With the 2021 NFL Draft right around the corner, fans have been flooded with mock drafts around the league. But rather than predicting who each team will pick, the focus is now on which player is truly the best fit.
According to ESPN Insider Matt Bowen, wide receiver Jaylen Waddle is the best prospect for the Philadelphia Eagles.
ESPN’s Bowen stated the following:
Jaylen Waddle, Philadelphia Eagles
Height: 5’10 | Weight: 180 | School: Alabama
Where the Eagles could get him: Round 1 (No. 12)
Why he fits: If the Eagles don’t go after a corner in Round 1, Waddle should be the guy they set their sights on because of his explosive traits as a motion and movement target for second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts.
With new coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen in Philly, Waddle can play the T.Y. Hilton role in this system. Run the crossers in the mesh concept, the dig routes, the slot fades. Plus, given Waddle’s sudden quickness, he can also be schemed on screens and fly sweeps.
In this situation, the Eagles add another target with field-stretching speed after drafting Jalen Reagor in the first round last year. Waddle is more refined as a route runner than Reagor, which would give Hurts a target who can create both second-and third-level separation.
WADDLE’S COLLEGIATE CAREER
Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle started as a true freshman in 2018. Becoming the SEC Freshman of the Year, he recorded 45 receptions for 848 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2019, Waddle was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Year, finishing with 33 reception for 560 yards and six touchdowns.
On track to win the Heisman Trophy, Waddle played four games in 2020 before suffering a broken ankle, averaging 139 yards per game. Alabama teammate DeVonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy instead. However, Waddle now leads the draft class in career yards per route run, solidifying a #8 overall draft rank.
BEST FIT FOR THE EAGLES
With the loss of DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles need of a wide receiver. Though fans were set on Ja’Marr Chase [before the Eagles’ trade down], Waddle will likely have better chemistry with the team.
Waddle played with Eagles’ quarterback Jalen Hurts while the pair were at Alabama. Hurts stated, “The things he can do with the ball in his hands. His speed, athleticism, high-pointing the ball, all that, there’s not anything he can’t do.”
The two seem to have a close relationship which may ultimately translate to a better connection on the field. If able to complete passes, his speed and agility could easily make him Philadelphia’s best wide receiver.
The 2021 NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 29.