We all know the Eagles biggest need is a middle linebacker. But lets say the Eagles are able to sign Stephen Tulloch or D’Qwell Jackson in free agency, filling that need. A logical next need to address would be wide receiver. Despite his TD last week I think we agree there’s still a good chance DeSean Jackson is gone. I like Avant’s work on third down as much as anyone but he doesn’t exactly scare defenses with his speed or size. And even if DeSean does come back the Eagles lack of size at receiver has been an Achilles heel in the Red Zone all season. That brings us to one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft: Alshon Jeffery.
Jeffery is probably the most polarizing prospect in the draft (right up there with Vontaze Burflict). I’ve seen him projected as high as eighth and as low as twenty-sixth. Lets start with the good: He’s 6-5, 230 pounds and runs a 4.5. Not elite speed but certainly good for his size. He has some of the best hands in the draft. He only dropped one pass his entire sophomore season. He also has a huge vertical leap, which combined with his size and hands give him a huge advantage in jump ball situations. He hasn’t shown any signs of character issues and people at South Carolina say he’s one of the hardest workers on the team.
Weaknesses: He hasn’t been asked to run a wide array of routes. Basically they throw screens to him or he runs downfield routes (corner, post, or streak). Although he is fast he’s more of a long strider, and isn’t the quickest in and out of his breaks. Some worry about his ability to gain separation in the pros…As a sophomore he had 88 catches for 1500 yards and 9 TDs. This year as a junior he sits at 45-614-7. That includes seven games of less than 40 yards of receiving. Such up and down production on a college level is troubling and makes you worry about his ability to be consistently productive in the pros.
Bottom Line (my opinion): If the Eagles can take care of MLB in free agency, I would love for the Eagles to grab this guy in the 12-15 range. Part of his inconsistency can be chalked up to facing NFL caliber corners without such talent throwing to him. He had his big year as a sophomore with Stephen Garcia throwing him the ball. With Garcia often injured this year he hasn’t been able to get in rhythm with him or Connor Shaw. He’s also a guy who shows up in big games against top competition. One of his best games this year was at Georgia. Where he had 85 yards and a TD in a 45-42 win. Last year in an upset of Alabama he had 7-127-2. Youtube that game and watch him repeatedly roast Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick, the #1 Strong Safety and #2 Corner in this draft.
I understand the questions about this guy, but I think at the very least he makes the Eagles a better red zone team the minute he steps on the field. All he needs is a fade and a fake fade slant and he can do for the Eagles what Jimmy Graham does for the Saints. I also put a lot of stock in his work ethic. When a guy is a boom-bust prospect, I think being a hard worker tips the scales.
Alshon Jeffery vs. Alabama (2010) (via RJalldaylong)