Leo’s Three-Round Mock Draft 2.0: New Signings Bring Changes.
Since my last mock the Eagles have gone out and made some additions for the 2021 roster that certainly shake up how they should draft in a couple of weeks. One signing in particular that throws a wrench in my previous mock was linebacker Eric Wilson.
Wilson’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly mirror Nick Bolton, who I projected the Eagles to take in the second round. Wilson has proven to be a great cover linebacker but struggled in the tackling department. With the Wilson signing, let’s take a different approach to the 2021 NFL Draft for Philly.
Round 1, Pick #12: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
While much of the Eagles’ offseason needs discussion revolves around a playmaking threat for Jalen Hurts, another major need for the Birds hasn’t been addressed enough. Cornerback has been an issue for the Eagles for almost a decade now and continues to be high on the draft board year in and year out. This year, Howie has the opportunity to finally take CB off the top of the list with an absolute stud in Jaycee Horn. Horn is a 6’1″, 205 lbs freak athlete, who most recently ran a sub-4.4 forty-time at South Carolina’s pro day. Combine that with his 41-foot vertical and Horn already has the athleticism of an elite corner.
On top of that, Horn has shown an elite football mind at his time at South Carolina. Horn certainly enjoys press man coverage with his size and athleticism, but can play a multitude of coverages and even hold his own inside at the slot if needed. The Eagles won’t need him to be a shutdown CB1 with Darius Slay here, but that unlocks even more of his potential. Horn can do so much on the field, from weakside coverage to pressman, slot work to even an innate ability to blitz off the side (recorded three sacks in his collegiate career). Last season in seven games, Horn only allowed eight catches for a mere 116 yards on 24 targets. If Roseman wants to make sure the Eagles have two great corners for the next couple of years, Horn is a slam-dunk that will certainly be at pick #12.
Round 2, Pick #37: WR Terrace Marshall Jr, LSU.
With the Eagles going defense in the first-round, Howie’s next pressing need is an offensive weapon for Jalen Hurts. Luckily for Philly, a wideout from another distinguished SEC team with a ton of upside should fall into their lap in the second round. Terrace Marshall Jr is a 6’2″, 205-pound wideout with a ton of raw potential. Like Jaylen Waddle, Marshall spent much of his career lower on the depth chart. In LSU’s historic 2019 season, Marshall was WR3 behind current OROY Justin Jefferson and projected first-rounder Ja’Marr Chase.
Marshall certainly has the size and hands to become a great jump-ball specialist on an NFL team. Pair that with great speed (ran a 4.4 forty) and you begin to see why Marshall has the potential to be the future WR1 for the Eagles. In the shortened 2020 season (his only season as LSU’s true WR1), Marshall hauled in 48 catches for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns. This production came on a Tigers squad that dropped dramatically in offensive production with the exit of Joe Burrow. Despite that, in a full season, Marshall was on pace for an 1,000-yard season. For all that he does well, Marshall will require some dedication and coaching to bring out his full potential as a WR1, something I believe this new Eagles coaching staff is very capable of.
Round 3, Pick #70: TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State.
If there is one thing that ties together Doug Pederson and Nick Sirianni’s offenses, it is utilizing two tight-end sets. With Ertz likely to be traded before the 2021 season, Howie needs to grab another offensive threat to pair with Goedert. Pat Freiermuth is a perfect pick to plug into Sirianni’s offensive sets. The Penn State product stands 6’5″, 258 pounds, with an innate ability in the passing game. In the modern NFL, offenses rely more and more on 12 personnel sets with tight ends that can be a threat in the air.
In his three years at Penn State, Freieruth has hauled in 92 receptions for nearly 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns. His size and great ability to frame catches away from his body allow him to capitalize on mismatches beautifully. Freiermuth’s biggest knock comes in the run game but has improved as he’s gotten bigger with each season in college. I am confident that with Stoutland’s guidance and the help of the veteran lineman on the Eagles, Freiermuth will improve in the run game. If Sirianni plans to run 12 personnel on the Eagles as he did with the Colts, a passing threat tight end like Freiermuth is an easy pick.
Round 3, Pick #84: S Richie Grant, UCF.
With Malcolm Jenkins gone, the Eagles not only lost a huge presence in the locker room, but a swiss army knife of a player, and it showed this year. All of us can remember how impactful Jenkins was from the strong safety position, playing all over the field. One play he’d be blitzing, the next stopping an outside run, then breaking up a deep ball over the middle of the field. The Eagles need to find a strong safety that is comfortable all over the field, a sort of wild card. There is nobody in this draft I think is as much of a steal, and a swiss army knife as Richie Grant.
Grant is a six-foot, 194-pound defensive back with unique versatility. Grant played four seasons at UCF, displaying a multitude of strengths in his time. In his early years, he displayed great deep coverage ability, notching four pass breakups and six picks in deep coverage. On top of that, as the seasons went on, he showed flashes of brilliance in the run game. His ability to read run plays and fill accordingly led to his crazy 90 run-defense grade last season. What puts the icing on the cake was his showing at the senior bowl. He routinely lined up in one-on-one coverage with wide receivers and held his own. Getting a guy you can trust in deep coverage, the run game, and potentially the occasional one-on-one matchup with a WR is a slam dunk at any pick, and Grant falling this far is a must-pick for the Eagles.
Mandatory Credit: @Texas_Thoughts, ESPN, Austin Gayle, Ben Fennell, Johnathan Daniel.