The Philadelphia Eagles still have several holes to fill on their current roster before next season, that should be addressed via the draft one month from now. After several of the key additions to the offense and defense the past couple months, they still need to find help in the pass-rush, physical players in the defensive backfield and offensive line depth. But with the the release of now Carolina Panthers wide receiver Jason Avant and Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson, additional pass catchers officially can be added to that list as well.
Eagles wide receivers, Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin could supplant some of the lost production, but are not the natural vertical threat of Jackson. Both also have major question marks when it comes to their ability to stay on the field with consistent success. And with Eagles head coach Chip Kelly’s offense predicated on speed and stretching the defense, diversifying the depth chart would be a welcome addition.
Looking towards the draft, there are plenty of wide outs available to replace the tumultuous big play threat. Though the Eagles may be able to find wide receivers throughout all seven rounds, their options to fill other positions of need may be limited with their initial selection. Taking the best player available has been the team’s mantra, since Howie Roseman has taken over as Eagles general manager. Other top prospects, which fill needs at outside linebacker, safety, corner and offensive line, will likely be long gone by their first pick.
The top wide receiver prospect, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins may go as high as the second pick in the draft, with Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans to follow shortly afterwards. But with an extremely deep class, the Eagles are sitting at a good position to take an impact pass catcher with the 22nd overall selection. They could even consider moving down with a draft day trade and still acquire a high quality threat on the outside for the offense, while adding to their collection of picks.
During the combine, the two wide receivers that flashed incredible speed to match their on field production include: LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks. Though both do not have the physically imposing size that is littered throughout the NFL, they are polished route runners, who can make an immediate impact. Their vertical ability is very similar to what helped Jackson produce over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Other options that fit the offensive needs at wide receiver, who can go early on in the draft include: Indiana’s Cody Latimer, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews and USC’s Marqise Lee. All of which may fall in line with the Eagles draft board as the top player available, at the time of their first selection one month from now.