Now that Jordan Matthews is gone, there’s a good chance Nelson Agholor will be the only Eagles wide receiver returning from the 2016 regular season.
Think about that. Agholor, arguably the worst receiver out of Philadelphia’s dreadful receiving corps last year, is a lock to stick around.
But who else will make the team now that JMatt has been traded? How will the Eagles’ receiver position shake out? There’s still time for jobs to be won/lost in training camp and preseason. In the meantime, NFL insider Adam Caplan is offering a sneak peak at the team’s projected receiver depth chart.
Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith are clearly No. 1 and No 2, respectively. Here’s what Caplan has heard about the rest of the receivers.
Marcus Johnson now #5 WR, #Hollins moves up to #4, Agholor #3.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 11, 2017
#Eagles really like UDFA slot WR Greg Ward. If they keep 6 WRs, he would be last guy.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 11, 2017
Here’s a breakdown of each receiver.
Jeffery hasn’t been a full participant in practice since the first week of Eagles training camp. He’s currently doing some limited work each day. Philadelphia is taking a cautious approach because they need him for the real games. He’s looked great in practice when he has participated.
Smith has had a good offseason. He’s still capable of beating defenders deep. His hands have been pretty reliable for the most part. Smith’s ability to get open when Carson Wentz scrambles and coverage breaks down is a nice skill to add to this offense.
Agholor has looked good in practice. He’s not dropping the ball as often as he used to. He generally seems to be playing with more confidence. His route-running has looked sharp. He’s also shown the ability to burn cornerbacks deep down the field. The next step is for Agholor to prove he can actually show up in the games. Kind of a big step for him. The Eagles are clearly putting a lot of faith in Agholor’s ability to play the slot by trading Matthews.
Mack Daddy had an awesome touchdown catch and run the other night in the first preseason game. The team’s fourth-round rookie has an intriguing combination of size and speed. His big-play ability is exciting. Hollins has been getting some first team reps at receiver with Jeffery not practicing in 11 on 11. Hollins also figures to be a key special teams contributor.
Johnson has been dealing with a hamstring issue recently but he recently returned to practice. Johnson was getting first team reps over Hollins when he wasn’t hurt. The team’s 2016 undrafted free agent signing has opened eyes this summer. Caplan has previously reported that the team is “really high on Johnson” and thinks he’s had a “very strong offseason.” Johnson has ability to work all levels of the passing game: short, intermediate, and deep. He’s made a number of plays in camp. Now he just needs to prove himself in game action.
Greg Ward Jr.
I was convinced Ward wasn’t even going to be in consideration to make the final roster back in spring practices. It’s not that the undrafted free agent rookie even looked bad. It’s just that the former quarterback seemed so slight to me. Ward has since added strength. He also looks surprisingly polished all of the sudden for a player who is newer to the receiver position. Caplan seems to indicate Ward is on the bubble for a sixth spot. The team could keep him around if they feel like he’s going to get poached on waivers if they cut him.
The rest of the receivers
The players not mentioned here include: Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson, Paul Turner, David Watford, Keevan Lucas, and Rashard Davis.
Treggs has had a nice offseason. I’d expect him to get picked up on waivers if the Eagles cut him. Philadelphia might not keep him if they feel he’s not much of a special teams contributor.
Gibson, the team’s fifth-round pick, has really struggled to catch the ball all offseason long. He’s had some encouraging moments in practice lately but he two bad drops in the first preseason game. I think he’s either going to get stashed on injured reserve with a phantom injury or put on the practice squad.
Turner was last year’s preseason darling but he’s been hurt for the majority of camp this year. Maybe he makes the practice squad, if anything.
Watford has quietly had a nice camp. Like Ward, he’s a former quarterback turned receiver. He’s played himself into practice squad consideration for the second year in a row.
Lucas and Davis recently joined the team. They’re long shots to stick around in any capacity. Davis was at least a really good punt returner in college so that’s something to keep an eye on.
The Eagles are certainly taking a risk by getting rid of Matthews and counting on their younger guys. It could be a risk worth taking, however, given how encouraging everyone has been in practice. I noted yesterday that the receivers have mostly looked good all offseason long. The Eagles have come a long way since last year when they had hope in the likes of Rueben Randle and Chris Givens.