Mel Kiper to Eagles: Like Justin Fields or Look Elsewhere

Mel Kiper Jr. believes the Ohio State QB would be a good pick vs WR at No. 6, depending on what sort of grade they have on Fields
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PHILADELPHIA - Sometimes the best advice is the simplest.

ESPN's long-time NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. offered up the obvious when it came to the Eagles at No. 6 overall on his pre-draft conference call with the media Monday: if you like the quarterback take him.

Kiper was a bit more targeted, however, pointing at Ohio State's Justin Fields and not any of the other QB options who might be available at that spot like North Dakota State's Trey Lance or fast-rising Alabama star Mac Jones.

Neither Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, who is expected to go No. 1 overall to Jacksonville, or BYU's Zach Wilson are regarded as realistic options for Howie Roseman and Andy Weidl.

“It depends on the grade you have on Fields,” said Kiper. “Everybody’s all over the place on Fields, and that’s a hard one to lock in on."

For what it's worth, Kiper said he has Fields as his second-best QB prospect in the draft, ahead of Wilson.

"If they love Fields and they have him graded right behind Trevor Lawrence as the second-best quarterback in this draft, then you take him," said Kiper. "If you don’t, then you probably go for the wide receiver and help out Jalen Hurts.”

The Eagles have needs peppered throughout their roster and one of the strengths at the top of the 2021 draft class is at receiver with three potential top-10 options: LSU's Ja'Marr Chase and the Alabama duo of Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. 

Even Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is considered an offensive weapon who could move out seamlessly to flex receiver.

“I’ve always said if it’s a sideways move from Hurts to Fields or Hurts to Lance, then you would take the receiver and you stick with Hurts and see how he develops," Kiper said. "Get him some help rather than going sideways which doesn’t get you a receiver."

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It's at least a little surprising that Kiper would talk about Hurts, who was the 53rd overall pick in the 2020 draft, in a similar vein to potential top-10 players but an inexact science is exactly that and drafting players is always about evaluation for any team.

"Comparing (Fields) now, you’d have to compare him to Jalen playing, that’s what you have to go by, which is tough to do," said Kiper. "(Hurts) showed signs that he could be a successful starting quarterback in this league. Now, you’re talking about completion percentage. There were some struggles at times there, but he won some games (only one), he elevated that team and gave them some energy. 

"So, for me, that’s what you have to decide: How does Justin Fields (figure in)? Do you love Justin Fields? If you love him, you take him. You let him compete and you get an upgrade over Hurts. If you don’t (love him), then Hurts is the guy, and you’re happy about that."

The Eagles, at least the personnel department, got a four-plus game headstart on evaluating Hurts and his ceiling as a starting QB in the NFL after he was inserted for the benched Carson Wentz during his rookie season. Complicating matters somewhat is a new coaching staff who wasn't here to see what Hurts offered up close.

New head coach Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen both have a history with coaching the QB position and position coach Brian Johnson has a relationship with Hurts dating back to Hurts' childhood.

Johnson played for Hurts' father in high school and also recruited the former Alabama and Oklahoma star twice when he tried to get Hurts to Mississippi State at the outset of his college career and then to Florida as a grad transfer.

What is known to date is that Hurts is a very hard worker and natural team leader, who has already been doing everything possible to take advantage of his opportunity to be the Eagles' 2021 starter.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, and every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.