The outlook of the Philadelphia Eagles’ receiving corps has seen some drastic swings in recent history.
Here’s a real BGN headline from August 1, 2019: “PFF says Philadelphia has the NFL’s best group of wide receivers.”
Indeed, that declaration looked pretty laughable by the end of last year as the Eagles arguably had the league’s worst group of receivers. Such shortcomings set the stage for the position being a major need ahead of this offseason.
The Eagles surprised some by eschewing receiver help of any kind in free agency. The team instead turned to the 2020 NFL Draft by selecting Jalen Reagor in the first round, John Hightower in the fifth round, and Quez Watkins in the sixth round. Howie Roseman also acquired Marquise Goodwin for the mere cost of a 20 spot drop late in the draft.
Now that the Eagles are (likely) done remaking the position, how does it stack up? PFF recently ranked all 32 NFL receiving corps again and the Eagles finished towards the middle of the pack.
14. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles’ receiving corps is one of the more interesting ones in the league heading into next season. No one really knows what to expect from Alshon Jeffery after a year in which he struggled with injuries, nor do they know what Desean Jackson has left, given that he has battled injuries over the last couple of seasons but remains electric when on the field. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside needs to show considerable improvement over the non-existent display he put together as a rookie, notching well under one receiving yard per route run on the year. There is talent in that group, though, along with first-round selection Jalen Reagor and their two tight ends, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Health will be the key to not repeating the disappointment of last season.
As PFF notes, there’s really just a lot of uncertainty with this group, specifically at wide receiver.
It’s possible some combination of the following happens:
- The Eagles keep Jeffery, he gets healthy, and he’s a good contributor.
- Jackson stays healthy and maintains the great connection he had with Carson Wentz last offseason and in Week 1.
- JJAW takes a significant step forward in Year 2.
- Reagor proves to be a difference maker from the jump.
- Goodwin serves as another explosive, big play threat.
- Hightower and/or Watkins are ready to see offensive snaps right away.
- Greg Ward becomes a really sturdy option in the slot.
If a few of those things happen, the Eagles could be in solid shape at receiver.
There’s also considerable downside to account for, however. These outcomes are also possible:
- Jeffery is traded or released before the season. Or he starts out on PUP and fails to help as he comes off a serious Lisfranc injury.
- Jackson, who has missed 5.2 games per season over the last five years, continues to be unavailable. It becomes apparent he’s not the same deep threat given last year’s core muscle injury and further aging.
- JJAW confirms the suspicions that he’s a bust.
- Reagor struggles to immediately contribute following an offseason with limited practice reps.
- Goodwin is injured and ineffective and it’s clear why the Eagles got him at such a cheap price.
- Hightower and/or Watkins fail to make the team or meaningfully contribute at all.
- It doesn’t feel so surprising that Ward has spent most of his career on the practice squad and only averaged 9.1 yards per reception in 2019.
Since PFF is ranking overall receiving corps, the unit gets a boost when accounting for the pass catching prowess of Ertz, Goedert, and Miles Sanders. We can reasonably expect those guys to be pretty good in 2020.
But it’s hard to know what exactly to make out of the actual wide receiver position. The feeling here is that Jackson can still be valuable when healthy. Reagor’s potential is exciting. There’s a scenario where the Eagles are terrorizing defenses with their deep speed. There’s also one where Wentz fails to get adequate support once agian.
PFF ranked the Eagles’ receiving corps as the 14th best unit in the league. Is that ...
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Elsewhere in the NFC East:
- The Dallas Cowboys ranked third. It’s going to be tough to cover the trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup.
- The New York Giants ranked 21st. Darius Slayton, who caused problems for the Eagles last year, provides room for optimism.
- Washington ranked 32nd despite the fact Terry McLaurin is coming off a great rookie season. PFF clearly doesn’t like the options outside of him.