Philadelphia Eagles: 2020 NFL Draft Wishlist – WR

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By Stone Loitfellner, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

If there’s one thing that a majority of Philadelphia fans can agree on it’s that Howie Roseman and the Eagles need to make the right choice at wide receiver in this year’s draft. Not only were the offensive struggles woefully visible throughout the season, but almost the entirety of the receiver corps also underperformed.

Alshon Jeffery, who was supposed to be a sure-handed, number one possession receiver, had a 353 (receiving) yard drop off from 2018 as well as 11.8 percent decrease in catches. Although Nelson Agholor played in five fewer games in the 2019 season compared to 2018, he saw a 373-yard decrease in receiving yards, 25 fewer catches and a 9.5 percent drop off for his catch percentage.

It’s hardly difficult to see that the Eagles are in desperate need of immediate improvement and impact at wide receiver and with many saying 2020’s draft class is historically deep there are no excuses for the Eagles to miss out on a ready and waiting offensive talent. 

In this article, I’m going to be looking at and ranking wide receiver prospects based on their intangibles, pre-combine rankings and mock draft positions. To explain further there may be receivers with tremendous upside that could be viewed as higher on the list since they’re projected to go in later rounds. However, the guidelines I’m using is factoring in projected draft placement with higher rounds (1-3) being valued more than later rounds (4-7).

1. Henry Ruggs III 6’0″ 190lbs – Alabama

To start things off is a prospect that may or may not make it to Philadelphia’s first-round pick which is 21st in the draft.  However, Matt Miller‘s mock draft on Bleacher Report has the talented prospect falling all the way to 21 for the Eagles to snatch. This would also have Ruggs as just the third receiver taken (behind Jerry Jeudy at 12 and CeeDee Lamb at 15). At the same time, there’s the mock draft by that has Ruggs going 15th overall which, personally, I’m okay with since this same mock has us getting a name that will appear later on this list. 

The young and talented receiver played in 12 games last year and was able to put up 746 yards and seven touchdowns off of 4o receptions last season (not to mention his 24 career receiving touchdowns, just two shy of Jeudy’s). Even though Jerry Jeudy may have outshined Ruggs last season, many say Ruggs possesses the most speed out of the strong Alabama receiving core. Honestly, it shows. Turn on the tape and it won’t take long to see Ruggs stretch the field and show off his explosive speed. 

2. Laviska Shenault Jr. 6’2″ 220lbs – Colorado

So, remember that player that the one mock draft had us getting instead of Ruggs? This is him. Shenault, in Miller’s mock draft, is actually predicted to slide down to the 33rd pick, or the first pick of the second round, which is surprising but makes sense at the same time. Miller has two other receivers going higher than Shenault, both are from bigger, more recognized programs in Clemson and LSU. Shenault could be the perfect example of a primetime player on a non-primetime school jumping around slightly in position rankings site to site which may, in turn, slightly hurt his draft stock. Still, this could work in Philly’s favor since the big body receiver looks like he could make an immediate impact. 

For anyone who hasn’t seen Shenault in action, the term receiver should be used lightly when labeling the prospect. Shenault didn’t just put up 764 yards and four touchdowns off 56 catches in 11 games he also put up 161 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 23 attempts, routinely running sets out of the wildcat formation. It makes him an offensive weapon to say the least.  

If you’re not impressed yet that’s fine, but before final judgment on Shenault, it’s only fair to bring up his 2018 season when he stood out with six touchdowns and 1,011 yards off 86 catches in only nine games. Plus, if there’s any question to rather or not he fits in with the Philadelphia grit and grind culture, just watch him play. 

3. Tee Higgins 6’4″ 200lbs – Clemson

A mismatch in the making is the first thing that comes to mind when looking at Higgins. His tall, lengthy build combined with his leaping ability makes him perfect for a jump ball, especially in the endzone. Higgins showed off his abilities in 2019 recording 59 receptions, 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns. Higgins is also tied with DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins for the most receiving touchdowns in school history with 27.

However, he does suffer the fate of a sliding and inconsistent draft status. While Matt Miller’s mock has Higgins going right after Philly to the Bills, Mel Kiper has the Eagles selecting Higgins at 21. Meanwhile, Walterfootball has him going all the way down to 41 to the Browns. Ryan Wilson of CBS has him going 30th to the Packers. 

Regardless, Higgins could easily boost the Eagles offense and provide a deep threat that can go up and snatch a 50/50 ball for Wentz when needed. Even though he’s shown his ability to go up and fight for a pass don’t let that lull you into believing Higgins can’t cause separation from his defender. As for any speculation that the Heisman trophy winner being his quarterback is making him look good, a quick viewing of his film will show his ability to not only strong-arm the ball but his ability to blow past defenders for an open deep ball as well, silencing any doubts. 

