Thoughts and analysis on the Philadelphia Eagles

Position Battle: Wide Reciever

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This is probably the low point of the year as far as the NFL goes. The draft is over and has been analyzed ad nausea, free agency is over and has been talked to death, the season is still far away… So, in these doldrums I will continue to analyze the major position battles.

So let’s get to WR.

In all the WR position is pretty weak from top to bottom. There’s question marks at literally every position on the depth chart. Anyone who reads me regularly knows how highly I think of Reggie Brown, but the fact is that he’s a 2nd year player that really only saw significant time for 9 games last year. I think he’s going to be a very good player, but he’s got a lot to prove. Jabar Gaffney seems like a solid possession WR that is going to catch 50-60 balls, but he’s never played in the west coast offense which we always here is complicated for wideouts to learn. Then there’s Todd Pinkston, who despite not being the most popular Eagle, has shown more and done more in his career than any of the other guys on this roster. However, he’s coming off a major knee injury and there’s question marks about how ready he’ll be to start the season. Other than Greg Lewis, there’s no one else that has even taken an NFL snap. With the lack of true, experienced veterans the battle for the WR spots is pretty wide open.

Reggie, Gaffney, & Pinky are the clear top 3 coming into camp. If Pinky is healthy, we have a solid albeit not scary (for opponents that is) top of the depth chart. The top 3 receivers will get the lion’s share of the snaps. If Pinky is unable to play, the #3 slot through 6 slots are wide open. Veterans Greg Lewis and Darnerian McCants, rookies Jason Avant & Jeremy Bloom, along with undrafted free agents JJ Outlaw & Hank Baskett (who the Eagles traded the perennially disappointing Billy McMullen to the Vikings for) are left to fight for a roster spot.

Jason Avant, the 4th round pick, is going to make the team. It’s very unlikely that a 4th round pick won’t make the team. Jeremy Bloom is probably the reason that 6 wide receivers will make the roster. He’s here to be a return specialist and is so raw as a WR that he likely see very few if any snaps at WR this year. Assuming he shows any ability as a return man, he should be a lock to make the team.

So assuming that Reggie, Gaffney, Pinky, Avant & Bloom make the roster… that leaves one spot for another guy.

Greg Lewis and Darnerian McCants are the only guys with experience out of the group. In 04 Lewis showed some ability to stretch the field in 3 and 4 WR sets, however when he was installed as a starter last year he struggled mightily. In an offense where Andy Reid was passing over 60% of the time and TO out the lineup for most of the year… Greg managed only 48 catches and 1 TD. On the worst team in the league, playing opposite a good WR, in an offense that passes much less than the Eagles Gaffney managed to get 55 catches for 2 TDs. That shows just how overmatched Greg was last year. McCants’ however, did virtually nothing as WR last year(5 catches). He did manage to distinguish himself as a good special teams player, which is important for WR that’s #4, or 5 on the depth chart. It’s very likely that the only snaps guys so low on the depth chart see (barring injury) are on special teams. So the fact that McCants played so well on special teams last year will certainly help his chances of making the team.

Despite his shortcomings, Greg has at least shown he can do some things on an NFL field. The rest of the competition for the final slot have not shown that. In fact, they didn’t even show enough to get drafted this year. Probably Greg’s greatest threat is Hank Baskett who the Eagles traded former 3rd round pick Billy McMullen for. Baskett was a guy that a lot of draftniks projected as a potential 5th round pick due to his exceptional size(6‘3“ 224lbs), physical play and good hands. That said, every team in football passed on him and the Eagles drafted a LB and a DT instead of him. Considering that they had already signed 2 free agents at those positions and drafted 2 guys on the first day at those positions doesn’t exactly mean a ringing endorsement for Hank. He seems to be a WR with great size, but severely lacking in speed… reminds me of Billy McMullen….

Finally, there’s guys like JJ Outlaw from Villanova & Justin Jenkins who are long shots to make the team.

There’s been some talk about the Eagles having interest in disgruntled Denver Broncos WR Ashley Lelie. Since the Broncos traded for Javon Walker and still have Rod Smith, Lelie wants to go somewhere he has a better chance to play more. It’s been rumored that the Eagles have called about him, but the Broncos are asking too high a price in terms of draft picks. Lelie has never quite lived up to his 1st round pick expectations, but he’s at least a proven NFL WR that has shown an ability to catch the deep ball. So far though, it seems as if we are going to war with what we have….

3 Responses to “Position Battle: Wide Reciever”

  1. Anonymous Tim 

    I disagree, respectfully. I think our recievers show a lot of promise, and I'm comfortable in the fact that we have so many young players. Most of your star recievers are over 30 and on the down slope of their careers. I think these guys will develop well together. But you are right to a point. I think we should have been more aggressive going after a veteran wide reciever in free agency.

  2. Anonymous JB 

    I am excited to see what these guys can do as a unit. I know there's young guys and potential there. My main fear going into this season is that we need guys ready to produce right now. This isn't a rebuilding team, with a healthy #5 they are looking to win this year.

    I wasn't one of these people clamoring for Eric Moulds, Keyshawn, or any of these other older declining guys, but another guy who has proven he can play in the NFL would have been nice.

    Basically, I'm skeptical about this WR corps. I don't hate it, but they need to prove some things before I'm confident in them.

  3. Anonymous LoboWally 

    Looks like we were all wrong about Hank Baskett, who is now listed on the starting team. Everybody but Mel Kiper, that is!

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