NFL Draft Betting: Which Wide Receiver Could the Eagles Select in the First Round?
The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East for the second time in three years, recording their third straight playoff appearance in 2019, and there's a lot to like in the City of Brotherly Love for 2020.
The Eagles' up-and-down 2019 season was due to injuries to their franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and a lack of playmakers when it mattered most. Philadelphia lost five of their seven games by single digits last season, but they still closed the regular season out on a four-game winning streak thanks to running backs Boston Scott and Miles Sanders and tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert leading the team in rushing and receiving the last month of the season.
However, at wide receiver, the Eagles were a mess in 2019.
Philadelphia's number one wideout, Alshon Jeffery, missed six games with four different injuries, spanning from a bicep and calf strain within the first month of the regular season to an ankle and mid-foot sprain late in the year that ended his campaign at Week 13. Jeffrey finished with 43 receptions for 490 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Number two wide receiver DeSean Jackson is back after exiting in Week 3 with an abdominal strain that required surgery and missing the remainder of the season. Jackson was the most hyped player the Eagles signed in 2019 free agency, and he finished the season with 9 receptions for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Nelson Agholor was let go from Philly after a season in which his dropped passes were a topic of discussion whenever his name came up, especially after this fan video went viral. He's found a home in Las Vegas with the Raiders, and that leaves J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the number three receiver. Arcega-Whiteside finished 2019 with 10 receptions, 169 yards, and a touchdown in 16 games.
The Eagles as a team finished tied for the 10th-most drops in the league (29), with wide receivers and tight ends leading the team with 10 apiece and running backs adding nine.
Ertz remains the primary target in 2020 despite registering 88 receptions on 135 targets -- a season after setting career-highs with 116 catches on 156 targets -- but it's clearly time for the Eagles to draft a young playmaker to pair out wide with Wentz as he enters his prime.
What better class to find a franchise wide receiver or two than the stacked 2020 class? Let's take a look at the three best wide receivers for the Eagles to select No. 21 overall on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Justin Jefferson +170
If you haven't heard of Jefferson, you could very well by the end of the 2020 season. He is the favorite for the Eagles to draft, and that's for a few good reasons.
The first is his draft projection is slated near the Eagles selection at No. 21, and the likes of Alabama's Jerry Juedy and Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb will likely be gone unless the Eagles trade up. The Eagles would certainly prefer either over the rest of the rookie class, but both are likely to go top 15, and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller pegs Jeudy as high as No. 5 overall on his big board. This year, there are six potential wide receivers going in the first round, which would be the most since six were taken in 2015.
LSU had a phenomenal season, and Jefferson's quarterback, Joe Burrow, is expected be going No. 1 overall in the draft. Jefferson is 21 years old and tied for the FBS lead with 111 receptions in 15 starts last season, recording 1,540 yards and hauling in the second-most receiving touchdowns in the country to teammate Ja'Marr Chase with 18.
Jefferson measured at 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds during the NFL Combine despite being listed at 6-foot-3 during his time at LSU. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash and played most of the snaps his final season from the slot, which is where he would split time with DeSean Jackson. Jefferson has proved he can be a quarterback's best friend after 165 receptions, 2,415 yards, and 24 touchdowns over 28 games in two seasons with Burrow. He had a catch rate of 91% his final season, scored in 11 of 15 games, and caught 111 of his 121 targets -- it doesn't get any better than that.
If the Eagles miss out on Jeudy or Lamb, securing Jefferson will be must for Howie Roseman. If he misses the chance on Jefferson, then Jeudy's teammate at Alabama would be a nice secondary option.
Henry Ruggs III +500
Ruggs may have been outshined by Jeudy at Alabama, but he is an explosive talent that was featured out wide, in the slot, and in the backfield for Nick Saban's offense. Alabama had the most dangerous trio of receivers, throwing DeVonta Smith into the fold.
Ruggs posted back-to-back consistent seasons with the Tide, recording 46 receptions, 741 yards, and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore and 40 receptions, 746 yards, and 7 touchdowns as a junior. He posted a catch rate of 74% or higher in both seasons and played at least 12 games in all three years.
His big play ability was shown this season, as he led the team with 18.7 yards per catch If you compared his playmaking ability to current NFL wideouts, it would have to be Calvin Ridley and Curtis Samuel. Ruggs recorded a play of 25 or more yards in 9 of his 12 games his junior year and 8 of 14 his sophomore season.
Ruggs showed out in late February, stealing the spotlight by running a combine-best 4.27 in the 40-yard dash and tying the second-highest vertical jump at 42.0 inches.
The Eagles lacked big plays once Jackson went down and only four times was a receiver able to record over 100 yards last season. Sanders was the lone rusher to top 100 yards in a game last season, doing so once. A guy like Ruggs in the slot or paired with Jackson on one side of the field and Ertz and Jeffrey on the other is a dangerous sight with Wentz under center.
Tee Higgins +1400
Higgins is perhaps the biggest sleeper of the wide receiver class, both physically and figuratively speaking. Higgins standing at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds, and he scored a touchdown on 20 percent of his catches at Clemson. At 6-foot-4, he has rare instincts once the ball goes up, excelling in high-pointing and coming down in traffic. His body is comparable to A.J. Green's and the way he dominates smaller cornerbacks on deep routes and jump ball situations is very comparable, as well.
Higgins was a two-sport athlete in high school as one of the best football and basketball players in not only Tennessee but the entire country.
At Clemson, Higgins impressed as a true freshman, playing in 13 games for the Tigers and scoring twice before blowing up in his sophomore campaign. Higgins made second-team All-ACC as a sophomore and was named first-team All-ACC as a junior. He posted 59 receptions in both seasons, going for 936 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore and 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. Higgins capped off his Clemson career tied with DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins for the most receiving touchdowns in school history with 27.
Pairing Higgins with the 6-foot-3 Jeffrey would allow a healthy and speedy Jackson to man the slot -- a great fit for the Philadelphia offense. They would become a red zone nightmare for opponents if they drafted Higgins after converting 63.16% of their trips inside the 20 to touchdowns in 2019 (8th). Higgins might have the most upside of all the receivers in this class, and his frame would certainly provide Wentz with an easy target.