Draft Daily: Ranking the Eagles’ Top 10 WR Prospects

NCAA Football: Southern California at Arizona State

With the draft just 10 days away, Howie Roseman, Chip Kelly and the Eagles likely have their wide receiver wish list in order.

Personnel people and analysts have been saying for months now that this is potentially the deepest group of pass-catchers of all-time. With DeSean Jackson gone and Jeremy Maclin on a one-year deal, it seems likely that the Eagles will add a wide receiver or two come draft time.

Keeping that in mind, below is my guess at how the team has its top-10 receivers ranked. Most, if not all, of these players are expected to go in the first three rounds. I know many of you might be interested in some of the Day 3 prospects, and we’ll get to them in a later post.

But for now, here are the top-10, along with notes on each.

1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Measurables: 6-1, 211, 4.43

I’m buying the hype on Watkins. Of all the receivers in this year’s class, he’s easily the most electrifying with the ball in his hands. According to Rotoworld, 57.4 percent of his catches came on screens last year, and Watkins averaged 8.48 yards after the catch. He can accelerate past defenders, is elusive and has the versatility to line up inside or outside. Watkins has excellent hands and can get over the top on vertical routes. He’s a physical player and has tremendous ball skills.

The Eagles, of course, have no shot at Watkins as he’s expected to be a top-five selection. But I’d be curious to see just how high he is on their overall board. Watkins is good enough to be productive in many offenses, but he’d be a lot of fun with Kelly.

2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
Measurables: 6-5, 231, 4.53

Full video breakdown

One of the most physically imposing receivers in this year’s class, Evans was a big-play machine last year, averaging 20.2 yards per catch. He does a great job of out-muscling defenders on 50/50 balls, has excellent hands and is a master at improvising and coming back to the ball when his QB’s in trouble.

Some have suggested that the Eagles could look to trade up for Evans. I don’t see it. I’m not sure he has the versatility that Kelly values, as most of Evans’ catches seemed to come outside the numbers. He’s not particularly elusive, and his athleticism doesn’t jump off the page. Evans’ game is using his size to his advantage, and he does that extremely well. He seems like a lock at this point to be the second receiver off the board.

3. Marqise Lee, USC
Measurables: 6-0, 192, 4.52
Full video breakdown

Many of you will disagree, but Lee is one of my favorites. He’s not a burner, but Lee has the “I know exactly what I’m doing out here” trait and is able to consistently make plays after the catch. Lee is physical, polished, can play inside or outside and has shown big-play ability.

It’s tough to overlook the fact that Kelly values guys who did damage against his teams. And that certainly applies to Lee, who caught 12 balls for 157 yards and two touchdowns against Oregon in 2012. At the time, Kelly said Lee might have been the best receiver he’d ever coached against.

Lee had some issues with drops last year, and because his measurables don’t jump off the page, he could slip a little in the first round. But the guess here is that the Eagles rate him higher than other teams, and if he’s there at No. 22, they’ll be ecstatic.

4. Odell Beckham, Jr., LSU
Measurables: 5-11, 198, 4.43
Full video breakdown

Beckham won an award last year for being college football’s most versatile player. We all know Kelly loves the v-word. In addition to averaging 19.5 yards per catch, Beckham excelled as a return man on kickoffs for the Tigers. He’s got big hands, ran an excellent 40 time and showed he has short-area quickness.

Beckham might be most valuable in the slot, but his skill set suggests he can get it done on the outside as well. He’s one of the top vertical threats in the draft.

Beckham has generated quite a bit of pre-draft buzz, and chances are he’ll likely be gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock at No. 22.

5. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Measurables: 5-10, 189, 4.33
Full video breakdown

Of all the receivers on this list, Cooks best fits the “toy for Chip Kelly” description. His 40 time was the third-fastest of any wide receiver in the last five years. And Cooks’ production was off the charts (128 catches for 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013). Cooks was fantastic on screens, and despite being only 5-10, he was plenty productive in the red zone (22 catches, 10 TDs in 13 games).

The name of the game with Cooks is: get the ball in his hands and let him go to work. And with his speed, he’s obviously a threat to get behind the defense on every snap. There’s nothing soft about his game either. Cooks can make plays inside the numbers, and he does a nice job on 50/50 balls as well.

