It is not totally clear when we will see Jeremy Maclin for the first time.
The soon-t0-be 26-year old says his straight-line speed is back to where it was before he tore the ACL in his right knee, but needs to add strength in his quad and improve his lateral movement. The OTAs begin on May 27 and the mandatory minicamp runs from June 17-19. Chip Kelly wouldn’t commit to the receiver being ready for these activities, but believes he will be 100 percent for training camp.
Whenever Maclin jumps into action, he will assume the role as the Eagles primary receiver for really the first time in his career. Maclin was chosen with the 19th overall pick in 2009 -- one year after the Eagles used a second-round selection on DeSean Jackson. They shared the field for the better part of four seasons and developed into one of the best receiving tandems in Eagles history, though the mercurial, home-run hitting Jackson slightly overshadowed the business-like Missouri product. Now Jackson is gone, and Maclin will be asked to play the lead.
Howie Roseman was asked if Maclin can be a true No. 1 wide receiver.
"Number one receiver...certainly there are franchise receivers in this league. I think those are unique guys -- not that we don't have one," said Roseman. "We're just looking for really good players who fit our scheme. We look at our skill position players as a group."
The Eagles were aggressive in their pursuits to re-up the six-year vet. They were reportedly seeking a multi-year deal, though Maclin -- knowing his value was down because of the knee injury -- successfully pushed for a one-year contract.
There has been some debate as to exactly what Kelly is looking for in a wide receiver. He offered some serious hints when discussing Maclin's value at the owners meetings in Orlando.
"He’s one of those guys that if we’re gonna to see a lot of man coverage, I think can do a really, really good job because he’s such a precise route-runner, has outstanding speed, is good after the catch. And so we’re excited to have him back," said Kelly.
Maclin has averaged 65 catches for north of 860 yards and seven touchdowns in his NFL career. He has yet to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. He was charged with nine drops in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. The argument can certainly be made that his numbers will shoot up in Kelly's offense, just as they did for Jackson and Riley Cooper last season. And even if the Eagles take a receiver in the draft, as expected, Maclin will still be the alpha dog in 2014 and is likely to get the majority of the targets.
On the flip side, he is sure to garner more attention than ever without Jackson opposite him. Maclin did not sound very concerned when speaking with the media a day before Jackson's release.
"In the NFL, guys don’t get double-teamed in this league," Maclin said. "There’s one guy that gets double-teamed and that’s Calvin Johnson at the goal line. Guys don’t get double-teamed in this league. If you weren’t out there and you weren’t able to make plays, you wouldn’t be out there. To have him on the field and able to make plays is a plus for the offense, but at the same time, anybody that’s out there making plays is capable of doing so."
WHAT YOU MISSED
A look at who some of the draftniks are linking to the Eagles.
Highlights from Jackson's sit-down with ESPN.
Jake Knott has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season.
Unnamed Eagles rip Jackson.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Comcast SportsNet talked with Maclin and Brandon Boykin at a charity basketball game about playing against Jackson next year.
"It's going to be exciting, especially for the Philly fanbase, and the city of Philadelphia," Maclin said. "But it's just another game, man, against a division opponent, [and] we want to dominate the division. We're looking forward to it, but I think the most important thing is just to approach it like it's any other game."
Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports has the Eagles selecting Brandin Cooks with the 22nd overall pick.
Gone is DeSean Jackson and in is a much cheaper replacement. Cooks can fly and he had 128 receptions last year. There will be a cry for defensive players at this spot and a case could be made for any of the remaining defensive guys left in the round.
We'll kick draft coverage into high gear.