By: Alex Schlerf
This years draft class is one of the deepest in recent memory. From national champions to underrated stars, the Eagles can find a good one in this draft. Here are my top 5 prospects for the Eagles. Keep in mind these are realistic options, so names like CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy will not be mentioned.
#1: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson
This may come as a surprise, but my favorite prospect(for the Eagles) in this draft is Tee Higgins. The Clemson WR put up some monster numbers in his time at Clemson, with his best year coming in 2019. In the 2019-2020 season, Higgins had 1,167 Yards and 13 TDs(T-7th in College Football) while only posting 59 receptions (T-78th in College Football). Higgins is the perfect big play Wideout that the Eagles need. One underrated part of Higgins’s game is speed, as many say he can not keep up with the speed of the other top WRs in this draft. But watching his tape, he does have that speed that could make him a #1 or #2 WR for this team. The best attribute for Higgins (besides from his hands) is his strength. Higgins can break a tackle from some of the best Defensive Backs in the League, which he has shown all season. He displayed this in the national championship game, where he broke the tackles of two/three LSU defenders en route to the end zone. Higgins could be the Eagles slot receiver even in his first year, as he has the perfect combo of speed and strength the Eagles need. He should definitely be available at #21, and I’d be over the moon if the Eagles selected him.
#2: WR Henry Ruggs, Alabama
Alabama has created some incredible WRs in the past, and Ruggs might be one of the best to come out in a long time. Ruggs’ stats may not be as good as Higgins, but there’s reason to believe his production would increase incredibly on a team like the Eagles. Ruggs spent this season next to 2 other incredible wideouts- WR Jerry Jeudy and WR Jaylen Waddle. Jeudy is a projected top 10 pick, while Waddle is another amazing receiver(as I am writing this he has not declared for the draft yet). That is not even including star RB Najee Harris who can catch passes out of the backfield as well(300 Receiving Yards this season). Ruggs showed flashes of brilliance this season, and his production could increase a lot more in a system like the Eagles. He is the deep threat the Eagles need, as he had multiple long touchdowns last season. Ruggs had an 81 Yard Touchdown vs. South Carolina, and a 74 Yard Touchdown vs. Southern Mississippi. If the Eagles were to draft Ruggs, he could have 2-3 years to develop and then possibly become the Eagles #1 WR(yes, he has that potential). The only big reason I have him below Higgins is because I believe it’s less likely that Ruggs is there at 21. But if he is, I’d still feel great about that pick.
#3: CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
The Eagles are in desperate need for a CB this offseason, and Diggs would be the perfect guy for them. Diggs has many similar skills to his brother, Vikings WR Stefon Diggs- speed, athleticism and size. The Eagles are really looking for any Defensive Back at this point, but a tall CB that can play Zone and Man to Man coverage is a perfect fit. His aggressiveness can hurt him on times, but that can be fixed by coaching(Jim Schwartz fixed Jalen Mills and he won a Super Bowl). Diggs did not put up an immense amount of Interceptions last season, although 3 INTs is not that bad in an off year for Alabama. Diggs could develop as a elite CB in the NFL if treated correctly, as he has been a great pass deflector as well. Assuming the Eagles will make a splash for at least one CB in Free Agency, Diggs could very well be the #2 or #3 CB early next season. Like I said, if the Eagles can fix his issues, he would fit perfectly into Jim Schwartz’s defense.
#4: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU
Fulton, like Diggs, is a CB who could be a risk but has incredible upside. Fulton’s stats don’t pop out at all when you look at them, but he has some incredible traits that show in his film. He is mostly great at locking down corners and providing no separation, but his coverage on 50/50 balls definitely needs work. This was shown in the National Championship Game, as Fulton was exposed heavily in one-on-one coverage against the Clemson receivers in the first half. He stepped it up in the 2nd Half, as LSU went on to win 42-25, but it will be a long term issue if it isn’t addressed. Like Diggs, I believe that Jim Schwartz could fix this issue. The bottom line is that Fulton locked down some of the best WRs in the league last year, which can be seen as he played on possibly one of the best college teams of all time. Fulton could very well fall to the Birds at 21, and it would be a great pick if they decide to draft him.
#5: CB CJ Henderson, Florida
CJ Henderson is a player that I’d be willing to bet many Eagles fans would want Howie to stay away from drafting. Although his injury history hurts his case, Henderson has shown he has the potential to be a great CB in the NFL. Henderson started his 2019 Season with a great game vs. Miami, as he ran with every WR he covered and prevented separation. His season went downhill from there, as he missed 3 straight games (Kentucky, Tennessee, Townson) with a leg injury he suffered in Week 2. He came back from that injury with a great game against Auburn, but every game since then he showed many weaknesses. Henderson didn’t look like the same player after he came back from injury. The reason I have him at the #5 spot is that we know he showed flashes of greatness last season. If he can just stay consistent, he could be a starter for the Eagles in a few years. That is the ultimate caveat, as he has not been able to stay healthy or consistent in his young career. However, I could definitely see the Eagles selecting him because of his size and speed. If the Eagles do decide to take a CB, Henderson would be a great option at #21.
The real deciding factor on who the Eagles will take will depend fully on Free Agency. If they decide to pay big money for a CB, then they will draft a WR and vice versa. I believe the Eagles will target CBs when Free Agency opens (March 18th) and then focus on WRs in the first and maybe even second round as well. After all the drops last season, there is no reason to believe that the Eagles will not take a WR at #21.