Riley Cooper had a standout year for the Philadelphia Eagles in his fourth season in the National Football League. Cooper stepped up big time after the Birds lost Jeremy Maclin to a season ending ACL injury in the offseason. He recorded 47 receptions, 835 yards and 8 touchdowns as the Eagles second wide receiver on the depth chart.
However, will his performance this season be enough to keep him in a Philadelphia uniform next year?
Cooper did receive a lot of negative attention in the offseason, after film leaked of him drunkenly making racial slurs at a Kenny Chesney concert. It was his chemistry with quarterback Nick Foles that allowed for Eagles fans to forget the negative publicity he brought towards the franchise.
But was Cooper good enough to justify keeping such a controversial figure on the roster? Especially with a healthy Jeremy Maclin returning to next year’s line up?
Many Eagles fans have made the case to draft a wide receiver and let Cooper get swept away into free agency.
Philadelphia would benefit from a possession receiver that would offset the speed they currently have in Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Although the Eagles have two talented Tight Ends in Zach Ertz and Brent Celek, they lack a physical wide receiver with steady hands to use as a third down option.
A physical wideout would also take the pressure off of Jackson and Maclin while keeping defenses guessing. Drafting a receiver would make the Philadelphia wide receiver corps just as talented as Denver, Green Bay or New Orleans. It also doesn’t hurt that the Eagles have one of the best running backs in the backfield in Shady McCoy to use as a safety valve.
Lets look at viable draft options for Philly at wide receiver:
1. Mike Evans- Texas A&M 6’5” 225lbs
69 Receptions, 1394 yards, 12 Touchdowns
2. Kelvin Benjamin- Florida State 6’5” 235lbs
54 Receptions, 1011 yards, 15 Touchdowns
3. Allen Robinson- Penn State 6’3” 210lbs
97 Receptions, 1432 yards, 6 Touchdowns
4. L’Damian Washington- Missouri 6’4” 205lbs
50 Receptions, 893 yards, 10 Touchdowns
5. Martavis Bryant- Clemson 6’4” 200lbs
42 Receptions, 828 yards, 7 Touchdowns
Draft prospects like Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin have the frame and end zone awareness to be the top wide receivers in the draft. Depending on how high the Eagles franchise puts the wide receiver on their list of needs, guys like Evans and Benjamin may not be available by the time Philly gets the chance to make their first round pick.
It is more likely that the Eagles will be able to get there hands on receivers like Allen Robinson and Martavis Bryant, who are extremely athletic apart from being built like a brick house.
If the Eagles do not resign Riley Cooper, expect to see Philadelphia make a move for one of the top receivers in the draft. Even if that means they will have to trade up a few spots to solidify getting them. However, if Cooper does get resigned, the Eagles will most likely address the many issues they have on the defensive side of the ball.