Eagles Wake-Up Call: Wide Receiver Combine Prep
Josh dropped the word “uninspiring” in the first sentence of his wide receiver position outlook last week, and for good reason. The Eagles’ wideouts were a comatose bunch in 2015; Jordan Matthews aside, no Eagles receiver hauled in more than 400 yards. It was the first time since 1991 that the Eagles had just one wide receiver with 400 yards.
But the corps is young, and believed to be talented. By jettisoning Riley Cooper and committing to the future, the Birds’ top three wide receivers heading into 2016 — Matthews, Josh Huff, and Nelson Agholor — have an average age of 23.
Will the Eagles feel the need to add another young face via the draft? Will they look to free agency for depth? Josh believes the latter. If they choose the former, here are some names to watch during the Combine as we prepare for the Draft.
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
Height/Weight: 6-2, 210
Projected round: 1
Analysis (NFL.com): Like DeAndre Hopkins, both players should be defined by their talent, ball skills and consistency of production over pure speed numbers. Treadwell is at his best when he has a clean, two-way go off the line of scrimmage and he could be a challenging size matchup from the slot. While Ole Miss used him underneath quite a bit, he runs quality downfield routes and has the ball skills needed to become a more vertical receiver than underneath, possession guy.
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Height/Weight: 5-10, 190
Projected round: 1
Analysis (NFL.com): Dangerous vertical talent with the ability to get over the top of defenders who fail to recognize his blazing quickness off the line of scrimmage. Coleman can get instant separation to create favorable passing windows and is one of the top playmakers in this draft. Coleman’s issues with drops near the middle of the field could be a concern if teams see him next as a slot receiver due to his lack of size. Regardless, he can line up outside and win and he offers immediate punt return help.
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Height/Weight: 6-3, 210
Projected round: 1-2
Analysis (NFL.com): Thomas has just scratched the surface of his potential in Ohio State’s offense full of quick outs and tunnel screens. While he has the size and potential to excite offensive coordinators, Thomas is still a work in progress who must develop a greater feel for the position if he is to match his traits with real NFL production. Thomas has a relatively high ceiling, but his floor is “bust.”
Will Fuller, Notre Dame
Height/Weight: 6-0, 184
Projected round: 2
Analysis (NFL.com): Fuller doesn’t check all the boxes with his slight frame, below average hands and limitations with his game-by-game production, but he possesses the coveted ability to hit the big play and score touchdowns. My grade might be higher than some, but Fuller has the type of functional speed that can win deep and free teammates up in the intermediate passing game. Look for Fuller to come in and contribute early on as a third receiver.
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Height/Weight: 6-0, 217
Projected round: 3
Analysis (NFL.com): Consistently productive receiver with good size but pedestrian long speed. While Carroo benefited from Rutgers’ offensive system, he was still producing at a high level despite the attention that was paid to him. Carroo will need to continue to sharpen his route running in order to improve his separation on the next level, but his size, hands and ability to block in the running game could land him in the middle rounds with a chance to become an eventual starter.
We’ll see what Doug Pederson has planned for his wide receiving group in Philadelphia, but one thing stands out after his three years with the Chiefs: at 6-foot-3, Jordan Matthews is instantly the tallest wideout Pederson will have worked with since he arrived in Kansas City.
During his three years as the team’s offensive coordinator, Pederson had two wide receivers — Dwayne Bowe and Chris Conley — who stood at 6-foot-2. Other than those two, Pederson’s wideouts stood either 6-foot-even, like Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, or checked in below the six-foot mark, like Donnie Avery (5-foot-11) and Albert Wilson (5-foot-9).
Both types of wide receiver — big and strong, and small and quick — have found their respective places in the NFL. It’ll be interesting to see which way Pederson’s corps skews.
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“He’s at the absolute nadir of his value after a disastrous 2015.” What they’re saying.
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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
From CSN Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank, Malcolm Jenkins believes Sam Bradford can be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with the Eagles.
Jenkins appeared on Comcast SportsNet’s Philly Sports Talk Tuesday, and the Pro Bowl safety spoke very highly of Bradford, who quarterbacked the Eagles last year.
“I think it was kind of a tale of two seasons for Sam,” Jenkins said. “Early, especially in the first half of the season, I don’t know how comfortable he was in the locker room or being in the role of the leader on the team when he had just gotten here.
“He’s got new guys. Then he got hurt, and when he came back, he decided to take the team by the horns basically. He really started to be a lot more vocal, he started to break down the huddles, he started to speak to the team before every game.”
James Parziale of FOX Sports lists the Eagles as one of seven potential landing spots for Robert Griffin III when he gets cut by Washington.
This scenario depends on if new head coach Doug Pederson likes Sam Bradford or not. Bradford is a free agent and may come with a lofty price tag. As the Chiefs offensive coordinator from 2013-15, Pederson helped guide Kansas City to a 31-17 regular-season record and playoff appearances in 2013 and 2015.
Pederson is credited with developing quarterback Alex Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick by San Francisco. Under Pederson’s guidance, Smith had three consecutive 3,000-yard seasons, threw the second-fewest interceptions among quarterbacks with more than 1,000 attempts (20) and ranked fourth among all quarterbacks with 1,183 yards rushing.
RG3 could be a much cheaper option than Bradford.
Which teams will be the Eagles’ primary competition for Sam Bradford? Tim investigates.