Slide Coming For Top WR Prospect?
Every year, there’s a first-round draft prospect who tumbles way down the board, sometimes even out of the first round.
Last year, Ole Miss wideout D.K. Metcalf fell to Seattle late in the second round. A year earlier, LSU running back Derrius Guice fell to 59th overall, where Washington picked him. Everyone remembers the gas-mask pot-smoking incident that dropped Laremy Tunsil from surefire top-5 pick to 13th overall for the Dolphins.
Reports in the past 24 hours suggest Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy could be this year’s victim of a sudden free-fall. Natalie Egenolf, a co-host on 97.5 The Fanatic, dropped a perceived bombshell Tuesday with a Twitter report citing an unnamed source that undisclosed knee injuries could scare off teams picking in the upper end of the first round.
Two high-ranking NFL personnel people told Inside the Birds that Jeudy’s medicals are known, but neither source forecasted a precipitous drop for the former Crimson Tide star.
“Depends on teams,” one source, from an NFC team, said, adding that some could “see him as less risk” than others.
Added the other, from an AFC squad: “Some concern (about Jeudy’s knees). Not as clean as other top [wideouts.] Longevity concern.”
The draft is best used by NFL teams to build a foundation for the future, not just immediate pay-off. Most executives are looking three-to-four years down the road when evaluating prospects, which is why raw, unpolished prospects who present tantalizing upside are often taken ahead of more experienced contemporaries.
If teams believe knee issues surrounding Jeudy will become problematic by his second contract, they could be willing to pass on the draft’s best overall receiver despite the immediate production Jeudy could bring.
Arthritic shoulder concerns enabled former Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen’s drop from top-5 pick to 17th overall to Washington in 2017. Teams knew about Allen’s medicals but many in the media didn’t, which explained the stark difference between Allen’s appearance as a top-five pick in mock drafts compared to his eventual slot past the midway point in the first round.
Jeudy is considered by many as the top receiver prospect in a historically deep and talented class, but some scouts have said they prefer CeeDee Lamb and there’s also debate on how high Jeudy will be taken even if he’s the first receiver off the board.
Demand for quarterbacks, offensive tackles and pass rushers — combined with extreme depth at receiver — already threatens to push Jeudy out of the top 10 apart from his injuries. In the Inside the Birds Mock Draft, Jeudy was the first receiver taken but fell to the New York Jets at 11th overall.
If Jeudy isn’t taken until midway through the first, is that considered a slide due to medicals or just demand for players at other positions? That’s a question further complicated by any trades that take place in the top 15 from teams eyeing players at other positions.
Eagles fans hoping that Jeudy plummets to 21, though, are probably just thinking wishfully. At some point past 12-15, the value for Jeudy just becomes too hard to resist, even if concerns about his knees are legit.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is a longtime Philadelphia Eagles and NFL reporter and co-host of Inside the Birds.