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Odds Heavily Favor Eagles Taking LSU WR Justin Jefferson With 21st Pick in Draft

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in NFL Football

Updated Mar 30, 2021 · 7:48 AM PDT

Justin Jefferson of the Vikings
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates with teammate Dalvin Cook, right, after catching a 20-yard touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
  • LSU WR Justin Jefferson is the favorite to be drafted by the WR-needy Philadelphia Eagles in the 2020 NFL Draft
  • Despite making the playoffs three straight years, the Eagles have a few other major holes to fill
  • Read below to see odds and analysis on who Philadelphia might take in the first round

Philadelphia Eagles fans are rightfully panicking after the team failed to add anyone in free agency to fill the team’s most glaring need: backup quarterback.

Just kidding. That panic will no doubt come, but right now, everyone wants to see the team get some receiving help for the oft-injured Carson Wentz. Greg Ward, Mack Hollins, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Robert Davis and Deontay Burnett were just some of the underwhelming names that started for Philly at wide receiver in 2019.

As a result, oddsmakers predict the Eagles target a target for Wentz right out of the gate in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Eagles First Pick in 2020 NFL Draft Odds

Player Odds
Justin Jefferson (WR) +170
Henry Ruggs III (WR) +500
Denzel Mims (WR) +500
Jerry Jeudy (WR) +800
Ceedee Lamb (WR) +800
Jalen Reagor (WR) +850
Tee Higgins (WR) +1400
Xavier McKinney (S) +1600
Grant Delpit (S) +1700
Patrick Queen (LB) +1700
Kenneth Murray (LB) +3300
C.J. Henderson (CB) +3300
Jeff Gladney (CB) +3300

Odds taken April 1st

Who could be available for the Eagles with their first pick? Let’s explore.

Philly Has a Need for Speed

Along with receiver, linebacker and defensive back are the biggest positions of need for Philly. But after a season in which no Philly wideout topped 500 yards and DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey both proved to be made of glass, fans obviously have a preference for how this first pick will go.

As you’ve probably heard, this is the year if you need to draft a wide receiver. Some order of CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III will likely be the three to have their names called first, but after that, it’s wide open: Laviska Shenault Jr., Brandon Aiyuk, Tee Higgins, Denzel Mims, Jalen Reagor and Justin Jefferson could all be taken in the opening round.

For some reason, the mock draft world seems to have latched on to the LSU receiver going to the Eagles at 21, which is why he’s such a big favorite in these odds. However, if he was really the consensus fourth-best receiver (he’s not), he likely wouldn’t be there for Philly to take anyway. And some analysts are far less enthused by the recent national champ.

Considering some of these receivers should still be available in the second round, it’s also possible Philly grabs a defensive stud while they still can at 21 and waits until later to get a pass catcher. Of course, that assumes they stay put.

Trading in the Roseman Era

In each draft since Howie Roseman regained the general manager title in 2016, Philly’s first player has been taken with a pick that belonged to another team.

First there was the famous trade for second overall that netted them Wentz. Then, they swapped Sam Bradford for Minnesota’s first-rounder and got Derek Barnett. In 2018, the Eagles traded back into the second round to allow the Ravens to get Lamar Jackson and last year, Baltimore returned the favor, allowing Philly to move up and grab Andre Dillard.

Heading into this draft, Philly has eight draft picks, including three in the fourth round. So while these odds are set with an eye on who might be available around the 21st spot, keep in mind that the Eagles could be selecting much sooner (or later) than that.

The Falcons, with only six selections and the 16th overall pick, could be a trade partner should Philly want to move up to get a falling receiver.  A trade back with the Vikings or Dolphins could also make sense if they want to take multiple stabs at pass catchers later in the draft.

Who Will Philly Take?

There’s no reason any one player should have +170 odds to be taken by a team with the 21st overall pick. At that stage in the draft, there’s too many unknowns to feel great about Jefferson being available and  being viewed as “the guy” by Philly’s war room.

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What if there’s a run on WRs and Jefferson gets picked by the Jags at 20?  What if Ruggs starts falling and Philly can trade up to get him? What if a defensive player Roseman really likes is still on the board? What if the Eagles can’t get their draft pick in on time?

Jefferson is a bad value bet here for all those reasons and more. But we’re not just here to poo-poo plays.

There’s nice value in TCU’s Jalen Reagor (+850) and Clemson’s Tee Higgins (+1400) being the first to join the Eagles.  You may also want to sprinkle a little on C.J. Henderson and Kenneth Murray (both +3300) as well, just in case Philly focuses on D first.

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