Philadelphia Eagles: Ideal first-round targets in 2021 NFL Draft

2021 NFL Draft prospect Kyle Pitts #84 of the Florida Gators (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
2021 NFL Draft prospect Kyle Pitts #84 of the Florida Gators (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /
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2021 NFL Draft, Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles look to build around Jalen Hurts in the 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After a disappointing 2020 regular season that saw the departures of former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson, the Philadelphia Eagles were set to select sixth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Eagles completed a trade with Miami to move back to the 12th spot as they transition towards the new season under rookie head coach Nick Sirianni.

Sirianni takes over after serving as the Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator since 2018 and is expected to get the best out of the 2020 second-round pick, Jalen Hurts. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has apparently given the keys to the franchise to Hurts, and the Eagles should expect to build around the young quarterback as they approach the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Eagles have yet to put significant pieces around Hurts in free agency, primarily as they continue to comply with the NFL’s reduced salary cap. However, one free agency signing further indicates Philadelphia’s future lays with Hurts. The Eagles signed 36-year-old, former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco to a one-year contract showing the Eagles are looking to add a leader behind Hurts.

Flacco’s one-year contract could go up to $4 million with incentives, and while the former Super Bowl champion is well past his prime, joining his fourth team in as many years, the Philadelphia Eagles are looking to get more out of Flacco than the typical back-up quarterback. Flacco will likely be seen as more of an assistant coach to Hurts, teaching the intangibles and leadership skills currently missing from the quarterback room following the Wentz trade.

Philadelphia’s entire offseason has been a change in the guard and will likely be completed following the 2021 NFL Draft. The decision to fire Pederson and trade Wentz established the Eagle’s belief in Hurts, and despite multiple gaps both on offense and defense, the Eagles will look to build around their new quarterback with the 12th overall pick.

Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida

Tight end is often considered the safety blanket for a young quarterback and Florida’s Kyle Pitts, looks to be the most explosive player coming out of college at the position in recent years. Pitts is an absolute mismatch at tight end, possessing an ideal combination of size and speed. Pitts recently clocked an eye-watering 4.46 40-yard dash time and measures at 6-foot-6. Pitts has the size and speed to realign as an exterior receiver when needed or frustrate linebackers inside.

Pitts completed his sophomore year hauling in 54 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns and entering the 2020 season as a top prospect to watch. After an incredible 2020 season, Pitts continued to rise up draft boards and could go as high as sixth to the Eagles. In just eight games, Pitts recorded an additional 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns, leading the Gators to the SEC Championship game and helping take quarterback Kyle Trask to the Heisman ceremony.

The Eagles return both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, so tight end certainly isn’t a top priority entering the draft. Philadelphia often used two tight ends under Pederson and with Ertz soon to be out of Philadelphia, the Eagles could use another top-end talent at the position. Pitts is unlikely to fall to 12 following the trade with the Dolphins but the Eagles could be in a position to draft the talented tight end amongst a quarterback frenzy.