If Jackson Walks, Eagles Will Look to Draft for Replacement

Editor’s note: Staff writer Steve Fini checks in with a look at what the Eagles might do to replace the potentially departing DeSean Jackson.

The Eagles will have a gaping hole at wide receiver in 2012 if they decide to let DeSean Jackson walk come March. This will be a hole they must fill. While potential free agents Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson present possible targets, it’s more likely the team will address this need through the draft.

Upgrading internally is not an option if this team wants to make a legitimate run at a Super Bowl in 2012. And it had better be looking to do so.

Jason Avant is an underrated slot receiver on this team, but simply doesn’t possess the ability to be a true second option. Riley Cooper had his moments in 2011, but isn’t a viable threat. So let’s take a look, in order of personal preference, who the Eagles should target in April’s NFL Draft.

Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) - The Eagles don’t have a prayer of landing Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon. However, if you watch the tape on Floyd, it’s obvious that he has the skills to be an above average receiver at the next level. He’s a big body which is something the Eagles’ current crop of receivers desperately lack. He’s quick, too. Given that he played with dreadful quarterbacks at Notre Dame, it’s astonishing he put up big numbers. With no true complimentary wideout to play along side of, no real running game to speak of, and a revolving door at QB, Floyd still managed to dominate even when teams knew he was the lone threat. With the Eagles having a short, inaccurate quarterback, it would serve them well to draft a guy like Floyd who can makes good adjustments to the football and makes the acrobatic look routine.

Kendall Wright (Baylor) - Quick–who was the primary reason Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy? Answer: Kendall Wright. Many have dubbed Wight “The next DeSean Jackson.” But there’s reason to be cautious about Wright. He’s going to run a great 40 time and has game-breaking ability. But Wright was also only productive for one season. He’s small like Jackson and comes from a spread offense so route running could also be an issue, particularly given the attention to detail that is essential in Andy Reid’s offense. So I guess what I’m saying is, wouldn’t it be better to keep the first DeSean Jackson, who is a proven commodity, over the “next” DeSean Jackson, who is a complete question mark?

Alshon Jeffrey (South Carolina) - Another big-bodied receiver who would look nice in midnight green. But the Eagles love speed at the position and that’s something Jeffrey lacks. The 6-4, nearly 240-pound Jeffrey is a monster and perhaps the most physical receiver in the draft. But Michael Vick’s best throws come when he’s working deep down the field. Jeffrey doesn’t have the elite speed to consistently beat NFL corners right now. If he runs a good 40 time at the combine or at his pro day, look for his stock to soar. Until then, I don’t think the Eagles would take a shot on the former South Carolina standout.

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