4. Jalen Reagor 5’11” 195lbs – TCU 

Although he may lack stunning size, Jalen Reagor makes up for it with stunning speed and the ability to highpoint the ball with the determination to be the one that hits the ground securing the football. Not only does his speed and tenacity help him at the receiver position but as a returner too, adding a whole new dimension to his game and draft status. Reagor is yet another example of the sliding draft rank scale with some mocks having him go at pick 22 and others having him fall all the way to 57. This actually works in Philly’s favor leaving room to not only have him as a safety net for pick 21 but also a slight possibility of grabbing him with pick 53, weather or not the team chooses a wideout with their first pick. Just imagine a combination of Ruggs, Shenault, or Higgs with Reagor, there could be a new dynamic duo brewing.

Even though Reagor’s 2019 season saw a decline in his numbers from 2018, there have been concerns over TCU’s quarterback play, which could be a factor to Reagor’s drop off in numbers. Reagor, in 2019, only put up 43 catches, 611 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games. In 2018, with just one more game played, he managed 72 catches for 1,061 yards and nine touchdowns. Then there’s his returning statistics where, in 2019, he put up 312 yards and two touchdowns off 15 punt returns as well as 72 yards off five kick returns. 

Though Reagor lacks the ideal build Philadelphia fans may be looking for in their next top receiver, he does make up for it with getaway speed and a “mine or nobodies” approach to catching the ball that reminds me of DeSean Jackson. A quick look at his tape and something looks awfully familiar about a speedy college receiver that can return punts sporting the number one. Reagor also seemed to run a familiar end-around play in college that the Eagles liked to run with Agholor. 

5. Brandon Aiyuk 5’11” 201lbs – Arizona State

We’re practically out of the first round with Aiyuk being projected to be a second to third-round pick with Miller’s mock having him go 40th and Walterfootball’s having him sliding down to the 61st pick. However, Chris Trapasso from CBS has the Arizona State product going to Philly at 21 (over Tee Higgins). Meaning there’s a wide window of opportunity for the Eagles to select Aiyuk if they find him to be the right fit. 

Lacking outstanding intangibles Aiyuk uses pure skill to beat his defenders. Showing the ability to stretch the field by getting past his receiver with some nice subtle moves and speed. His previous season’s statistics cement his abilities, putting up 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns off 65 catches in 12 games. Aiyuk also possesses the ability to be dangerous in the return game taking 14 punts for 226 yards and a touchdown while taking 14 kickoffs back for 446 yards.

Even with his intangibles not popping out to the eye, Aiyuk could provide Philadelphia with a needed deep threat that can still go up for jump balls when needed, using his long body and arms to his advantage. In addition to this, Aiyuk has shown the capability to gain yards after the catch and shows a separation speed that almost guarantees extra yardage on each play. If you aren’t sold yet, just watch some of his highlights from 2019.

6. K.J. Hamler 5’9″ 176lbs – Penn State

I know I’ve been bringing up intangibles but Hamler’s are definitely ones that stand out in not particularly the best way. To be upfront with everyone, I was initially against Hamler all together due to his size. However, amongst further viewing and research, I opened my mind to the idea of having the Penn State product on the Eagles roster next year. 

K.J. Hamler proved that sometimes speed can be valued over size, breaking Saquon Barkley’s rookie record for all-purpose yards by a Nittany Lion with 1,417 during the 2018 season. He also stands at number six in Penn State history in kickoff yards with 523 in 2018. In 2019, he was able to put up 56 catches for 904 yards and eight touchdowns as well as 513 kick return yards off 23 returns. 

As far as Hamler’s draft status, he’s a projected second to third-round pick being placed at 60th and 42nd in separate mock drafts. Even though his size may initially deter fans from wanting him, I suggest they watch some of Hamler’s highlights and keep in mind that the legion of zoom lead by 5’10” Tyreek Hill just won the Super Bowl. Besides, it would be nice to add another homegrown talent to the offense, pairing Hamler with fellow Penn State alum Miles Sanders

7. Bryan Edwards 6’3″ 220lbs – South Carolina

Edwards may be after Hamler on this list but frankly, the two are practically interchangeable. This prospect seems to be ranked unfairly low for a school record-breaking receiver. Edwards holds the records for consecutive games with a catch with 48, recording a reception in every game he played in. As well as holding the record in receiving yards with 3,045 and receptions with 234. As for touchdowns, Edwards ranks second, one shy of Sidney Rice and Alshon Jeffery’s record of 23. 

Even though Edwards has these accomplishments to his name, he’s only projected to go in the third or fourth round. This could be influenced by Edwards’ knee injury that he suffered near the end of the 2019 season. Edwards would end up having surgery for this injury, missing the Senior Bowl since he said his knee wasn’t feeling 100%. Understandably, before any combine workouts, Edwards is projected for day two due to a wavering concern over how good his knee is to go. 

Regardless, it takes literally thirty seconds of viewing his highlights to make the eyes pop and jaws drop. Among further observation, it doesn’t take long to see that Edwards possesses first-round talent. Though his size stands out more than anything, it’s undeniable that Edwards has getaway speed. Edwards speed was displayed perfectly on a screen pass against Missouri that he took 74 yards with a diving effort to score the touchdown that was ultimately ruled short by a yard. I can say without hesitation that Bryan Edwards will provide a spark to any NFL offense he goes to, hopefully, it’s Philadelphia’s. 

