The Eagles WR corps is going to look different in 2014. DeSean Jackson is gone. So is Jason Avant. There are no guarantees that Damaris Johnson will return. It is going to be very interesting to see how the team goes about rebuilding the receiving corps and what kinds of players they bring in.
Right now the WRs are:
You can argue that Darren Sproles should be included in this list. He will be lining up in the slot on a regular basis.
There is room for the Eagles to draft 1 or 2 WRs. Some will argue the team must go for one in the 1st round. I’m not on that bandwagon. I do think the Eagles need a WR early, but I think they can find good help in the 1st, 2nd or even 3rd round. This is a deep, talented class. There will be lots of choices.
If a WR is the best player at 22, they can go for him. If not, they don’t need to force the issue. The Eagles do have Cooper and Maclin coming back. The cupboard isn’t bare.
The thing I’m curious about is if Chip Kelly has a preference in his type of receiver. Will he go more for speed or size? DeSean was a smaller guy that thrived in Kelly’s offense, but you can’t ignore the fact that Cooper, Benn, Smith and the others are either average sized or flat out big guys.
While there is always an argument to be made for speed, size has plenty of benefits as well. Bigger guys tend to be better blockers. They don’t need separation to be open. Bigger receivers can out-muscle DBs for the ball. Big receivers can be more effective in the Red Zone as well.
Denver didn’t have an elite speedster this year. Nor Green Bay. The Saints haven’t had a consistent vertical threat in a couple of years. You don’t need speed to throw the ball. It helps, but isn’t necessary. You can move the ball if you have big guys with okay speed or if you have WRs with excellent quickness.
We’re still learning about Kelly and I’m interested to see what he does. The one thing Kelly mentioned recently is that he wants someone that can beat man coverage. To many, this means speed. But that isn’t the case. You can beat man coverage with route-running, quickness and/or size. The key is to find someone that can consistently win using one of these methods.
I think one of the key traits Kelly will focus on is RAC ability. You need players who can catch short passes and then make something happen. This is where quickness and elusiveness can be just as important as speed. A fast receiver can run by players. Someone who is quick and elusive can catch the ball in traffic and then make guys miss. That’s critical with the amount of quick screens the Eagles throw to WRs. You need players who can turn nothing into something.
In the coming days, I’ll be talking about different prospects the Eagles could have interest in. Some will be big. Some fast. Others will be somewhere in-between. We’ll find out Kelly’s thinking about a month from now when the Eagles make some draft picks.