There’s a chance that Cooks goes off the board before the Eagles pick. But as of right now, if the Birds go wide receiver at No. 22, I’d say Cooks and Lee are the most likely options.

6. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Measurables: 6-5, 240, 4.61

He was probably the most difficult receiver to rank on this list. Kelly could love him, or the Eagles could have him buried on their board. There are reasonable arguments for either.

Let’s start with the first. Benjamin’s size presents a potential matchup problem on a weekly basis. Defensive coordinators will have to determine how to prepare for a guy with his physical dimensions. In addition to the height and weight, Benjamin has long arms and huge hands. And most importantly, he knows how to take advantage of that size, consistently overwhelming opponents physically at the college level. He’s fantastic when the ball’s in the air and can be a punishing blocker.

So, what’s not to like? He’s well below-average athletically in just about every category. In the last three drafts, only one receiver who ran 4.6 or worse got taken in the first two rounds. Benjamin is a 23-year-old prospect. Maybe his size advantages will translate to the NFL. Maybe they won’t. But he’s going to have a tough time beating NFL cornerbacks with speed.

Whichever team drafts Benjamin needs to have a plan for how to use him. I’m guessing the Eagles view him as a draftable player, but are not as high on him as some of the other prospects in this class.

7. Cody Latimer, Indiana
Measurables: 6-2, 215, 4.44 (Pro Day)

Full video breakdown

If the Eagles are drafting on potential and upside, Latimer could be even higher. The sculpted wide receiver has a good size/speed combination and may be the best blocker at his position in this year’s class.

Latimer was productive last year with 72 grabs for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns. His biggest strength is probably making plays on the ball when it’s in the air. Latimer is a physical player who possesses good body control.

But there is a projection involved with taking Latimer. He has a lot of good traits, but few would describe him as a special player at the college level. I think drafting him at No. 22 would be a stretch, but others may disagree.

8. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
Measurables: 6-3, 212, 4.46
Full video breakdown

I seem to like Matthews more than others. He has size, speed and finished his career as the SEC’s all-time leading receiver (in both catches and  yards). Matthews has long arms, huge hands and was a captain last year for Vanderbilt.

In my in-depth breakdown, I likened him to a rich man’s Riley Cooper. Matthews can track the ball downfield, make plays on screens and block on the perimeter. The reason Matthews is not rated higher is because some of his numbers are tied to scheme. Per Rotoworld, nearly 46 percent of his catches were on screens. And Matthews is not especially shifty or elusive.

He’s a consideration at No. 54. And if somehow Matthews slips to the third round, he could present tremendous value.

9. Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
Measurables: 6-2, 221, 4.40
Full video breakdown

He’s another guy with impressive measurables. In addition to the size and speed, Moncrief has a 39.5-inch vertical. At Ole Miss, he played in a spread no-huddle and had 59 grabs for 938 yards and six touchdowns last season. His 2012 production was more impressive – 66 catches for 979 yards and 10 TDs.

Moncrief shows flashes of great play-making ability, but he doesn’t consistently use his size and speed to his advantage. And he has inconsistent hands.

So there is a bit of a projection with Moncrief. Unlike some others in this class, he may have a hard time stepping in right away and being productive. But Moncrief doesn’t turn 21 until August. If a team sees that upside, he could go off the board in the second round.

10. Allen Robinson, Penn State
Measurables: 6-2, 220, 4.60

Full video breakdown

Let’s start with Robinson’s 40 time. The 4.60 number is from the combine. He re-ran it (12 pounds lighter) at his Pro Day and reportedly was sub 4.5. Teams will have to do their homework and figure out why that discrepancy existed. As I mentioned above. wide receivers who run 4.6 or slower rarely go in the first two rounds.

On the field, Robinson averaged 119.3 receiving yards per game last season, third in the nation. In addition to his height, he has a 39-inch vertical and does a great job of using that leaping ability on downfield throws.

Robinson was fantastic in the screen game for Bill O’Brien, averaging 14.3 YAC on those plays, according to Rotoworld. There’s a lot to like here: Robinson can make plays with the ball in his hands; he can win 50/50 balls; and he can be used in the middle of the field.

If the Eagles are convinced his speed checks out, he could be higher on this list.