Eagles coaches need to keep young receiving corps firing on all cylinders

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 19: Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVonta Smith (6) runs a route in the first half during the game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles on August 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Training Camp has turned into quite the stage for a young Eagles receiving corps this Summer, but one has to wonder if they’ll be able to carry that momentum into the regular season.

As far as a starting trio goes, it doesn’t get much younger than what we’re seeing right now.

The Eagles drafted DeVonta Smith in the first round with the 10th overall pick and the effect that he has already had on this franchise is sizable. A strong preseason debut only further amplified what we already knew about Smith – that he’s a menacing route-runner who is going to cause problems for years to come.

Last year’s first-round pick, Jalen Reagor, struggled with all of the attention that negative Eagles fans were giving him. The comparison to Justin Jefferson had haunted him all of last season. The TCU product didn’t really do anything to shut anyone up either and with a combusting offense, the wheels slowly fell off the wagon.

He was in need of a big camp but things didn’t start off great. Reagor showed up overweight and in the middle of dealing with the loss of someone close to him. After a bumpy start and having his ear chewed out by Nick Sirianni, he started to make gigantic strides and hauled in some highlight catches in the process.

Quez Watkins was an afterthought last season. The former 6th round pick had to take a backseat due to an injury he sustained during training camp. It was a tough uphill battle for the young wideout, who returned later in the year under bumpy circumstances. He struggled against press coverage and although he flashed game-breaking speed against the Cardinals, was unable to prove himself as a reliable threat on the outside due to his weakness in getting off the line.

Eagles fans need only look back to the Nelson Agholor era to see just how much of a role the mental side of things can play in the development of a young receiver. It’s no coincidence that after such a tumultuous end to the Doug Pederson era, the front office searched for coaches with a track record of strong wide receiver growth.

In what is one of the youngest positional groups in the NFL, the Eagles have found everything they were looking for early on. Nick Sirianni’s history of being able to squeeze every last drop out of his receivers has blended perfectly with the coaching ability of Aaron Moorehead, who was one of only two retained by the team during the offseason purge.

Confidence can take you places that you’ve never been before but it means nothing if you can’t sustain it. Jalen Reagor struggled with his confidence at times which led to a poor rookie season. We have yet to see a sample size large enough from Quez Watkins to see if he’ll battle the same struggles that many young players do.

The team has been lacking consistency at the wide receiver position since 2018. They’ve been plagued by the issues of drops, lack of confidence, and lack of talent. This group can put those demons to rest by having a good season as a collective unit. It’s going to take all hands on deck for them to put together a successful campaign, and it’s down to the coaching staff to keep their young talents motivated, confident, and excited as the year progresses.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire