Eagles' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 28, 2021

Eagles' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles had one of the most confounding drafts in 2020.

    The NFC East side passed up Justin Jefferson and landed Jalen Reagor in the first round, and they selected Jalen Hurts in the second round.

    The moves made little sense at the time and became even more baffling as Jefferson played a starring role with the Minnesota Vikings.

    Of course, Hurts and Reagor could lead the Eagles to a surprising level of success in 2021, but they need more support around them.

    On Thursday, Philadelphia could again dip into a deep wide receiver class to add weapons for its starting quarterback, two of whom have a previous history with Hurts.

    However, wide receiver isn't the team's only need, and with a handful of top cornerbacks potentially available, the Eagles may be forced to go the defensive route in the first round for the first time since 2017.

DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle should be the likely wide receiver targets for the Eagles with the No. 12 selection.

    Not only are they intriguing prospects because of their incredible raw talent, but they also have a prior connection with Hurts, who spent time with both at Alabama before transferring to Oklahoma.

    The Eagles need to add more depth around Reagor since there isn't a lot of proven talent on the roster.

    Travis Fulgham led the Eagles with 539 receiving yards in 2020, but most of his yards came from Weeks 4-8, when he recorded all four of his touchdown catches. And Reagor was injured for parts of his rookie season, so an argument can be made that Philadelphia does not have any proven wideouts on its roster.

    Smith may be the safer option in the Eagles' draft situation since Waddle is coming off a season-ending injury in 2020.

    Smith may fall to Philly at No. 12 because of his size. Despite carrying a wiry frame, he was a dominant force throughout SEC play. The Heisman Trophy winner had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to close out his Alabama career.

    Waddle did not have a 1,000-yard campaign over three seasons, but that was partly due to the wide receiver depth the Crimson Tide had in 2018 and 2019.

    If the Eagles don't land a wideout at No. 12, they must address the position in the latter rounds. They may feel comfortable with that given the depth in the class.

Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina

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    Bruce Newman/Associated Press

    The availability of the defensive backs will be dictated by what the Dallas Cowboys do at No. 10.

    Dallas should be in the market for Alabama's Patrick Surtain II or South Carolina's Jaycee Horn. Whichever player does not go at 10 could be picked up two positions later.

    Surtain is widely regarded as the top corner in the class, so Horn would be the likely player available for the Eagles.

    Philadelphia made a splash last offseason by trading for Darius Slay, but it still needs help on the other side of the field with so many talented wide receivers in the NFC East. The team conceded over 250 passing yards in seven games last season and let up 30 or more points on six occasions.

    If the Eagles land Horn, they could solidify the outside of their defense and then focus on improving at wide receiver in the second or third rounds.

Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State

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    Barry Reeger/Associated Press

    The Eagles are light on the pass rush behind Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett.

    Although Micah Parsons is listed as a linebacker, he could line up on the edge as a pass-rusher.

    The Penn State product has not played since the 2019 season after opting out for 2020. He was a menace on the edge in his last full campaign, though.

    The 21-year-old turned in a double-digit tackle total in five of his final six games and had a pair of sacks against Memphis in his final collegiate performance in the 2020 Cotton Bowl.

    The Eagles could also be intrigued by Michigan's Kwity Paye, but they would be getting a ball hawk in Parsons who could be the perfect complement to their experienced defensive ends.


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com.