What should we expect from each Eagles wide receiver in Training Camp and beyond?

Eagles devonta smith
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)

The Eagles start off their camp on July 26th and will begin one of their more anticipated seasons of recent memory. Despite the Super Bowl loss and some players leaving in free agency, there is plenty to be excited about with this squad.

One major reason for excitement is the offense. It was one of the best, if not the best offense in team history, and, seems like it remains just as talented. A huge factor in the Eagles’ offense becoming elite was the play of their wide receivers all season long. It has long been a position of need for the Birds and they finally put everything together last season. They remain a lethal threat through the air and in 2023, look to be just as effective as they were in 2022. 

AJ Brown

One of the biggest trades in franchise history got off to a roaring success when the Eagles acquired AJ Brown from the Titans. He put up really good numbers in Tennessee but was not the focal point of their run-heavy offense. It was in 2022 that Brown had a career year, and elevated himself into elite status by setting a team record in receiving yards, with 1,496, while catching 11 touchdowns. He also has immense chemistry with Jalen Hurts, as the two off the field are very close friends. 

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) celebrates his third touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

For 2023, I would say it is fair to expect a season very similar to last year. Brown may not get more receiving yards or touchdowns because of the other offensive options around him, but he should remain a game-changing threat that the opposing defense has to plan for every single time he’s on the field. He’s as physically dominant as any wide receiver in the NFL and while not known as a speedster, remains a downfield threat. He’s above average in every aspect of his position so his expectations should also be above average. I have little doubt that he’ll deliver.

DeVonta Smith

While AJ Brown often gets more attention, DeVonta Smith is a talent that shouldn’t be overlooked. After breaking the Eagles’ franchise record for rookie receiving yards in 2021, Smith became part of the first receiving corps in team history to have multiple 1,000-yard receivers in 2022. He grabbed 11 touchdowns and acquired 1,196 receiving yards. Smith started the season slowly, getting no catches in the opener versus Detroit, but by the end of the season was stacking up 100-yard games one after another. 

DeVonta Smith eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 14: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) celebrates his touchdown during the game between the Washington Commanders and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 14, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Unlike Brown who seems to be at the peak of his ability, DeVonta is still ascending. He’s only in his third season and has plenty of room to grow. He is extremely effective on short, intermediate, and deep routes making him playable on all downs and scenarios.

I see Smith continuing his development and possibly even overtaking A.J Brown for most receiving yards on the team this season. His ceiling is so high and with his attitude and past production, there’s no reason why he can’t have an even better season. 

Quez Watkins

After having somewhat of a breakout season in 2021, Quez Watkins took a step backward in 2022. His receiving yardage was almost cut in half, from 647 to 354, respectively. It just seemed like Quez could never find his footing in the offense. He played in all 17 games but got 11 fewer targets. He also struggled with concentration drops which really left a dark cloud over his starting status.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball against Washington Commanders safety Bobby McCain (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Quez and the coaching staff have acknowledged that last year was a bit of a disappointment during OTAs earlier this year, but he seems determined to correct himself. His role will be similar to last year’s as the third wide receiver, but with a better mindset, he can bounce back closer to his 2021 form.

Olamide Zaccheaus

After Zach Pascal signed a 2-year deal to play with the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles needed a replacement for the 4th wide receiver spot. They decided to sign a local product, in Olamide Zaccheaus. He spent the first 4 seasons of his career in Atlanta, backing up Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Drake London in that time.

In Atlanta, Zaccheaus spent portions of his career rotating as the second and third options for the offense, but here, he will most likely serve as the 4th option. I expect to see a dip in his production based solely on circumstance, and not actual talent. With the talent ahead of him it’s hard to see a lot of playing time and opportunity given to him. The one exception is if Quez has a season similar to last and disappoints. I don’t really foresee that happening but Zaccheaus can have a bigger impact than Pascal did in 2022. 

Devon Allen

After the initial 4 receivers, there remains a lot of uncertainty coming into training camp. The player who I believe is occupying the 5th wide receiver position right now is Devon Allen.

For someone that hasn’t played a single snap in the NFL, Allen has quite an interesting story. Coming out of college in 2016, Allen decided to focus on his track career, then in 2022, was signed as an undrafted free agent to the Eagles. He stayed on the practice squad last season and never broke onto the active roster.

Allen may never make it to playing on an NFL field due to his dual-sport activity, but he is a nice story nevertheless. His only real shot at a spot on the roster is if the Eagles get decimated by injuries, which is always a possibility in football but remains unlikely. 

Britain Covey

After Allen, comes another undrafted free agent signed in 2022, Britain Covey. He didn’t have any catches last season but did have a presence on the team as a punt returner, something he excelled at in college. Covey could have a better path to playing time than Allen since he will most likely already be on the active roster as a returner, but it is still unlikely to see him as a piece of the offense.

He played in all 17 games but wasn’t able to break out into an offensive player. If he impresses as a returner, maybe Nick Sirianni starts to integrate him, but it is again unlikely without any type of injury ahead of him. 

Greg Ward

Somehow Greg Ward is still floating around the team facility. He has been a part of the team, whether on the active roster or practice squad, since 2017. Ward has been a mainstay of the wide receiver room for the past 6 seasons and signed a 1-year contract in February to remain with the team in 2023.

Greg ward eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 13: Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Greg Ward (84) celebrates a first down reception in the second half during the game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles on December 13, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

He’ll enter camp with a slim chance to make the team but will most likely be relegated to practice squad status, due to the team’s overall depth at the position. Somehow Ward could sneak into a game this season but he will probably remain on the practice squad unless another team likes what they see this summer. 

Tyrie Cleveland

After spending the first two seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos, Cleveland signed a 1-year deal with the Eagles to play on the practice squad. He has 8 catches for 91 yards in his career, while also getting some playing time as a punt returner. Cleveland doesn’t factor much in the battle for an active roster spot but could serve as some competition for Britain Covey’s role as punt returner. I would not expect Cleveland to play for the team this year and may not make it through training camp.

Jadon Hasslewood

After going undrafted in the 2023 draft, Jadon Hasslewood got his chance to play for an NFL team when the Eagles signed him. Hasslewood played at the University of Oklahoma for 3 years and transferred to Arkansas for 1 season. He acquired 1,440 yards in his college career while having a career-high of 704 in 2022. While there is always a surprise in training camp, it likely will not be Hasslewood. 

Charleston Rambo

Rambo signed with the Carolina Panthers after the draft in 2022, remained on the practice squad, and then signed a contract with the Orlando Guardians of the XFL. The Eagles signed him in May away from Orlando and will come into July as a camp body. With a lot of the other depth pieces on the team, there isn’t much of a way for Rambo to make the team in 2023. 

Joseph Ngata

Ngata was yet another undrafted free agent who signed with the Eagles earlier this year. He played at Clemson University for 4 years and played in parts of 45 games, starting 25 of them. He got 1,287 career yards and 6 touchdowns at Clemson and got a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

After having arguably one of the best-receiving cores in the NFL in 2022, the Eagles will remain at least the same in 2023 if not even better. The tandem of AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith is elite and with depth options surrounding them, the entire unit can remain a weapon for the team. With Hurts running the show on offense, the Eagles will always focus on running the ball, but the pass is a deadly and effective option at their disposal. 

AP Photo/Matt Slocum