Eagles Rumors: Alabama's Jaylen Waddle Linked to Philly Entering 2021 NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) pulls in a pass over Mississippi defensive back A.J. Finley (21) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Alabama won 63-48. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles already made one major trade ahead of Thursday's NFL draft, moving from the No. 6 pick to No. 12. Don't be shocked if they make another deal to move back up the board, particularly for a wide receiver. 

Albert Breer of SI.com broke down the Eagles' potential plans for the first round, which could include cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn:

"As usual, GM Howie Roseman's been active in making trade calls, and word is that a move up might be for a corner. There's a decent chance that neither Surtain nor Horn will make it here, and there's a sizable dropoff after those two. And while we're here, two other things I'd mention: One, with Roseman, you can't rule out a linemen on either side of the ball, and both of Philly's groups are getting a little long in the tooth. And two, more than a couple people I talked to connected the Eagles to Bama dynamo Jaylen Waddle."

Waddle would make a ton of sense for the Eagles. Really, any of the top wideouts would, with a receiver depth chart that currently includes Travis Fulgham, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward Jr. and John Hightower. Ward led the Eagles last year with a paltry 53 receptions and six touchdown receptions, while Fulgham's 539 receiving yards was tops on the Birds. 

So yeah, Philly needs help at this position. And a lightning bolt like Waddle would provide it. 

Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network listed Waddle as the No. 5 player overall in this draft, calling him a "slightly undersized receiver with extraordinary speed and playmaking ability" whose "acceleration in his release is elite" and who "destroys the cushions he receives from defenders in a hiccup and can find a second and third gear once the ball is in the air."

Jeremiah believes Waddle could have a Tyreek Hill-esque impact in the NFL. What team wouldn't want a playmaker like Hill? 

But how the Eagles will handle the draft remains a mystery. Here's what ESPN's Todd McShay is hearing about the team:

"A lot of people around the league believe the Eagles could be a wild card in the first round. The Eagles are apparently tossing out feelers to QB-needy teams that might want to move up to No. 12 if one of the top five quarterbacks is still on the board when it's the Eagles' turn to draft. But I've also heard that there's some interest in Justin Fields within the organization. But logistically, that's usually part of the trade-back smoke screen."

And Pro Football Talk's Peter King believes the team should address cornerback, projecting them to take South Carolina's Jaycee Horn at No. 12:

"Corner's a significant need; the Eagles' best (and priciest) corner, Darius Slay, gave up 77-percent completions last year, per Pro Football Focus, and there's no other long-term solutions, at least not one who has played to that level, on the roster now. Horn's a three-year starter in a throwing league, and the book on him is he's uber-competitive and feisty. Sounds like a Philly guy already."

So good luck figuring out what the Eagles will do. Fans may riot if the team doesn't select a player like Waddle or DeVonta Smith if they fall in the draft, given the huge need at wideout. But the Eagles could go in several different directions given the overall needs they have on the roster.