The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a very disappointing end to their season. While teams in the NFC East are getting younger, the Eagles have a lot of veteran players closing in on the end of their prime. This NFL Draft will be vital for the future of the franchise.
However, the Eagles first must decide on their direction. If they feel like injuries are what caused so many issues for Carson Wentz, they may draft a receiver. However, if they feel as though Wentz’ time is up, quarterback is a possibility.
While the Eagles offense holds the majority of the issues, the defense still has holes. Drafting a linebacker or cornerback could be an option in hopes that the young receiving core will progress. The NFC East has two very young and talented defenses. Philadelphia may want to add some youth to compete with the trend of defenders.
Even though quarterback and defensive players are on the table, the most pressing issue is wide receiver. Finding a quality young receiver has been a struggle for the Eagles in recent years. While they have tried to secure young talent at wideout, they don’t have a true number one type receiver on the roster.
There should be many very good wideouts capable of putting up big numbers with the sixth overall pick. The Eagles may give Wentz another run, or Hurts an opportunity to start a full year. None of that will matter if wideouts can’t get open.
It was a disappointing season, but this could be a blessing in disguise. The Eagles have been picking in the mid-to-late 20’s for a few seasons now. They have yet to draft a true superstar with any of those picks.
This season, the Eagles are hopeful they can land a player that will help end their draft woes. Here are four potential targets for the Eagles in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Micah Parsons – Linebacker – Penn State
The Eagles’ defense needs a strong linebacker. They are lacking in depth at the linebacker position, and the starters are all very weak. If Philly wants to return to the Super Bowl as quickly as possible, they will need a strong defense.
It is very hard to have a good defense without good defensive leadership. Micah Parsons is the best linebacker in the NFL Draft, and arguably the best defensive player. If the Eagles are serious about building a dominant defense, he should be the choice.
Not only is Micah Parsons an incredible athlete, he is a smart player. Rarely we see linebackers come out of college ready to take on the role as quarterback of the defense. Parsons is ready, and he could be an immediate Pro Bowl level player. He has the strength and ability to read his keys and make plays in the backfield when the opponent runs the ball. He is very good in zone and in man coverage. Parsons could very well be an All-Pro linebacker in only a few short seasons.
While the more pressing need for the Eagles is at wide receiver, there are different options. The Eagles could sign a wideout in free agency. There are also a ton of wide receivers who will be available in the second round. Philadelphia has a young receiving core. They may just need some time to develop.
Patrick Surtain II – Cornerback – Alabama
While Darius Slay is still a great corner, teams typically need two quality cornerbacks to stop opposing passing attacks. Patrick Surtain II is an excellent cornerback who should be able to step in and play very well right away.
Surtain has the potential to be a shutdown corner, and he has gone against NFL caliber receivers almost every day in practice while at Alabama.
The teams of the NFC East are building their receiving cores. Dallas used a first-round pick on CeeDee Lamb last year. The Giants have a rising star in Darius Slayton. Washington has one of the leagues best in Terry McLaurin. Drafting a corner to cover these rising stars is only logical. The Eagles can find a receiver in free agency or later in the NFL Draft. Securing a dominant defense may be the teams priority.
Patrick Surtain II is a corner who excels in both man and zone coverage. He has a Jalen Ramsey or Stephon Gilmore level ceiling. He would immediately serve as the number two corner for the Eagles. Slay could mentor him while taking opposing number ones receivers. That would let Surtain grow into his role as the franchise lockdown corner.
Ja’Marr Chase – Receiver – LSU
The Eagles’ most pressing need is at wide receiver. There are a few options for the Eagles, but this pick would be assuming Ja’Marr Chase falls.
For Chase to land with the Eagles, the Jets and Dolphins would have to pass on him. However, that is very possible. The Jets may go quarterback. The Dolphins may go with Penei Sewell or DeVonta Smith and reunite him with Tua Tagovailoa. That leaves Chase available to the Eagles.
If Chase falls to the Eagles, there is really no chance they pass on him. Last season, the Eagles gambled on Jalen Reagor one pick ahead of Justin Jefferson. Jefferson went on to break the rookie receiving yards record. The Eagles should not pass up on the opportunity to take Chase, who outshined Jefferson at LSU.
Chase is the most pro-ready wide receiver in the NFL Draft. He has good size, excellent speed, and has tremendous tracking skills. Philadelphia is in dire need of a true number one receiver. Chase is that player and would immediately walk on as the Eagles top wide receiver. His presence would help boost the progression of Jalen Hurts or revive the career of Carson Wentz.
Justin Fields – Quarterback – Ohio State
There would have to be a lot of drama on draft day for Fields to fall to Philly. However, if available, I do not see the Eagles passing on him.
Fields has the athleticism of current QB Jalen Hurts. But, he has a much better arm. While there will certainly be some questioning this decision, if Wentz’ time is over, Justin Fields would be an excellent replacement.
Fields is coming off of a tremendous performance against Clemson. However, he did struggle against Indiana and Northwestern. Those two games may scare some teams into passing on him. The Jets may go Zach Wilson or Trey Lance. The Falcons may want to give Matt Ryan another year.
While this scenario isn’t ideal for Fields, he would be coming to a team that could contend now. The Eagles have a very good offensive line, they just were hurt last season. Reagor shows promise, and they can get a receiver in the second round or in free agency. I don’t see the Eagles passing up on an opportunity to select Fields.
While Hurts showed flashes of excellent quarterback play, he struggled at times with his accuracy. Benching him against Washington might have been proof that the Eagles aren’t fully behind him. Fields has the potential to be a dominant quarterback in the NFL. He has fantastic arm strength, is very accurate, and is extremely athletic.
It would surely cause a lot of drama, but for a team with so many questions at quarterback, Fields may be the answer in the 2021 NFL Draft.