8. Jauan Jennings 6’3″ 206lbs – Tennesse 

Jennings would make a great fit in Philadelphia, playing with enough tenacity to earn the nickname “The Dawg”. Jennings himself described what he thought about the nickname, “When I think about a dog, I’m thinking something wild…I’m thinking something that’s off the streets like something gritty.” Of course, this kind of attitude isn’t always received with open arms and could be the cause for some of Jennings “incidents” in college and could be part of the reason that character concerns seem to be the main deterrent to teams, causing him to have a fourth to sixth-round projection. 

For starters, Jennings was dismissed from the team in 2017 after ranting about the Tennesse Vols coaching staff on Instagram. On the field, there was another event in 2019 that could raise a red flag to teams during the meticulous prospect inspection process. During a game against Vanderbilt, Jennings was involved in a play on the sidelines that went out of bounds resulting in a scuffle on the ground, upon getting up it appeared that Jennings stepped on the Vanderbilt player who was still on the ground. Of course, Jennings would be questioned about this and would claim that it was an accident, however Jennings’ coach would come to defend him stating “Jauan Jennings has done nothing but do everything exactly the way we wanted him to since I’ve been the head coach at Tennessee.” Head coach Jeremy Pruitt would go onto say, “The guy’s graduated, he’s competed, he’s been a great leader…..Jauan plays the right way.” Yes, it’s the coach coming to his player’s defense, but he didn’t have to go out of his way to publically give Jennins that praise. 

Regardless of all of this, Jenning truly plays with heart and gives his all on the field posting 969 yards and eight touchdowns off 59 catches in 13 games during his 2019 campaign. Furthermore, it shows in his 2019 highlights where he routinely displayed the ability to out-want the defender and stay completely concentrated on the ball. Although some may see character issues in Jennings, I see a perfect mold for a Philly star in the making, having the size, talent and heart to fit perfectly in the city of brotherly love. 

9. Antonio Gandy-Golden 6’3″ 222lbs – Liberty 

Gandy-Golden may have flown under many people’s radars playing for a lesser-tiered school in Liberty. Nevertheless, Gandy-Golden has been doing his thing since his sophomore season, posting three straight seasons of at least a thousand yards and ten touchdowns. 2019, Gandy-Golden’s senior year, was his best season statistically, posting 79 catches, 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

Even though he’s low on this list, Gandy-Golden could be a great fit in Philadelphia with most scouts seeing a mismatch weapon for the NFL. Gandy-Golden also shows the ability to track and play the ball in the air with dangerous run after the catch capability.  Gandy-Golden’s draft status may be heavily impacted by where he attends school, with the level of competition being seen as inferior to divisions such as the Pac-12 or Big Ten. However, after impressing scouts and coaches during Senior Bowl workouts may have boosted his draft stock. Still, Gandy-Golden has been slated to be taken anywhere from 87th overall to 152nd. The latter being ideal for Philly since they hold the 124th pick as well as the possibilities of having the 140th and 146th picks due to compensation. At the same time, some reports could see the talented but hidden receiver being named in the first round of the draft, which would most likely be around the eagles 21st overall pick. 

As for as projections go, what I could see with my own eyes while watching his tape tells me he’s worth a first-round pick and anything later would be a steal. Gandy-Golden plays with a high motor while looking very natural as he runs routes and makes catches. Although strength may not be his go-to tactic Gandy-Golden doesn’t show any signs of shying away from contact and has multiple examples of him catching a pass with hardly, if any, separation when needed. 

10. Denzel Mims 6’3″ 215lbs – Baylor

Finally, we come to the end of my Eagles rookie receiver wishlist with Denzel Mims. The talented prospect out of Baylor is said to have one of the best size and explosiveness combinations in the draft. Although he was able to put up impressive numbers in 2019 with 66 catches, 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns, Mims has only been projected as a third-round pick at the highest while also being viewed as a sixth-round draft pick by some.

However, Mims was able to impress during the Senior Bowl and the practices leading up to the game. Winning 94 percent of his routes in one-on-ones earning him the highest grade any receiver has ever received, helping him climb up some draft boards. Certainly, this could mean that Mims’ participation in the combine could boost his overall draft status. 

It doesn’t take long to see Mims’ abilities on display in this highlight reel that shows him making a catch spinning then stopping on a dime to get himself some open yardage. Not only does Mims have adequate size for an NFL receiver he has showcased the capability of having sure feet, making sideline catches with both feet down inbounds. Not to mention the focus and speed that he has. Ultimately it looks like Denzel Mims could be an offensive weapon for the Eagles that could stretch the field while also being effective with shorter routes. 

Honorable Mentions

Michael Pittman Jr. 6’4″ 220lbs – USC

Chase Claypool 6’5″ 229lbs – Norte Dame

Lynn Bowden Jr. 6’1″ 199lbs – Kentucky

Kalija Lipscomb 6’1″ 201lbs – Vanderbilt

Kendrick Rogers 6’4″ 204lbs – Texas A&M.

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