Losing a player of former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s caliber is not something often seen in today’s NFL. Teams these days are generally willing to look past any character flaws–minor or major–if the player produces at a high level on the field. That being said, I, and surely the Eagles’ front office, don’t think that the loss of DeSean Jackson will hurt the Eagles as much as it appears. Let’s look at a few members of the Eagles’ squad who will replace Jackson’s 2013 productivity.
I may be taking the easy way out here, but I do think Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is in for a huge year. No, he has never had a 1000-yard season and yes, he is coming off of an ACL tear, but Maclin has proven in the past to be a reliable threat in the passing game. He was never the same home-run weapon that Jackson was, but Maclin is a more well-rounded player than Jackson. I expect Maclin to top 1000 yards for the first time in his career, which will account for the majority of production lost in releasing Jackson.
Others: I think that Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper will also top 1000 yards next season. Last year, Cooper managed to accumulate over 800 yards receiving after being virtually invisible the first 6 games of the season. Having Eagles quarterback Nick Foles consistently throwing to Cooper over 16 games will definitely increase his statistical output. Beyond Maclin and Cooper, the depth chart at wide receiver looks a bit dicey. The Eagles will likely draft a wide receiver in May. This will almost certainly help but I definitely hope to see Eagles wide receiver Arrelious Benn finally reach his potential and become a solid no.3 receiver in this offense.
Acquiring Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles from the New Orleans Saints was a smart move by the Eagles’ front office. Sproles gives head coach Chip Kelly another weapon to use out of the backfield or in the slot. I definitely expect him to have a similar year to what he had last year for the Saints, where he had over 200 yards rushing and over 600 yards receiving.
Philadelphia Eagles LeSean “Shady” Mccoy will no doubt continue being one of the best running backs in the league. Shady is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league and no doubt will continue to see that role next year. I would also like to see Chris Polk catching some passes out of the backfield. Polk was originally recruited to Washington as a wide receiver, so he no doubt has good hands.
In his rookie season, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz definitely performed extremely well, despite not being a “featured” player in the offense. His role will undoubtedly be larger next year, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented to see his statistical output double. Tight end Brent Celek will continue to be his reliable self, and we are likely to see the Eagles either use James Casey more or pick up a tight end who they will use more. If the latter case is true, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Eagles get Chip Kelly’s former tight end at Oregon, Colt Lyerla, in the late rounds or as an undrafted free agent. Despite character concerns, Lyerla’s measurables are among the best in this year’s draft class.
Is there another way the Eagles can replicate DeSean Jackson’s productivity? Will it be impossible for the Eagles to do so next year? Let me know in the comments below!