Eagles WR’s may be young, but don’t write them off

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 is behind us, preseason has come to a close, and the 53-man roster has been finalized. After a long process, Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman have put together a roster they believe will put the team in the best position possible to contend for the NFC East crown. While a lot of its success will ride on Jalen Hurts, a very young receiving corps will also play a huge role.

There’s no getting around the fact that the Eagles have a very young positional group. In fact, if we assume that the starting trio will consist of DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins, the trio have accounted for 512 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on 38 receptions. Given that Reagor amassed 31 receptions for 396 yards by himself, and it’s easy to see just how inexperienced this group is.

Eagles offensive coordinator, Shane Steichen, met with reporters yesterday and discussed the WR position, citing how important this offseason was in their development.

Well, I think they improved so much during training camp, and I think we put them in a lot of game like atmospheres, practicing against the Patriots, practicing against the Jets and seeing what they were capable of during practice. Excited, looking forward to seeing them play against Atlanta coming up here soon.

Nick Sirianni has acquired a reputation of being somewhat of a WR whisperer throughout his NFL career. Dating all the way back to when he helped players like Dwayne Bowe and Tyrell Williams reach new heights, to being the wind beneath the wings of Keenan Allen in his 2017 breakout, Sirianni has an affinity for growing talent at the position.

He has worked with an eclectic array of receivers throughout his career, but the big thing to note is that the majority of success he’s been able to have has not come from developing first-round talent. Three receivers have enjoyed 1,000+ yard seasons and none of them were high-round draft picks.

When asked about the WR position following roster cuts, he mentioned something that may well be the reason there’s so much faith in this young and explosive group.

You know, look, everything we do is really by committee. I know you guys have asked me a couple times about a slot or an ‘X’ or a ‘Z,’ and I’m speaking obviously right now as a receiver group. We do things by committee, and I feel really comfortable and really confident in the guys that we have on this roster right now to be able to run the offense that we want to run.

Sirianni has been adamant that his offensive principals are based around molding his scheme to fit his players, which has obvious benefits as it enables his young prospects to do what they do best as opposed to forcing square pegs into round holes. However, it’s also going to take the pressure off of the players as individuals.

The team have enough diversity in the room in terms of playing styles to match up pretty well with the majority of NFL secondaries. Much like the principal of the Golden State Warriors from a few years back, it’s all about options. If Steph Curry can’t go, then Klay’s on the wing to provide a release valve. If the perimeter defense is good, then there’s a physical player in the middle such as Draymond Green or KD to take advantage.

The Indianapolis Colts had a very young receiving core last year and didn’t exactly fare too badly. Zach Pascal was in his third year and put up a career-high 629 yards, while rookie Michael Pittman amassed 503 on his own. Parris Campbell battled injuries in his second year, making 2021 that much more important, but was able to avoid the spotlight thanks to the strong seasons from the other two leading wideouts.

Having seen Jalen Reagor battle with the rigors of handling criticism and social media flack, knowing that there won’t be a heavy weight on his shoulders despite the youth of the position could be a huge catalyst in his play. We’ve already seen some huge strides during the Summer and the rise of Quez Watkins needs no introduction.

There’s only one direction this unit is primed to trend, and with Nick Sirianni continuing to squeeze every last drop of juice out of a fruit he’s made many beautiful smoothies out of, don’t be surprised to see some breakout years from a trio of hungry young wideouts.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire