Eagles

WRs and Dream Picks: Philly Influencer’s 2020 NFL Draft Roundtable

Chuck Anderson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially NFL Draft week! After months of combine analysis, mock drafts and big boards, and fan interactions, 32 NFL teams will soon set out to improve their rosters. With the main event just days away, the Philly Influencer staff talks draft night, prospects, and dream scenarios.

(Getty Images)

1. In the 2020 draft, each team will have an IT specialist in the General Manager’s home, all 32 teams will be connected via video conference, and they will have an isolated connection with the league office. Without the massive spectacle of the draft on the big stage, what are your expectations for draft night? Are your expectations any lower this year?

• Mike Diaz (@PhillyMike): My expectations are higher! ESPN usually consists of Trey Wingo, Louis Riddick, Mel Kiper, and Mel Kiper’s hair yelling for 14 minutes. Viewers are always refreshing Twitter as the picks leak and we always see Goodell taking an extremely chill stroll to the podium. All of that can be eliminated now! As long as we get to hear the little bells and see “The Pick Is In” graphic on the screen, I’ll be happy. There also may be unintentional comedic possibilities as at least three teams bungle this (Chargers, Giants, Houston if they had any picks). I fully expect to see a Dave Gettleman interview with the camera looking straight up at the ceiling.

• Mark Drumheller (@x_drumheller): I love the idea of the draft being virtual. It’s an experience that gives the NFL a shared connection with its fans. Everybody has experienced a virtual draft in fantasy football and now we get to see 32 general managers go through that same experience live. My hope is that it provides the viewers with much more access to the draft room. There was nothing more exciting as a kid than seeing the GMs fire up the draft talks on the infamous “helmet phone”. Plus, it gives the fans the ability to see college athletes on a more personal level. I prefer to see the draftees get that call and explode with excitement in the environment of their own home. More personal access is always a plus for the fans, so I can’t wait!

• Larry Henry Jr. (@lhenry019): I think draft night will still bring the same amount of energy that it always does! From the first pick to the final pick, it will be great to watch, especially with everything going on in the sports world right now. I have high expectations for the Eagles in this draft. They need to add at several positions and I think anything less will be a disappointment.

• Tony “Jigsaw” Cutillo (@TCutillo23): Thank God for the NFL! With the constant dose of negativity throughout mainstream media, the NFL draft will be a breath of fresh air for all of us who need it. Obviously, it will not have the same feel, but it still will be a sporting event that happens in real-time, not post-production. That being said, I am expecting the normal bloopers and blunders that come along with the new territory. I will miss the ceremonious boos and cheers from the loyal fans who traveled hundreds of miles just to hear their team’s new players announced. However, I am intrigued to see virtual war rooms and genuine reactions from unpolished athletes. Let’s hope no one has the next Joel Embiid moment!

• Candis Mclean (@CandisRMcLean): The NFL is a billion-dollar business. They have the resources to make this draft exceed expectations. I’m intrigued at the idea of a virtual draft full of stellar visuals and new streams of interactions. I’m a huge fan of finding out each team’s pick when the commissioner announces it. Hopefully, the new platform keeps NFL insiders from breaking the news on our Twitter timelines. I’m expecting a spectacle.

(Tom Fox / The Dallas Morning News)

2. As fans, we all know that the divide between a team’s draft board and the fans’ desires can be wide. Fans can speculate, but each team’s analysis of a player is the only thing that matters when they’re on the clock. Based on previous drafts, and how you think the team is structured, who do you think the Eagles will draft on Thursday night?

• Diaz: The one thing I know in following the NFL and NBA so closely is that everyone is wrong 80% of the time. Justin Jefferson is the one player that is mostly linked going to the Birds. However, I’m gonna say Jalen Reagor. The Eagles don’t need a sixth pass-catcher who specializes in the middle of the field or “going up and getting it,” they need a burner. If Ruggs doesn’t fall to them (he won’t), they should grab Reagor. Ignore what ESPN’s draft guide says about where he should go. If the Eagles walk away from the first round without a wide receiver, it will be in the best interest of your mental health to ignore Twitter for the rest of the night.

• Drumheller: I think one thing that Roseman has made crystal clear is that the Eagles are looking for a prototypical No. 1 WR that can grow together with Carson Wentz. They will have a decision if they stay at pick 21. Justin Jefferson comes from a pro-ready system at LSU and has experience excelling on the biggest stages. There is no doubt in my mind that Jefferson is the receiver – after the “Big Three” – that is primed to contribute right away at the NFL level. However, there are questions about whether Jefferson fits the mold as true No. 1. He may be best suited to play more in the slot. This back-and-forth makes me believe they play the long game here, and select Baylor’s Denzel Mims.

