What traits does Howie Roseman look for in a wide receiver?

Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 03: Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Devonta Smith (6) sets up for a play in the first half during the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles on October 03, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

When you think of Howie Roseman and cones, you may immediately think about the dunce cap that he wears when it comes to drafting wide receivers not named DeVonta Smith.

So what’s Howie’s deal? What does he look for in a wide receiver? Do the the successful wide receivers have something in common? Let’s look at his draft history at the position:

Player
Riley Cooper – 2010
Marvin McNutt – 2012
Josh Huff – 2014
Jordan Matthews – 2014
Nelson Agholor* – 2015
Shelton Gibson – 2017
Mack Hollins – 2017
JJ Arcega-Whiteside – 2019
Quez Watkins – 2020
John Hightower – 2020
Jalen Reagor – 2020
DeVonta Smith – 2021

*Chip Kelly pick

8 of those 12 players played in a game in 2021. Cooper was out by 2015, McNutt by 2013, Huff by 2016, and Gibson by 2018. 

However, just because the other eight have played in 2021, doesn’t make them entirely successful.

You could argue that only Jordan Matthews and DeVonta Smith (remember, Agholor is a Chip pick) are the only success stories out of the dozen. So.. how do they differ from the pack?

Combine & RAS

Here are the combine numbers for all 12:

Player RAS 40 time 10 yard split 20 yard split Shuttle 3 cone
Riley Cooper 7.75 4.56 1.6 2.64 4.15 6.73
Marvin McNutt 7.75 4.54 1.61 2.68 4.07 7.15
Josh Huff 6.61 4.51 1.58 2.62 4.12 6.96
Jordan Matthews 9.38 4.46 1.55 2.61 4.18 6.95
Nelson Agholor* 7.38 4.42 1.59 2.59 4.34 6.83
Shelton Gibson 3.98 4.5 1.61 2.63 4.2 6.83
Mack Hollins N/A 4.53 1.53 2.64 N/A N/A
JJ Arcega-Whiteside 6.16 4.5 1.58 2.64 4.41 7.23
Quez Watkins 7.41 4.35 1.52 2.55 4.36 7.28
John Hightower 8.01 4.43 1.54 2.67 4.21 7.07
Jalen Reagor 6.05 4.47 1.63 2.68 4.46 7.31
DeVonta Smith* N/A

You can find the RAS definition here.

*Smith did not participate in his Pro Day

Legend Gil Brandt put out his own criteria for good numbers at the combine:

Targets (Gil Brandt) 4.5 1.5 2.65 4.1 7

There are 5 players over a 4.5 40, 0 players under a 1.5 10 yard split, 8 players under a 2.65 20 yard split, 1 player under a 4.1 shuttle, and 5 players over a 7 second 3 cone.

Kind of all over the place, right?

Athletically, there are only two players with an “elite” RAS: Hightower and Matthews. Simply put: they both performed extremely well at the combine among their peers. Six players had average RAS scores, two did not record one, and one had extremely poor: Gibson.

These are all measurements weighed against players in their draft class, so for the most part Howie has drafted average athletes in their respective draft classes.

College production

What about college? Does the player’s collegiate career factor into how they fare in the pros?

Player College years College receptions College yards Round
Riley Cooper 4 81 1496 5
Marvin McNutt 4 170 2861 6
Josh Huff 4 144 2366 3
Jordan Matthews 4 262 3759 2
Nelson Agholor* 3 178 2572 1
Shelton Gibson 3 84 1898 5
Mack Hollins 4 81 1667 4
JJ Arcega-Whiteside 4 135 2219 2
Quez Watkins 3 159 2404 6
John Hightower 2 82 1447 5
Jalen Reagor 3 148 2248 1
DeVonta Smith 4 235 3965 1

7 of the 12 played four years in college, so experience isn’t the issue.

It’s about production.

Eight players had over 100 receptions, four over 150, and two over 200.

Those two? Jordan Matthews and DeVonta Smith. Matthews averaged 65.5 recpetions and Smith averaged 58.75. If you take away Matthews’ 15 reception freshman year and Smith’s 8 reception freshman year, Matthews is at 82.3 over his final three years and Smith is at 75.6 over his final three. 

For comparison:

Cooper averaged 20.25 over 4, McNutt averaged 42.5 over 4, Huff averaged 36 over 4, Agholor averaged 44.5 over four, Gibson averaged 20.25 over 4, JJAW averaged 33.75 over 4, Quez averaged 39.75 over 4, Hightower averaged 41 over 2, and Reagor averaged 49.3 over 3.

Howie needs to stop getting cute with hoping big plays in college lead to NFL production and focus on players who performed at a high level consistently.

Current draft fits

With the above criteria, do any of the current WR prospects fit?

Wan’Dale Robinson broke out in his first year with Kentucky after two years at Nebraska for 104 receptions and 1334 yards. He averaged 65 receptions in his three years.

John Metchie averaged 51.6 receptions in his three years at Alabama after a 96 reception 2021 season.

David Bell has 232 receptions from 2018-2021, second most in that span. He did that in three years, averaging 77.3. Right behind him? DeVonta Smith.

Romeo Doubs, a stand out at the Senior Bowl, is right behind Smith’s 227 with 225 in that span, averaging 56.25.

Others over 200 receptions: Khalil Shakir and Emeka Emezie.

Of course, just production alone doesn’t guarantee success, but in the Eagles case it’s a good place to start.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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