The Philadelphia Eagles made a minor signing in NFL free agency by adding Chris Givens to the roster. Though Givens might not be a superstar, he can provide some value to the Eagles' offense. The 26-year-old pass catcher has the kind of speed the Eagles have been lacking in their wide receiver corps. As an added bonus, Givens has had a nice chemistry with Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford in the past. In order to get more information on Givens, we reached out to the great Joe McAtee (@3k_) of Turf Show Times. Check out our question and answer exchange below.
"Givens might have been one of the biggest enigmas going into 2015, and the team just wasn't built to figure him out last year. He exploded as a rookie with a five-game streak of catching a 50+-yard reception in 2012 establishing what everyone thought would be the Rams' downfield threat of the future. It never materialized. He hit a wall with increased scrutiny in his second year, though losing QB Sam Bradford who he clearly had a rapport with mid-season with an ACL injury didn't help. In 2014, he was an afterthought in a Tavon Austin and Tre Mason-fueled offense as the Rams scrambled to put things together with Bradford out for the entire year with the second ACL tear. So going into his contract year in 2015, he wasn't even a lock to make the 53-man roster for Week 1. The Rams would finish with the league's worst offense in 2015 per yardage, so Givens was both (a) a weapon the Rams could've used but also (b) one who would've gone underutilized. In other words, the Rams' passing game sucked so bad, even though Givens would've helped, it would've held him back as well."
2) What are his strengths?
"Downfield speed and fluidity in his routes at the top of the tree, mainly. He's not big and he's not physical, so he struggles to win underneath. And he's not terribly quick, so he struggles in zone. Those limitations are what made him a fourth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Still, he averaged more than 18 yards per catch with the Ravens who were in better position to take advantage of his skills. He's a limited guy, but what he does he does well."
3) What are his weaknesses?
"It's definitely the lack of physicality. He's just 6' tall and not very powerfully built at that. So with heavy press coverage that forces WRs to win at the line and then body off a window for space, Givens might be better suited on the bench or as a decoy. The real key is finding a way to get him into three- or four-WR sets to let him run free either on posts or go routes. He can force cover safeties and man corners to stick with him and open space underneath, whether the pass goes to him or not."
4) Givens had a promising rookie season in 2012 but never built on it from there. What happened?
"I think it's just a matter of skill limitations. He only had so much to grow because there are just too many things he can't do. And to be fair, he doesn't really need to. He's not an all-around guy, and you don't need to try to make him into one. So with the Rams' offensive line struggles and caliber of QB play after Sam Bradford played his last regular season down as a Ram in 2013, Givens' ceiling just wasn't very high. It's less an indicative of something regarding Givens and more about the Rams' poor offense in general."
5) There’s been a lot of talk about how Sam Bradford had good chemistry with Givens. Are you confident that he’ll be able to be productive in Philadelphia?
"Well, I wouldn't say "confident," and it depends on what you mean by "productive"...but look. He was a capable deep threat for Sam with the Rams and he added a dimension with the Ravens. I wouldn't exactly go in with the highest of expectations, but I'd be confident that he would make yall's 53-man roster and provide that deep ball dimension when called upon. How often you guys do that and how well...well, I think the Rams proved it may not even be up to Givens if the surroundings aren't clicking."