2021 NFL Mock Draft: Can Eagles still get a stud WR with No. 12?


Only five teams in NFL history have drafted a wide receiver in the first two rounds three years in a row.   Are the Eagles about to join that club?The Eagles took J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the 2nd round in 2019 and Jalen Reagor in the 1stround last year.   JJAW has been an enormous disappointment in his two seasons. Reagor struggled through an injury-plagued rookie year and didn’t flash when he was healthy.    Will the Eagles go WR early for a third straight year? Even after trading down from No. 6 to No. 12?   We’ll find that out and lots more one month from today.

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Jacksonville has drafted two QBs in the first round in their history – Byron Leftwich at No. 7 in 2003 and Blake Bortles at No. 3 in 2014. Leftwich went on to become a heck of a coach, but neither one had the kind of career the Jags are hoping Lawrence has. In Lawrence, the Jaguars hope to land their first true franchise QB since Mark Brunell.


The days where a quarterback got four or five years to prove himself are long gone. Darnold is only 23, but Joe Douglas has seen enough – a 13-25 record, more INTs than TDs last year, regression from Year 2 to Year 3 – to jump on Wilson at No. 2 and make it two top-5 QBs in a four-year span.


I realize you have no reason to believe me, but I did mock the 49ers trading up to 3 and taking Trey Lance before they actually made the trade with the Dolphins. It just made too much sense not to happen. Lance will be the 49ers’ first 1st-round quarterback since Alex Smith in 2005.


There’s a lot of conjecture about the Falcons going QB here, but Matt Ryan is coming off an NFL-record 9th straight season with 4,000 yards and 64 percent completion percentage, and the nature of his contract guarantees him two more years in Atlanta. I can’t imagine the Falcons drafting a QB to sit behind Ryan for two years. So Pitts becomes the first non-QB taken this year.


You know how it goes when there’s a run on quarterbacks. Teams start panicking and trading everything they can to get into position to take one. There’s such a huge drop-off after the top group of quarterbacks that if you want a guy who has a chance to plug and play, you better get up into the top-5. Which is what the Panthers do.


Which leaves the Dolphins to take Chase with the Eagles’ old pick. Give Tua Tagovailoa an elite weapon (that’s not a knock on Mack Hollins). The Dolphins did sign Will Fuller, but that’s a one-year deal. And no matter what happens with the Eagles’ pick at No. 12, every time Chase has a big game, it will be a reminder of what could have been.


After losing Darius Slay to the Eagles, the Lions ranked 30th in the NFL in pass defense last year, and Horn gives them an elite corner as they continue rebuilding under new coach Dan Campbell.


At the point he got hurt, Joe Burrow had been sacked more than every quarterback in the NFL with the exception of Carson Wentz and Russell Wilson. The Bengals’ biggest goal this offseason has to be figuring out how to protect Burrow, and Sewell gives them their first stud offensive tackle since Andrew Whitworth left for the Rams five years ago.


Questions about Smith’s weight may drop him down a few spots, but he’s too talented and too productive to fall past the Broncos. I do think the Broncos will try to move up and snag a quarterback, but there are more teams that want QBs than QBs, , and the Broncos – who took Jerry Jeudy No. 15 last year – go Alabama WRs back to back.


To me it’s not whether the Cowboys will take a cornerback but which one they’ll take. If Horn is off the board and they have to choose between Surtain and Farley I suspect that concerns about Farley’s injuries will lead them to Surtain, whose dad played 11 years for the Dolphins and Chiefs not all that long ago.  The Cowboys allowed a franchise-record 34 passing touchdowns last year, and it’s hard to imagine them not taking a corner here.


The Giants go Penn State in the first round for the second time in four years and draft a 1st-round linebacker for the first time since Carl Banks in 1984. Eagles fans might be disappointed, but they weren’t going to take a linebacker anyway.


The Eagles trade out of 6 and down six spots and still get one of the top skill guys in the draft in Waddle, who averaged 21.1 yards on 28 catches in just six games last year. Waddle missed the season with a broken ankle but returned for the BCS Championship Game against Ohio State and is totally healthy now. The Eagles haven’t really nailed a WR pick since Maclin 12 years ago, but Waddle sure looks like a can’t-miss.


The Chargers have a star quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert and with the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Darrisaw they get their left tackle to protect him.  This is a strong offensive tackle draft, and the Chargers could go Rashawn Slater here. He may be more ready as a rookie, but Darrisaw has the higher ceiling and will have the better career over the long haul.


The Vikings had only 23 sacks last year, 5th-fewest in the NFL and their fewest since sacks became an official NFL stat in 1982. And their two top sack producers from last year are gone. Unpressured, opposing QBs completed 66 percent of their passes with a 97.0 passer rating. In Paye, the Vikings get an edge rusher with a huge ceiling and a perfect fit in Mike Zimmer’s 4-3 front.


Bill Belichick could try to trade up for a quarterback, but I think once that initial run of QBs is over the Patriots land Jones at 15. Belichick and Nick Saban are pals, and Belichick loves taking Alabama players – Cyrus Jones, Damien Harris and Anfernee Jennings in the first three rounds in the last few years. Jones becomes the Patriots’ first 1st-round QB since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.


Farley was once considered the top corner in the draft, but lingering questions about his back as well as his 2020 opt-out have nudged him below Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain in most evaluations. But when he’s healthy he’s a stud and could step right in for Patrick Peterson, who’s now a Viking after 10 years and eight Pro Bowls with the Cards.


