Philadelphia Eagles

What does the Eagles WR depth chart look like after the NFL Draft?

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The Philadelphia Eagles came away from the NFL Draft with a new face in their receivers room. That man is Heisman winner DeVonta Smith and his presence alone should be enough to boost confidence in a position that previously had little to be excited about. But how does his arrival impact the depth chart?

A new-look offense for the Eagles

The first thing to note is that the Eagles offense is going to go under quite the makeover this offseason. Nick Sirianni is keen to bend his principles around the strengths of his playmakers, something that was almost alien in the Doug Pederson era. As a result, we’ll probably see receivers line up all across the field as opposed to being locked into one spot specifically.

However, we can still paint a very basic picture ahead of OTA’s to examine which receivers will be going head-to-head and who might be on the bubble.

How many receivers will the Eagles keep?

Traditionally, the Eagles don’t keep a bucket full of wide receivers. They kept 7 on the roster in 2020, 5 in 2019, and 6 in 2018.

The Colts, who Nick Sirianni coordinated the offense for before flying to Philadelphia, follow a similar pattern and kept 6 in 2020 and 2019, and 5 in 2018.

Philadelphia has eight receivers of note at the moment (prior to confirmed UDFA signings, rookie minicamp etc).

X receiver

DeVonta Smith
Travis Fulgham
Trevon Grimes
J.J Arcega-Whiteside

Traditionally, the Eagles want big bodies to play the X-spot and while Nick Sirianni may be open to shake things up, we can expect an intent to emphasize physicality, crisp route-running, and a huge catch radius that is deeply valuable when inside the red zone.

One of these men is not like the others, but we can automatically assume that Smith will be the team’s devout WR1 wherever he lines up. That leaves a battle between a fallen second-round pick, a hero who lost his sparkle, and a UDFA steal who embodies everything Sirianni everything wants.

It’s likely the Eagles only keep two wideouts from this group and seek to stash a third on the practice squad. This would enable them to keep 2 receivers in each ‘role’.

Trevon Grimes has a real chance to throw the Cat among the Pigeons here and displace both Fulgham and JJAW. The UDFA out of Florida put up 589 yards last year despite working in an offense that featured both Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney, who were both first-round picks. He checks every box, is the youngest of the trio, and as a result may have the highest upside for the WR whisperer to work with.

Y receiver

Greg Ward Jr.
Quez Watkins

Greg Ward Jr. Signed a one-year deal as an ERFA but the Eagles might look to slowly try and work Quez Watkins into the slot. He has tonnes of speed but his route-running isn’t exactly smooth. It makes sense for Watkins to kick inside full-time where he will see less competition for a roster spot.

Z receiver

Jalen Reagor
John Hightower

Jalen Reagor should be the starting Z-receiver and that isn’t really a conversation. John Hightower struggled as a rookie and is very much on the bubble. However, he ended 2020 with 167 yards on 10 receptions and actually led the NFL in ‘Average depth of target’ (22 yards), showing that the Eagles clearly view him as a burner.

If Jalen Reagor does struggle to take the next step in his development, keeping Hightower around as someone that makes his pay dirt on 9 routes by creating early separation with nifty footwork, could pay dividends.

Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

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1 comment

  • Dave says:

    The Eagles have a lot of decisions to make. One of the UDFA’s they signed is Jhamon Ausbon who though he opted out in 2020, in 2019, he started all 13 games and caught 66 passes for 872 yards and 5 touchdowns. That good production. At 6’2 and 215, he is pretty much the same size as Fulgham, so whether Fulgham was a flash in the pan, or if his production fell off because the Eagles were so concerned with working Jeffrey back into the lineup that it hindered his development; either way, as they say, that kind of yardage ain’t chicken feed. The Eagles are in a complete rebuild. They have all their receivers except Ward on cheap rookie deals, so they have a few years to get these guys up to speed before having to renegotiate contracts. The OL is solid if they stay healthy. I’m very surprised that Dillard wasn’t traded unless they kept him until they see for real that Lane is good to go at RT. In any case, a guy like Jack Driscoll will be available for that spot and played pretty well in limited action. All of last years rookies including Herbig, now have the opportunity to make that 2nd year jump. You can start to see a pattern when it comes to the line. Herbig, Driscoll, Dickerson, Mailata and even Seomaulo can play multiple positions. Dillard better get his act together. You can’t have a 1st round pick riding the bench. You need to trade him to a team that needs a LT. The colts didn’t draft a tackle until the 7th round. With Castanzo retiring, the colts still need a starting LT. Trade Dillard for whatever you can get and roll with Mailata while Dillard still has some value, though they are probably waiting for camp to show he is healthy, so they can increase whatever value he has.

    As far as the receivers go, Ward reminds me a lot of Jason Avant. Not flashy, but solid and always seems to be in the right spot. There’s a lot to be said for that. It will be interesting to see how Sirianni runs the offense. I see it a lot like the Chiefs offense, in that they will have multiple receivers and a lot of screens and passes to the RB’s, especially after drafting Gainwell. With Hurt’s ability to take off, the D always has to be concerned with that. I see a lot of Hurts faking the run then dumping it off to any one of multiple receivers. I believe it will be a varied offense, nothing like last year and Dougie’s stale play calling. Having smith, at least causes the D to now seriously have to cover somebody on every play. The opens the field for the rest of the receivers. I think there will be a lot of YAC in this offense. You have guys with a lot of speed, and I think that’s how they will be utilized. Therre will still be more guys signed as UDFA’s, so you just never know who will come along and impress at camp.

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