Eagles OTA preview: Revamped receiving room preparing to take flight

NFL: OCT 31 Titans at Colts
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – OCTOBER 31: Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver A.J. Brown (11) carries the ball up the field during the NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts on October 31, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire)

As the Eagles begin their voluntary OTAs with mandatory minicamp right around the corner, the buzz around the team is at an all-time high. I mean 2017 vibes all-time high. Am I betting on a Super Bowl? No. Am I ecstatic to see this team on the field? Yes.

It’s for a good reason though. The team has taken several leaps over the last two years to help rebuild their wide receivers group. It wasn’t too long ago that the team relied on the “DNA boys” to carry the offense. Unfortunately, those players only carried multiple injuries throughout that year. 

It’s a different era now. Howie Roseman is feeling large and in charge while Nick Sirianni is getting the WR room of his dreams. Over the last two offseasons, the Eagles have added DeVonta Smith, Zach Pascal, and A.J. Brown to help a group that’s been suffering for years. Let’s take a look at who this group is shaping out so far and what to watch out for.

A.J. Brown

Brown is arguably a top-10 wide receiver with the potential to reach another level of his game here in Philly. He’s a big body wideout that’s damn near impossible to stop after the catch and has a better catch radius than any Eagles WR has had since Terrell Owens. Brown will be more than just the security blanket for Hurts as their friendship could ignite unique chemistry on the field.

DeVonta Smith

Smith is entering his sophomore season which could go either go sideways due to the sophomore slump or he could truly breakout due to A.J. Brown’s presence. He finished his rookie season with 916 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. He could surpass that as defenses may be more inclined to focus on Brown’s every move.

Zach Pascal

Pascal could be a huge X-factor in this group. Due to the experience he already has with Head Coach Nick Sirianni’s scheme, Pascal could have a huge advantage over several other receivers entering the season. He has a unique frame that allows him to excel from the slot position. Having him be that middle-of-the-field pass-catcher could truly help this offense as long as he stays healthy.

Quez Watkins

Quez Watkins is so much more than what we’ve seen out of him already. Watkins could be in for a breakout season if Hurts can find him while he’s open. Watkins had more than a handful of moments last season where he broke free and was completely ignored. He’s the burner on the outside that this offense needs to be effective going forward but again, he’s extremely overlooked when he’s on the field. 

Jalen Reagor

Jalen Reagor is entering his third season. While that should mean that there is a ton of pressure to produce, he may just be in the right position to be utilized correctly. With Brown and Smith being the 1A and 1B options on the offense followed by Pascal and Watkins, Reagor could take a needed backseat and be that spark plug when needed. If they can consistently work toward his strengths and abilities, he could be the Swiss army knife that this offense needs.

The back of the pack

Outside of the top five receivers in the group, the Eagles have loaded up with some familiar faces and also some new ones. The team has Greg Ward, Devon Allen, Keric Wheatfall, John Hightower, Josh Hammond, Britain Covey, and Deon Cain fighting for a roster spot. The Eagles have never kept more than 5 wideouts on the active roster so it would be interesting to see what they do with the remaining players. 

This team has always heavily valued special teams players and several of them fit that mold. Britain Covey and Devon Allen will be names to look out for when it comes to kick returns and punt returns while Greg Ward and John Hightower fight to keep their tenures with the team going.

Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire

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