If they are looking for a player that can develop into a dominant x receiver, Mims can flat out fly. He also has a more lethal vertical element to his game than Jefferson. His wide catch radius gives Wentz a huge target and his 4.38 speed translates on film. Mims is a bit of a project as he needs to work on his route-running and getting off press coverage, but that’s why he will be available at 21. The Eagles have confidence in their staff and have veteran wideouts in Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson who can mentor Mims in using both his speed and size at the next level.

• Henry Jr.: WR is a definite need for the Eagles in order to give Wentz another option going forward. Justin Jefferson from LSU makes plenty of sense at No. 21. He is coming off a strong career at LSU and was a National Champion in 2019. Jefferson’s playmaking ability paired with Zach Ertz, Miles Sanders, and DeSean Jackson would be something to watch in 2020.

• Jigsaw: I still feel Howie Roseman did the Eagles dirty by not addressing the needs in the offseason of another playmaker for his franchise QB. Not only did this leave the Eagles unprepared, but it shows their hand in a deep game of poker. All general managers know he needs a WR and the cost will be steep to move up.

• McLean: The Eagles are a build-through-the-trenches franchise. There’s certainly room for improvement on both the offensive and defensive lines. However, the franchise quarterback desperately needs weapons. It’s insane to see us back here, desperately needing a wide receiver after taking one in the second round in 2019.  The JJAW project gave us nothing in 2019. The Eagles will have to go back to the pass-catching well in 2020. The team may be a year away from needing two new starting wide receivers. I think the team will look to replenish the position.

(Getty Images)

3. The draft is full of talent at multiple positions. The Eagles need a boost at multiple positions. If you were the general manager, who would be your dream pick?

• Diaz: I think Roseman’s dream pick is obviously Chase Young (he loves those DLs). With the caveat that nobody knows anything, I think the one that’s picking up steam is Henry Ruggs. Ignoring the paper-goods-at-CVS sized hole that is the Eagles WR depth chart, my dream pick would be Isaiah Simmons. We haven’t had a player who’s everywhere all the time on defense in a while. You can say that’s completely ridiculous and unrealistic, but we’re living in a time right now where we go to work without pants on. Anything is possible!

• Drumheller: Personally, I would like to see them trade up and draft Jerry Jeudy. I truly think Jeudy is something special and the one receiver that I think has Hall of Fame potential. He comes into the NFL with an incredible combination of advanced route-running techniques and football IQ that helps him leverage defenders with ease. The best comparison I heard regarding Jeudy is Reggie Wayne, and I completely agree. I still have nightmares that we drafted Freddie Mitchell ahead of him in 2001. Joe Montana had Jerry Rice. Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison. Nothing would make me happier than hearing that Carson Wentz has Jerry Jeudy for the next decade.

• Henry Jr.: It seems unlikely that Antoine Winfield Jr. would fall to the Eagles in the second round. It would also be too early to grab him in the first. Seeing him in midnight green would be a hell of an acquisition. Winfield is the son of former NFL DB Antoine Winfield Sr., so the pedigree has sure helped him along the way. A key piece in the University of Minnesota’s strong campaign in 2019, Winfield Jr. would give Jim Schwartz another versatile piece in the secondary.

• Jigsaw: I still think the OL needs tremendous help as earlier picks still have question marks. Jason Kelce isn’t going to last forever and the center on any team is vital to their success. That being said, Cesar Ruiz is my man!

• McLean: I’m a simple woman. I want CeeDee Lamb. The Eagles need to do whatever it takes to get him. I don’t care. He’s electrifying and a true match-up nightmare. With him in the fold, Wentz and this offense will be blossoming for years to come. There’s not a trade-up scenario I would turn down if it means getting him in midnight green. Take my nonexistent firstborn child! You can have more kids, playmakers like this don’t come around that often.

(Getty Images)

4. Whether it’s the Chargers trading up to the third spot to take Tua, or the Eagles trading up to get Ruggs, trades are always the wild cards of the NFL Draft. What’s a trade scenario that would make the most sense for one team in this year’s draft?

• Diaz: The trade scenario that makes the most sense is for the Giants to trade back. They’re going to have to capitalize on Saquon Barkley before he inevitably leaves or wears down. They can maximize their window, with a QB on a rookie contract, with the addition of picks. But we don’t want to see them start to behave rationally during the draft. #Gettleman4eva! Miami has three picks in the first round and is loaded with draft capital through 2021 (nine picks in the first two rounds!). If they don’t grab their future franchise quarterback hopeful high this year, it would make sense to trade back. They can pick up extra chips if they’re looking to make that move in 2021.

