Five mid-round draft prospects at wide receiver
As the 2021 NFL Draft inches closer, the discussion continues on as to who the Eagles will select at #12 overall. Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith & Jaylen Waddle lead the wide receiver class this year and many are wondering if any of those receivers will be available to the Eagles after trading back.
Since 2005, 3 WRs were taken before the #12 pick just one time (2017: Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross). One of DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle should be there for the Eagles, but if they do go defense in the first round there are some compelling options at receiver later on:
Dyami Brown, North Carolina
The UNC star is a lethal route-runner with quick feet and dangerous breakaway speed. Brown gave the Tar Heels nothing but production over the last two seasons:
- 106 receptions
- 2,133 yards
- 20.1 yards/catch
- 20 TDs
Brown has the acceleration necessary to get behind opposing defensive backs and make big plays after the catch. His separation comes generally on vertical routes where he can utilize his initial burst off the line of scrimmage. Brown struggles against press coverage and has a limited route tree, but adding some strength to his speed will make him a legitimate threat at the pro level.
D’Wayne Eskridge, Western Michigan
The Eagles have lacked explosiveness in their offense for years, something they tried to rectify last season by drafting Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins. While it is still early, they haven’t quite panned out the way the team had hoped (for a lot of reasons). As the Eagles yet again find themselves in the market for a dynamic playmaker, they should look no further than the Western Michigan standout.
Eskridge is quick with his releases and has very good agility in and out of his breaks. At just 5’9″, 190 pounds, Eskridge has an impressive catch radius and high points the ball extremely well for a player his size. He’s fearless over the middle, proving to have reliable hands even through contact. His speed and acceleration also make him a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Eskridge caught 33 passes for 768 yards and 8 TDs last season.
Nico Collins, Michigan
With the departure of Alshon Jeffery and little hope that Arcega-Whiteside will become an NFL WR anytime soon, the Eagles find themselves in need of a possession receiver. Even though he did opt-out of the 2020 season, Nico Collins at 6’4″, 215 pounds fits the bill. Collins has some of the best hands in this class, always giving his QB a chance with his extension and ability to high-point the ball.
The Michigan product isn’t the quickest guy around but the former basketball player excels at the 50/50 ball. Collins is one of those players that is always open even when he’s covered, especially in the red zone. He displays impressive body control and concentration, making him a big-play threat at all times. Even in a situational role to start out, Collins would give the Eagles a vertical threat on offense that they haven’t had in some time.
Amari Rodgers, Clemson
Rodgers has all the tools to be a legitimate YAC machine in the NFL. He has short-area quickness, dependable hands, and second-level burst of a prototypical slot receiver. Rodgers’ body frame allows him to fight for extra yardage and be a forceful blocker downfield. Even though his play was overshadowed by Trevor Lawrence, his production last season speaks for itself:
- 77 receptions
- 1,020 yards
- 13.2 yards/catch
- 7 TDs
Rodgers did have six drops last season and he lacks the length to be anything more than a slot weapon right away, but his excellent route-running will prove valuable to whatever offense he ends up a part of. Give the former Tiger an angle and he’s sure to make a big play.
Elijah Moore, Ole Miss
Moore will more than likely be off the board by the early 2nd round, but it would be a disservice to leave him off this list. He had a 4.35 40-time, faster than any receiver drafted last season with the exception of Henry Ruggs III. Moore has also never dropped a pass in the red zone in his entire Ole Miss career and only dropped two passes last season.
His size is the only thing keeping Moore out of the first round. He’s only 5’9″ and 184 pounds so it’s tough to project how effective Moore can be outside of the slot. His ball tracking is tremendous and he is as elusive as anyone in this class, forcing 18 missed tackles in 2020. Moore racked up 86 catches for nearly 1,200 yards and 8 TDs last season.
Elijah Moore had the lowest drop rate among SEC WRs last season— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 16, 2021
Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush | USA TODAY Sports