For the next few weeks before the NFL Draft on April 23-25, we’ll be looking at some viable options for the Eagles and the No. 21 pick.
One of the most popular mock draft options for the Eagles, Justin Jefferson isn’t widely considered to be one of the top three receivers in this class. That group includes CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. But Jefferson might be the best of the rest.
In 2019, Jefferson (6-1, 202) had a monster season, catching 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he did most of is work operating out of the slot. And he played in an offense with the likely No. 1 quarterback, a likely top-10 receiver in next year’s draft and an offensive coach who jumped to the NFL this offseason.
So how good is Jefferson and how much was he a product of being in a great college offense?
It’s a fair question. But down the stretch, Jefferson played his best ball in LSU’s most meaningful games. In the last three games of the season (SEC Championship, CFP semifinal and CFP National Championship), Jefferson caught 30 passes for 448 yards and 5 touchdowns.
And then at the combine, he ran a 4.43 and had jumps of 37.5/126.0, showing he has the athleticism to play at the next level.
Current roster at WR: The Eagles don’t have a whole lot they can count on. Alshon Jeffery is an aging receiver coming off a Lisfranc injury and who might be a locker room problem. DeSean Jackson is a 33-year-old speed receiver coming off a sports hernia surgery. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is entering Year 2 after a disappointing rookie season. And Greg Ward deserves a chance but he’s played in just seven NFL games. Those are their top four right now.
How he would fit: Based on what the Eagles currently have, Jefferson would need to come in and play immediately. We all know the questions about whether or not he can play outside (they’re legitimate questions and concerns), but the Eagles need all types of receivers right now and that includes slot guys. So in his rookie season, you could expect to see most of Jefferson’s work to come inside but the Eagles would then add more and more to his plate.
What Ward was able to do last season was very impressive, but the Eagles can’t hesitate to pull the trigger on Jefferson because they have Ward in the slot. Sorry. If the Eagles view Jefferson as a first-round pick, they have to take him and they have to get him on the field this season.
Eagles’ history at WR in draft: In their history, the Eagles have used a first-round pick on a receiver just five times: Nelson Agholor (2015), Jeremy Maclin (2009), Freddie Mitchell (2001), Kenny Jackson (1984) and Mike Quick (1982). Some hits and some misses in there.
But recently, their history drafting receivers in any round hasn’t been great. Since Howie Roseman became GM in 2010 (minus 2015 when he wasn’t in charge), the Eagles have drafted seven receivers: Riley Cooper (5th), Marvin McNutt (6th), Josh Huff (3rd), Jordan Matthews (2nd), Shelton Gibson (5th), Mack Hollins (4th), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (2nd). The only player to get a second contract after their rookie deal was Riley Cooper.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.