The Raiders need more help on defense than offense, but this is a value pick that’s also at a position of need. Slater is a versatile lineman who can play anywhere, and at 17 he’s too talented to pass up. May wind up as a guard in the NFL.


After snagging Ja’Marr Chase at No. 6, the Dolphins get Tua and the offense another weapon. The Dolphins haven’t been able to run the ball for years. Their last legit RB was Jay Ajayi in 2016, and over the last four years only the Steelers have fewer rushing yards. In Harris, the Dolphins get a versatile pass-catching back who scored a ridiculous 30 touchdowns last year, most in the BCS.


Jenkins is a big, tough street brawler and would seem to be good fit for Ron Rivera, who played for the 1985 Bears. This is a deep offensive tackle draft, and that should drop Jenkins into range for Rivera. Jenkins doesn’t have the elite athleticism that the tackle prospects ahead of him have, but he makes up for it with his toughness and power. Could wind up as a guard in the NFL but either way looks like a good fit for Washington.


Barmore, who played high school ball at St. John Newmann and Maria Goretti in South Philly, doesn’t have a long resume. He only became a starter this past season and was slowed early on by injuries. But by the end of the season he looked like a stud, and that’s enough for the Bears, who need an interior force on their d-line.


All you have to do to understand the importance of protecting Carson Wentz is watch the 2020 Eagles. The Colts need to replace 10-year starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who retired, and Dickerson fits the bill. The one thing that could keep Dickerson out of the 1stround is his long injury history, but if the Colts are convinced he’s healthy, he makes sense here. That’s seven of the first 21 picks from Alabama.


Finally free of the shadow of Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, Marshall Jr. blossomed with 48 catches for 731 yards and 10 TDs in just seven games in Baton Rouge. The Titans need to replace Corey Brown, who signed a big three-year, $37.5 million deal with the Jets, and the 6-foot-3 Marshall will be a great fit.


After opting out of 2020, Rousseau hits the draft with just one year as a starter. But what a year. In 2019, the 6-7, 265 athletic freak had 15 ½ sacks and 19 tackles for loss for the Hurricanes. Rousseau could go higher or could drop out of the first round entirely. He’s kind of a mystery because he’s played so little. But a potential steal for Joe Douglas and the Jets at 23.


With Mike Hilton signing with the Bengals and Steven Nelson getting cut, the Steelers are starting over at cornerback, a position they’ve struggled with in the draft recently. Newsome doesn’t have the buzz of the top few corners, and injuries really limited him at Northwestern but he’s got the speed, size and athleticism you look for on the NFL level, and he brings the Steelers great value at 24.


A few hours after taking Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars are up again and this time they go defense, with their fifth defensive 1st-round pick since 2018. Moehrig is the consensus best safety in the draft and one of the top defensive backs in the country, a smart, versatile ballhawk.


The Browns still have Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, but Beckham is five years removed from his last elite season, and the Browns need to think about some younger firepower. Bateman, who had over 1,200 yards and 11 TDs in his one full year at Minnesota, fits the bill. Bateman only played five games this past year, opting out because of COVID. He still led the Golden Gophers in receiving.


The Ravens only had one player with more than four sacks last year, and that was Matt Judon, who’s now with the Patriots. Their next-best sack producer was Calais Campbell , who’s going to be 35 by opening day. So they need to start thinking pass pressure, and Phillips, a UCLA transfer, is the best edge on the board, and at 6-5, 260 he’ll give the Ravens good effort against the run as well.


With Emmanuel Sanders now in Buffalo, the Saints don’t have much at wide receiver beyond Michael Thomas, and he’s coming off a injury-plagued season. Drew Brees’ successor needs weapons, and Toney is an intriguing one. He had just under 1,000 receiving yards and 10 TDs this past year and also averaged 8.5 yards on 19 rushing attempts.


The Packers haven’t drafted an offensive lineman in the first round in 10 years, and they haven’t taken a tackle anywhere in the first three rounds since 2016. It’s time start replenishing, and they start that process with Cosmi, who drops into their lap at 29. Cosmi was a three-year starter in Austin, playing both RT and LT. Cosmi stands 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, so he has plenty of room to grow into his frame.


I doubt the Bills see Devin Singletary or Zack Moss as a long-term solution at running back, and Matt Breida is only in Buffalo on a one-year deal, so RB is definitely in play for the Bills, who don’t have a lot of other major weaknesses. Etienne is an explosive four-year vet who ran for nearly 5,000 yards with a 7.2 average at Clemson and also averaged over 11 yards on over 100 catches. In all, he piled up 6,107 scrimmage yards for the Tigers, and only Jonathan Taylor had more (in three years). Etienne and Melvin Gordon are the only BCS players in the last 20 years with 4,000 rushing yards and an average over 7.2.


We all saw the Chiefs’ depleted offensive line get crushed in the Super Bowl, and the rebuild began when they released Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Brett Veach already added Joe Thuney and Kyle Long, but the Chiefs need tackles, and Mayfield – although inexperienced (he played just 15 games in college) – is a plug-and-play right tackle who could eventually move to left tackle. And we all know how much Big Red likes drafting offensive linemen in the first round.


The Bucs don’t have a lot of weaknesses, but they could sure use some youth on the defensive line. Nixon is an intriguing prospect. He only had one year as a starter in Iowa City but had 13 ½ tackles for loss, 5 ½ sacks and a 71-yard pick-six against Penn State as a 305-pound interior lineman. Nixon is a JUCO transfer who hasn’t played a ton but has a world of upside and terrific athleticism.

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