Have the Eagles found their answer in the slot with new WR Olamide Zaccheaus?

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles helmet sits on a cart during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagle on December 22, 2019, at Lincoln Financial Filed in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The starting job at slot receiver still belongs to Quez Watkins to hear Nick Sirianni tell the story. The Philadelphia Eagles head coach may be telling the truth, but don’t be surprised if he has competition for it at training camp. Olamide Zaccheaus should have a say in how everything plays out with the Eagles.

The 5-foot-8, 193-pounder is coming off a breakout 2022 campaign where he excelled in the slot for the Atlanta Falcons. He hauled in 40 balls for 533 yards and 3 touchdowns while making his biggest impact when Marcus Mariota was under center. Zaccheaus saw 737 total offensive snaps, with 60.9% of those snaps coming in the slot. Falcons quarterbacks – Desmond Ridder later replaced Mariota as the starter – owned an impressive 109.5 passer rating when throwing his way.

The Eagles haven’t informed Zaccheaus on what his role will be this season. Honestly, they probably don’t know yet as the coaching staff prepares for the next round of spring workouts. It’s likely going to be trial and error, swapping Zaccheaus and Watkins in and out of different sets. One thing we do know is that the South Jersey native is ready to go with the Eagles. He was eager to return home and join the team he grew up rooting for.

“Just being patient and hearing back from my agent,” Zaccheaus said of the free agency process. “You see an opportunity like this, I just told my agent, let’s be aggressive and jump on this, and that’s what they did. That was that. That’s what that was.”

Olamide Zaccheaus: From Saint Joseph’s Prep to Undrafted Rookie to the Eagles

It’s safe to assume that Olamide Zaccheaus still has a chip on his shoulder. The Eagles wideout went undrafted in 2019 despite leaving the University of Virginia as the school’s all-time receptions leader (250) and ranking No. 2 in receiving yards (2,753). That’s gotta sting anyone’s ego.

Prior to that, Zaccheaus starred at St. Joseph’s Prep where he won two state championships playing alongside new Eagles running back D’Andre Swift. Now he’s back home with the Eagles after officially inking a one-year deal on May 3. Here are the best soundbites from his introductory press conference:

On his relationship with D’Andre Swift: “That’s my guy, man. We grew up together. We played high school ball together. We won two state championships, just kept in touch throughout the years. I said before: everything’s happening for a reason, you know, he’s exactly where he should be right now. And I feel the same way. It’s just a beautiful opportunity, that I talked to him about, just embrace it. Things happen, just the nature of the business, whatever, but this is happening for a reason and I’m glad to be back and working with him each day.”

FILE – Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts looks to pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the NFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. Jalen Hurts is set to sign one of the richest deals in NFL history, agreeing to a five-year, $255 million extension with the Philadelphia Eagles, including $179.3 million guaranteed, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The Eagles announced on Monday, April 17, “QB1 is here to stay,” but terms were not yet announced, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet final. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, FIle)

On his first impressions of Jalen Hurts: “His demeanor in the building. It’s like stoic, I guess that’s the word to use. Like he has a calmness about him and it’s comforting in a way because I guess I’m kind of the same way in a sense, just go to work and we’re working for one thing, to win. Obviously, throughout the offseason, OTAs, training camp, and we’ll build that chemistry but seeing him in the building … he’s had the success he’s had for a reason; you can see it.”

On scouting reports that called out concentration drops: “I was always able to catch, but there were little inconsistencies there coming out of college and, really, just working at it. That’s just how I got better at it. I think one thing that’s been said here is raising that floor, and I think as far as just being able to catch the ball consistently every time I’ve raised my floor to a very high level. It just came with time and work and just having that confidence in myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) is tackled by New York Giants safety Tony Jefferson (36) after making ac a catch during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Studying the Best Slot Wide Receivers in Football

Zaccheaus admitted to studying some of the best receivers in the business, including his newest Eagles teammate, DeVonta Smith, Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, plus old-timers like Steve Smith and Antonio Brown. He is always looking to add to his toolbox so devouring film helps him get better. He doesn’t do it to steal their moves, though. He does it to gauge how good his own game is and how he can improve it.

“Each offseason, especially last offseason, I started to dive into that a lot more, seeing not necessarily what I could take away from those people but just how they’re doing it,” Zaccheaus said. “It just helped me mentally, just seeing the different ways that you can be successful in the league. Everybody doesn’t have the same skillset or is the same height or is as fast as each other but that just helped me, just be confident in what I can do.”

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire