• Andrew DiCecco

Ask Andrew: Birds Already Looking To '22 Draft?

In the coming days, teams will work frantically to put a bow on an unprecedented pre-draft evaluation cycle, as roughly one week remains between now and their ultimate test – the 2021 NFL Draft.


For some decision-makers, like Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman, every move will be viewed under a microscope. Given the franchise's longstanding history of insufficient drafting and currently muddled outlook, this could be Roseman's final opportunity to swing the proverbial bat for the Eagles.


As the countdown to next Thursday begins, I fielded another round of questions. Let's get to it!

(The 2021 NFL Draft offers another deep stock of wide receivers, like Alabama's DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle)

From ITB Facebook Group: Sean Woolford

Q. How do you compare this years receiver class to last year’s and what position group is the deepest this year (wr, cb, tackle as examples)?


A. Thanks for your question, Sean. As far as this particular crop of pass-catchers, it compares favorably to the historically deep class of a season ago but doesn’t quite eclipse it. However, this group runs extremely deep in terms of slot receivers. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles came away with a pair of wide receivers and capitalize on the immense talent. As big of a Greg Ward advocate as I’ve been, they must actively seek out a more dynamic option out of the slot.


As for the deepest position in this class, I’d have to say it’s wide receiver, with offensive tackle not far behind.


From ITB Facebook Group: Sean Parise

Q. Do you think, with the eagles having possibly 3 first rd picks next year, have to weigh which groups to draft this year and what to pick next season. If a certain group is stronger next year than this year do they pass on certain players this year?


A. While that makes sense on the surface, that line of thinking can get teams in trouble. It is never good to look too far ahead, in my opinion, as it tends to build a false sense of security in that you can bypass talent in the present with the thought of waiting and getting "Player X" in the future. Within the next year, unheralded prospects will emerge, some premier talents will inevitably regress, and of course, injuries always factor into the equation.


From ITB Facebook Group: Aaron Puga

Q. Should the eagles value future draft picks (next years draft) a lot higher than usual seeing how there’ll be more opportunities to scout players? Such as the combine and personal workouts.

A. Yes, they absolutely should. For one, the added draft ammo allows the scouting department a head start to do its due diligence, but also gives Nick Sirianni a full season to assess his needs and identify the best fits for his system.


From ITB Facebook Group: Tom Dub

Q. There seems to be a lot of debate over the second tier of corners, some have campbell high while others are skeptical, same goes for stokes, and the UCF and Syracuse corners, where do they stack up for you?


A. Well, in response to Campbell, I identify as skeptical. Tremendous athlete and offers a potentially higher upside than Georgia counterpart Eric Stokes, but he’s also far less refined and could face a steeper learning curve at the next level. Campbell will be drafted off projection. For a team like the Eagles, who need immediate reinforcements and can’t afford to gamble on projection, Stokes would be the safer pick. I think he’ll come off the board right around when the Eagles are on the clock at the top of Day 2.


By UCF, I assume you're referring to Tay Gowan, though his teammate Aaron Robinson is no slouch. I have both prospects ranked above Syracuse corner Trill Williams. Robinson and Gowan are vastly different players, however, as Robinson identifies as more of an inside defender.


From ITB Facebook Group: Jeff Gamber

Q. If you had your choice of the top CB at pick 12 or Waddle/Smith would you take the CB and hit WR in later round.


A. I would, Jeff. The Eagles should find themselves in position to come away with perhaps the most upside-laden cornerback in this class in Jaycee Horn at No. 12. This addition would finally give them a cornerstone at the position after years of trotting out discarded free agents and miscast draft picks. As for wide receiver, I think they could nab a starting X at 37 in LSU’s Terrace Marshall, but should they opt to go elsewhere, there will be other opportunities to land one at 84 – like UNC’s Dyami Brown.


From ITB Facebook Group: Chris Glover

Q. Are there any hybrid linebacker/safety players you like day 2 or 3 that could make this team? Passing on Jeremy Chinn last year still bothers me a bit. I would have liked to been able to see more of Hamsah Nasirildeen the last couple seasons.


A. Yes, Virginia Tech’s Divine Deablo. Probably an early Day 3 selection at this juncture, but he’s a smart, instinctive defender and will likely hold a dime linebacker role as a rookie. Extremely physical player who craves contacts, swarms to the ball, and plays with urgency. Not particularly fluid, and his limitations were evident during Senior Bowl practices, but Deablo can be effective and establish a niche at the next level under proper tutelage.


From Twitter: Chris I. (@Igbassious)

Q. If the Eagles stay at 12, and if both are available, would the birds take Smith or Horn?


A. Horn has the skill set to transform the back end in the early goings, so I’m inclined to think they’d lean Jaycee Horn at 12 and utilize the premium Day 2 pick to upgrade the receiving corps. It’s unclear how much of an impact new DC Jonathan Gannon will have in the selection process, but as a former DB coach, there could be a greater emphasis placed on solidifying the position.


From Twitter: Anthony Ricciuti (@Richooots)

Q. Who's an ideal LB or two outside of Rd 1 you can see as a "fit" for the Birds.


A. Ohio State’s Baron Browning; LSU’s Jabril Cox. Browning figures to slot right around 37, while Cox is expected to go mid-late Day 2.


From Twitter: Jeremy Lupowitz (@JALupowitz)

Q. Would love to hear any thoughts/info you guys have on Christian Barmore. Is he an option for the Eagles at #12?


A. I not only wrote about Barmore in my latest notebook entry for InsidetheBirds.com, I also offered my thoughts on the DT position as a whole as well as highlight players of intrigue. Hope this helps!


From Twitter: Butt out Jeff! (@mattkrady)

Q. Most likely need that will not be addressed during the draft?


A. If I had to guess, I’d lean defensive tackle and possibly interior offensive line. I lead with defensive tackle simply due to the lack of overall depth at the position. Based on where the Eagles will be picking and the players who should fall within that range, I’m not sure I envision them reaching to secure an interior defender simply to fill a need. I could potentially see a late-round depth addition if the stars align, but I think the best course of action would be waiting to see which prospects emerge next season and reshape the position in 2022.


From Twitter: BCB JR (@WanderingBear86)

Q. I’m a Pitt grad, and biased- where do you see Hamlin and Ford getting drafted? Round wise


A. I currently have a fourth-round grade on Ford and a sixth-round grade on Hamlin. I’m partial to Ford, as I feel his athleticism, toughness, and physicality translates well to the next level despite his poor testing numbers.


–– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com. Listen to the latest "Inside The Birds" podcast from Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan here:

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