Prospects for Eagles to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IApril 12, 2021

Prospects for Eagles to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    It's been an offseason of great change for the Philadelphia Eagles. They fired head coach Doug Pederson and replaced him with Nick Sirianni, traded quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts and cut ties with some notable veterans, including wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery.

    However, Philadelphia hasn't had much of an opportunity to fill many of the holes on its roster. It entered the offseason well over the NFL's salary cap, so it had to clear space before making any moves. The Eagles signed free-agent safety Anthony Harris, but they haven't brought in many other notable additions.

    That's why the 2021 NFL draft, which will take place from April 29-May 1, is going to be an important event for Philadelphia as it looks to bring in players who will help it get the franchise back on course. The Eagles have traded down from the No. 6 overall pick to the No. 12 selection, so they'll have more picks to utilize over the final two days of the draft. It will be important for them to add the right players for the future.

    While much of the draft speculation will be on players who Philadelphia may consider selecting, here's a look at several players it should avoid.

Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Now that the Eagles will first be on the clock at No. 12, there won't be as many players on the board as there would have been No. 6. So, Philadelphia's plans may have changed a bit with less top-tier players to consider drafting at its new spot.

    One player who could be taken in the range of the Eagles' pick is Rousseau, who is one of the top pass-rushers in this year's draft class. He's an exciting prospect, and he has potential, but he's also inexperienced, having played only 14 games at Miami due to opting out of the 2020 season (played amid the coronavirus pandemic).

    Not everybody is high on Rousseau as a draft prospect, either, so it may not be wise to draft him as early as No. 12.

    "I don't really see a big-time NFL rusher. So much of his pressure came as a zero-technique, and he won't see those looks in our league. He has very average juice and speed-to-power," a director of scouting for an NFL team told NFL.com's Lance Zierlein.

    Plus, the Eagles have bigger needs than defensive end that they should address early in the draft. Philadelphia should be fine with Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham at those spots in the short term, and if it wants to add depth there, it can do so in a later round.

Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Jason Peters is unsigned, and the Eagles need to figure out who's going to play left tackle for them moving forward. Perhaps they could even consider drafting one during the early rounds of the draft.

    However, if Philadelphia decides to do that, it shouldn't use the No. 12 pick on Slater. Even if it wanted to trade down a few spots (assuming Slater is still available and it could take him a bit later), it still wouldn't be the best move for the team to do so.

    That's because Slater is 6'4" and 304 pounds, so he'll likely be a better fit on the interior of an offensive line than he would be at tackle, even though that's the position he played at Northwestern. The interior is less of a concern for the Eagles at this point, as they have greater needs that they can address.

    Slater is a strong prospect who likely could be a starting NFL lineman for many years to come. But given the construction of Philadelphia's offensive line at the moment, it just wouldn't be the best fit. The Eagles would be better off waiting to take a larger tackle later in the draft.

Any QB on the First 2 Days of Draft

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    It wouldn't exactly be a vote of confidence in Jalen Hurts if the Eagles took a quarterback early in the draft. And things could especially get troublesome if Philadelphia took one of the top-tier QBs, should one fall down the board and still be available at No. 12.

    But even if the Eagles don't take a quarterback in the first round (which they shouldn't do), they'd also be wise to avoid drafting one in the second or third round, too. Hurts flashed his potential last season, and he deserves an opportunity to be the team's starter after they used a second-round pick on him in 2020.

    On Sunday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said on SportsCenter that Philadelphia could take a quarterback at some point during the draft as either "insurance" or "competition" for Hurts. And Fowler also noted that he heard from an NFL general manager that the Eagles could consider moving in the first round again, potentially considering North Dakota State's Trey Lance or Ohio State's Justin Fields should either, or both, slide down the board.

    That's not a move Philadelphia should make, though, as it would be better off addressing a major position of need (wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback). So if it wants to take a quarterback, wait until the third day when it can add a player to provide depth behind Hurts.