The Philadelphia Eagles have an important decision to make as they try to bolster their wide receiver group this off-season. Could the answer come in free agency, or will it be the 2020 NFL Draft? What about both?
Either way, it’s good to find out as much as we can about the potential targets for the Eagles. That’s where the Pro Football Focus 2020 Draft Guide comes into play. It features a good mix of player analysis gleaned from film along with a great deal of analytics to provide a full picture of a player’s game.
With that in mind, what follows are some of the major takeaways I had about the wide receiver class after reading through it all. All quotes come from Mike Renner, PFF’s lead draft analyst and friend of the BGN podcast feed...
DROPSIES: KJ Hamler, Penn State
For a team that suffered the highest frequency of deep ball drops like the Eagles, the proposition of adding Hamler to that mix is a risky one. Hamler let 12 catchable balls hit the deck in 2019 for a drop rate of 16.9% (t-321). Pair that with a below average contested catch rate of 36.4% and you can see why I’d be hesitant on adding the dangerous but inconsistent Penn State product.
SURE-HANDED: Henry Ruggs III, Alabama
The opposite of Hamler, the man with the 10 1/8” paws is as sure-handed as they come. In his three-year stint at Alabama, Ruggs dropped only five total passes and finished off 2019 with only one drop and a 2.4% drop rate. Ruggs was his most efficient in the intermediate area of the field, hauling in 14 of 18 passes for 2 touchdowns for a passer rating when targeted of 155.8 (4th).
YAKETY YAC: Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Aiyuk was 8th in the country for screen yards (241) and was targeted as such due to his tremendous ability after the catch. His 10.9 YAC average was also 8th in the country, which incentivized the Sun Devils to get the ball into Aiyuk’s hands with room to operate.
“Aiyuk is one of the most explosive wideouts in an incredibly deep class. That explosiveness has already translated to his route-running and after the catch ability at Arizona State. You need a big-play threat, Aiyuk is your man.”
SHALLOW WATERS: Quartney Davis, Texas A&M
Davis is plenty fluid and quick on film, which served him well as a slot receiver, but what about the deep game?
“Of his 99 catches in his career, only six came 20-plus yards downfield. One of the reasons may be that he struggled to get off press coverage and as such played in the slot a ton.”
In 2019, Davis only caught one “deep” pass for 29 yards. This raises a similar question to one we had with OSU WR Parris Campbell, who only caught two deep passes for 53 yards in 2018. Is the player to blame or is it all on the scheme and what they were asked to do?
STAND-OUT SLOT: Devin Duvernay, Texas
With Nelson Agholor gone, the Eagles have plenty of slot reps on the table. Duvernay experience a boom in production when he went from outside to inside in 2019. His 104 receptions and 1,387 yards from the slot both rank 2nd in the country. The only player with more slot receptions and yards was LSU’s Justin Jefferson.
Senior Bowl invite Devin Duvernay (Texas WR, 5'11", 210) looks like a primo slot option for the Eagles.— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) November 22, 2019
87-1,017-7 this year. Speed/strength w/YAC & route running skills. Through one game so far & it looks promising (graphics via @KlipDraw) pic.twitter.com/KJTLNpOHg2
Unlike the aforementioned Quartney Davis, working primarily from the slot didn’t hurt Duvernay’s deep ball production. He hauled in 12 deep receptions (t-21st) for 432 yards (t-28th), in part thanks to a 60% contested catch rate.
SHAKE IT OFF: Jauan Jennings, Tennessee
Coming in at 6’3 1/8”, 215 pounds, the talented Jennings was a nightmare to bring down with the ball in his hands. Jennings led the nation for broken tackles among wide receivers, shaking loose of an absurd 30 attempts. That’s four more than second place, with Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb shaking 26 folk in 2019. Jennings’ Combine interviews will be important to his stock, as there are concerns about his maturity.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Jalen Reagor
If you’re hesitant on Reagor due to a serious step back in production from his sophomore to junior year, don’t be. Reagor was essentially the same, dangerous threat, but the dudes responsible for getting him the rock were abysmal.
“According to PFF’s advanced ball location charting, only 30.7% of Reagor’s targets in 2019 were charted as accurate. Only three other FBS receivers had it worse this past season.”
GETTING RIGHT: Denzel Mims, Baylor
After a 2017 campaign of 61-1,087-8, Mims took a step back in 2018, totaling a less appealing 55-794-8 stat line. That’s not too shabby, but the big concern were his hands due to his 11 drops of 66 catchable balls. Returning to school after the disappointing season, Mims’ 2019 campaign went much better (66-1,015-12). He also dropped his drop rate nearly in half followed by turning heads as the big winner during Senior Bowl practices.
The sky is the limit for Mims, whose comparison to Braylon Edwards is apt for both the right and wrong reasons.