• Drumheller: I really think the Lions trading the No. 3 overall selection makes the most sense. Matt Patricia is on thin ice and they need a player that can make an impact right away. I understand that most believe Jeff Okudah is perfect fit there because of the challenges the Lions have in the secondary, but there is a steep learning curve for corners at the next level. Patricia and Quinn do not have the luxury of waiting for players to develop. I wouldn’t be surprised if their trade involves a veteran corner giving them the freedom to slide back and scoop up Isaiah Simmons. Patricia’s defense values versatility and Simmons fits his scheme like a glove. The only way I do not see a Lions-Dolphins trade on Thursday is if Miami uses their ammo to move Washington out of No. 2.

• Henry Jr.: Minnesota trading up to No. 17 with Dallas seems like a trade that could work out for both teams. The Vikings could add an edge player like K’Lavon Chaisson from LSU to pair with Danielle Hunter on the defensive line. Dallas could fall back a few spots and get a defensive back like Jeff Gladney or Kristian Fulton to step in for the departed Byron Jones, pending both Gladney and Fulton are on the board.

• Jigsaw: This is easy for me. The Miami Dolphins need to move and get a QB stat! They cannot move on without it. Please put to rest the bad memories of Cleo Lemon, Ray Lucas, and Trent Green!

• McLean: It’s a quarterback league. The Carolina Panthers currently sit at No. 7 overall and the Jaguars are at No. 9. The quarterback situations for both franchises are far from stable. If either team thinks Tua Tagovailoa is their guy, they need to shoot the trade alert through the Zoom feed or NFL messenger. Detroit would be a likely partner to drop down a few spaces.

(AP)

5. Do you have any favorite sleeper pick(s)?

• Diaz: I don’t consider any player a sleeper unless they are a Day Three pick. We all rant and rave about where a guy should be taken as we read up, listen to these experts, and watch specifically curated game film. I think we all need to keep in mind drafts are a complete crapshoot the deeper you go. There will be second and third-rounders in this draft who have better careers than at least half of the first-rounders taken. Teams are not only predicting how a player’s game will translate to the pros, but are also considering his personal, physical, and mental growth, work ethic, willingness to learn or be coached, lifestyle, personality, team needs, fit, support system, and more. Without knowing how each team values all these things, it’s basically a coin-flip in later rounds. That said, someone at 1 Novacare Way still needs to fully explain and apologize for Marcus Smith.

• Drumheller: Every gambler loves a long shot, but I won’t disappoint here. Let’s go with Ke’Shawn Vaughn from Vanderbilt. Every year we get a story about how a running back won fantasy titles for the millions of “Office Ozzie Newsomes” across the country. Vaughn has a good chance of being that guy more than anyone. Projected as a fourth-round pick, Vaughn has a nice combination of vision and decisiveness. His receiving ability will get him on the field on third downs. If it’s with an outside zone schemed offense, he can thrive running the ball as well. The landing spot is crucial for every draft prospect but more so with Vaughn. With a strong offense around him, he could be a few injuries away from being the hottest thing on the waiver wire this winter. Now is your chance to prove to the office that you knew it all along!

• Henry Jr.: Tyler Johnson from Minnesota was a key part of the Golden Gophers’ success in 2019, and could easily help any NFL team’s receiving corps. He is likely to go between rounds two and four, and if the Eagles somehow added him alongside Jefferson in the first round, that would be another dangerous weapon for the Birds’ offense. After earning just under 700 yards in 2017, Johnson totaled 2,487 yards and 25 touchdowns over the last two seasons for Minnesota.

• Jigsaw: Have you seen any game film on Lynn Bowden, WR from Kentucky? Sure, he is being labeled as a gimmick player, but once he finds a niche he could excel. Bowden accumulated more than 1,800 yards from scrimmage in 2019, scoring 14 touchdowns. He was used as a WR and a QB, electrifying at both positions.

• McLean: If you believe that this is just a fandom pick for me, you’re not entirely wrong. If you can get an impact player on the third day, that’s the true definition of a sleeper pick to me. Trajan Bandy is a true athlete. His 40 time at the combine (4.50) and size will bump him to the depths of the later rounds.  I believe he’s a day 1 nickel starter in the NFL. He has great range, ball skills, excels at diagnosing plays, and is a sure tackler.

The NFL draft begins on Thursday, April 23 at 8 p.m. ET. The draft will continue on Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m. ET for the second and third rounds, and then again on Saturday, April 27 at 12 p.m. ET for the final rounds. You can catch the draft on ABC and ESPN, along with ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, and NFL Network.


You can follow Candis McLean on Twitter (@CandisRMcLean) and e-mail her at candis.mclean@gmail.com.

Subscribe, rate, and review all Philly Influencer podcasts here. Follow Philly Influencer onTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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