So I think it's pretty safe to say the Philadelphia Eagles are going to sign a wide receiver in free agency. With that in mind, the past week I've been watching the All-22 on a number of the top wide receivers expected to hit free agency. I'll get a proper film room post on whoever the Eagles sign, but for now I thought I'd share my notes on each player I watched. I haven't watched everyone obviously but I would be disappointed if the Eagles didn't sign at least one of these players. I look at each players strengths and weaknesses here and base it around their fit in the Eagles scheme.
Strengths: His jump-ball ability is freakish, he dominates at the catch point. He's 'always open' when being single covered. Excellent body control combined with his long arms gives him a massive catch radius. One of the best I've ever seen in contested situations. He separates using his size and body position at the line of scrimmage. He's a true outside X receiver, teams will commit double coverage to him at times. Really good at running the deep to intermediate routes such as the comeback and post routes as cornerbacks are concerned about his big play ability and he uses his size really well to box them out.
Weaknesses: Doesn't always separate as well as you would like. A long strider and takes him a little bit of time to hit full speed. Won't run the underneath routes like the drag and contribute a lot of YAC for you. Off-field issues obvious, 1 mistake away from a suspension, has had injury issues in the past.
Strengths: Quicker that I expected despite being really big and physical. True outside X receiver. Extremely good at getting off press coverage, uses both his frame and quick feet to do so. Excellent at running crossing routes, uses his size well. Also very good at running comebacks, very physical at the top of his route with his hands which helps him create separation. Really good at double moves, understands the nuances of route running. Can get deep and create big plays due to route running but isn't a true downfield threat. 7 receptions on 12 targets for 5 TDs in the Red Zone last year. Had number 1 cornerbacks travel with him at times last year, Richard Sherman did so and Britt beat him a few times.
Weaknesses: Won't get a lot of YAC. Doesn't have that extra gear on deep throws to be a burner. Top cornerbacks shadowing him could be because other wide receivers were awful, he didn't command double coverage or force the safety's to move back. Had previous injury issues and work ethic concerns. Had some concentration drops last year. Only ever had 1 very good year. Limited route tree last year due to being in a terrible offense.
Strengths: Very good at finding space against zone coverage. Really quick feet, can run in and out breaking routes extremely well. Seems to have a good release at the line of scrimmage but wasn't pressed much. Big play ability is clearly there, can track the downfield and can score from anywhere on the field as showed last year with 9 TDs. Decent hands but a bit of a body catcher and had a poor catch rate last year although that wasn't all down to him.
Weaknesses: A lot of his receptions came in a bunch formation where he was used to avoid press. Clearly not an X receiver, was Dolphins number 3 receiver and ran the majority of his routes from the slot. Not as physical at the line of scrimmage or at the stem of his routes as he needs to be. Didn't see him against press coverage enough. Not a good catch radius and not great at the catch point, won't go up and get it. A few of his TDs seemed down to the play getting him open rather than him just lining up and burning his guy in single coverage. 9 TDs appears a little flukey. Didn't have a great deal of YAC last year. If signed to be an outside receiver, I worry he'll struggle against good physical cornerbacks.
Strengths: Not going to talk about this guy too much as you all know him well. Stil as explosive as it gets in this league. Super quick feet, great on go routes as well as post, post-corner and underneath routes. Not a one trick pony and never has been. Good hands, ball tracking as good as it gets. Not a number 1 receiver but about as dangerous of a number 2 as you can get. YAC ability obvious, get him in space and goodnight. Can really stretch the field.
Weaknesses: Inconsistency always an issue although slightly overstated in my opinion as all deep threats are to an extent. His game is dependent on speed and he's 30 years old. How many years does he have left where he's the fastest guy on the field?
Strengths: Really physical at the top of the route which helps him get open. He's an excellent route runner, extremely good at getting in and out his breaks, saw some lovely comebacks, in and out routes. Used as the X receiver and can beat press coverage. Can still move, not a true deep threat but can threaten over the top still. Not explosive but can still get YAC due to his physicality. Very safe hands, if you want a 3rd down reliable target then this is your guy, will move the chains for you all game.
Weaknesses: Age is an issue, will be 31 by the start of the season. Quicker rather than explosive, benefitted from having DeSean Jackson and the other Redskins weapons alongside him. Was the X receiver but never doubled. Good hands but won't dominate in contested situations. Not a big Red Zone threat, only 3 TDs last year.
Strengths: Can get open when the QB is on the move (important with Tyrod Taylor to be able to do this). A pretty good route runner with quick feet and a shift to him which gets him open on out and in breaking routes. Move the chains type of guy, safe hands with a good catch rate. Saw him beat Patrick Peterson in a press position with a great release. Has made contested catches previously in his career but wasn't given the chance this year.
Weaknesses: Not explosive or really fast, slot receiver mainly last year but has shown he can play outside previously. Not a downfield weapon last year and created very few big plays. Limited routes run due to being in a very limited passing offense. Didn't get a lot of AC last year. Only had 1 TD and didn't win in the Red Zone.
Strengths: Good route runner who gets in and out of his breaks well, looks good on comebacks and slants. Can get off press coverage. Showed the ability to work back towards the quarterback. Quite physical and long with good body control. Move the chains type guy last year. Good hands, saw him make catches in traffic with his hands and not his body. Played as the X receiver and outside more in 2015 as Ravens number 1 receiver due to injuries and played really well. Even showed contested catch ability and had a vertical element to his game. Can play multiple receiver positions.
Weaknesses: Played almost exclusively in the slot last year due to the amount of weapons the Ravens had on the outside. Surely some of that must come down to his own play though? Very hard to tell if it was down to his poor play or the Ravens wanting to get players like Breshad Perriman more time. Not explosive this year in the slot. Wasn't good enough with his hands when trying to separate at the top of his route. No deep separation this year.
I wasn't going to watch these last two but a few people asked me if I could so yeah!
Strengths: Good size and speed combination, has the speed to get down the field. Can catch away from his body, played as the X receiver when Dez Byrant was out, can make contested catches. Decent at running deeper routes such as post and post corner routes.
Weaknesses: Isn't very good, which is a problem. Has a bad feel for finding space in zone coverage. Bad in and out of his breaks on shorter routes, not sudden at all. Not great at beating press coverage, doesn't know how to set up cornerbacks. Targeted on deep routes and nothing else over the second half of last season. Takes forever to get up to speed, very long strider. No YAC ability, questionable hands. 27 years old and has played in the NFL for 5 years, why will he get better?
Strengths: Runs some good deep routes like the post route well. Can go up and get the ball at times. Can go across the middle and catch in traffic. Tall and lean with decent speed. Showed the ability to beat press at times via his size and quick feet.
Weaknesses: Serious body catcher, even Jordan Matthews would cringe watching some of his catches. I watched Leodis McKelvin cover him on a go route which is never a good sign. Was a starting WR for 16 games last year and had 594 yards. Not sudden in his movements, doesn't give you much on slants and YAC.
If you have any questions on any of these guys, please feel free to ask any questions. Also, if you want to here even more on these guys, I recorded a podcast discussing all of them a little more in-depth and you can check that out here or on iTunes here!