Hey all, I've been an avid BGN reader for a few years now, but decided to possibly start becoming a BGN writer recently. Love the intelligence of (almost) all of the posters here, and really wanted to get into it a little more.
And so, without further ado, let's get into it.
Almost immediately after the draft buzz started picking up, I've been reading articles about how the Eagles could very well upgrade their receiving corps, preferably by adding a larger, go-up-and-get-it type receiver. While I certainly don't disagree with this idea, I wanted to propose an alternate strategy: the slot receiver.
My reasoning is as follows:
It fits into our current receiving corps
One big argument I constantly hear about Desean Jackson is the actual value of his speed. While it may not translate into catches, the common thought process is that the mere threat of him takes the top off the defense, drawing safeties when he goes deep. This act is valuable in that it opens up the areas of the field underneath for run plays and WR crossing routes. Although not as fast as his counterpart, Jeremy Maclin is also able to beat his man on the outside, even further stretching the defense thin if need be. While I admit that I don't know how an effective slot receiver will help in the RZ, 3rd down conversions would go up tremendously if the defense has to worry about Lesean McCoy AND underneath routes while unable to load the box.
And so, in theory, the slot receiver should be particularly effective given the skill set of our outside receivers. To show what I mean, let's look at the Steelers. The Steelers, of course, have one of the only comparably fast WRs in the game to Desean in Mike Wallace. While I have heard that he is similarly limited in his WR abilities as his counterpart, there is no question that Mike Wallace can draw safeties with his speed. Since Wallace entered the league in '09, Hines Ward has been put in the slot role. His first (and only) year as the primary slot receiver playing alongside Wallace, Ward posted 1,167 yards receiving, his highest receiving total in 7 years and his second highest total overall. Since then, Antonio Brown has taken snaps from Ward, as he is occasionally lined up in the slot as well, but has seen similar success in underneath routes.
It coincides with the evolution of the NFL
Everyone has heard it: the NFL is a passing league. Higher QB numbers, higher WR numbers, etc etc. Most importantly (to this article at least) is the emergence of 3 WR sets. Slot receivers are no longer 3rd down receivers. They are bona fide every down athletes. Last year, Wes Welker and, though it pains me to say it, Victor Cruz were the #2 and #3 WR in terms of receiving yards, with 1,569 and 1,536, respectively. Welker, by the way, enjoyed his breakout season the same year that Randy Moss entered the Patriots' offense.
Jason Avant can be upgraded
Like every other poster calling for an upgrade from Mr. Avant, I will start with a disclaimer. I love Jason Avant. Great guy, great hands, great leader. But while he does reasonably well (very well some can even argue) against #3 CBs, he has shown that his success is due in large part to who he is lining up with. When moved to the outside, or when Desean sleeps through an alarm, he struggles. Yes, he has been getting better each season. But he is 29, and will likely never be able to take over a game. Drafting an athletic, every down player who can manhandle #3 CBs might be something to look into.
Generalizing my ramblings to the draft
Before I begin, I'd like to say that I am not a draft person. I am thoroughly impressed, however, by the draft knowledge people wield at BGN. In fact, I readily admit to going by the mantra "In Tommy I trust." Recently, Mr. Lawlor posted about some interesting prospects being associated with the Eagles. The ones that stuck out to me were Devon Wylie, TY Hilton, and Joe Adams. All three are effective, athletic slot guys. Mr. Lawlor seems to value them for their KR/PR abilities, and therefore I would be a fool to overlook this aspect of their games. However, I also am of the notion that the Eagles might be killing two birds with one stone, and therefore are even more likely than is being reported to draft one of these receivers. I would not be surprised at all to see one of these receivers wearing Midnight Green next year.
I will vouch for my reasoning on the article. I will not vouch for my draft thoughts. I wanted to tie my thoughts into something real, but really reached at the end. Feel free to leave suggestions on draft, suggestions on writing, or suggestions on becoming part of BGN.