Analysts and general managers alike are raving about the talent in this draft, and receiver is the first position they cite to illustrate their point. If you’re in need of a wideout, chances are you’ll be able to find one come May.
“I think we’re going to be sitting there in every round and there’s going to be a receiver we like,”said Howie Roseman. “It’s just going to happen that way…Guys will be pushed back because of the quality and the depth of the class.”
The question is: how much will that factor into their stance when it comes to free agents Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin?
First, it decreases (perhaps significantly) the possibility that both Cooper and Maclin are back next season. DeSean Jackson is on the books for $10 million. Jason Avant (at least for the moment) is due to make north of $3 million. They currently have about $16 million dedicated to the position for next year. While that number can be whittled down (by restructuring or releasing Avant, for example) it's still hard to see them throwing two significant contracts onto the pile when cheaper options are available in the draft. So unless both players are willing to take discount deals, chances are one of them is walking.
"I think it is complicated when you look at it because we have guys on our roster that we drafted and that we like as players and that certainly fit into the chemistry of our football team," said Roseman. "And we're trying to figure out the whole dynamics of it because you can only put a limited amount of resources at a particular position before it starts taking out from other places."
The Eagles general manager spoke of establishing walkaway numbers before diving into negotiations. Even though they like both Maclin and Cooper, they don't want to move too far beyond what they consider market value. The strong wide receiver crop allows them to be more disciplined in that respect.
Still, the flexibility and freedom only extends so far. The Eagles don't want to find themselves in a situation where both Maclin and Cooper are elsewhere in 2014.
Think of it this way: Steelers GM Kevin Colbert on Thursday called this draft the deepest and most talented he's seen during his 30 years in the industry. He also brought up the point that it is the most immature. A record number of underclassmen have flooded this class, which has a lot to do with the depth that everyone is talking about. But younger players typically aren't as developed, and may not bear fruit immediately. Most of the top-end receivers are underclassmen.
Will Chip Kelly want to rely heavily on a young rookie that is unfamiliar with his system? Clearly, the preference would be to have a veteran option opposite Jackson.
The Eagles have a level of interest in both Cooper and Maclin. Cooper is healthy and already has a successful year in the scheme under his belt; Maclin has more upside but also comes with more risk. The market will help dictate which one they choose but chances are they choose one, let the other walk and then pull the trigger on one of the young guns in the draft.