Whoa, slow down there knee.
In the wake of Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s release from the Eagles, it seems everyone’s immediate knee-jerk reaction is that the Philadelphia Eagles must find his replacement immediately in the first round of May’s upcoming draft. Even Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks chimed in on the fun stating during a philly.com interview he could “do it like DeSean Jackson and do it better”. While the former Biletnikoff Winner had an outstanding year, the Eagles should look to address more pressing needs on their defense rather than spending a 1st-round pick on a wide receiver. There are plenty of other excellent wide receivers in this year’s deep class. The Eagles should take advantage of this and capitalize more on the value of their 22nd pick while still being able to find an excellent wide receiver in later rounds that can be impactful as a rookie.
Take the two receivers below for example:
Receiver A: 16 games started - 82 catches – 1332 yds – 9 tds
Receiver B: 14 games started - 71 catches – 1046 yds – 8 tds
These two receivers put up nearly identical numbers on a per game basis. Receiver A being DeSean Jackson, and Receiver B as San Diego’s rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen.
San Diego took Cal’s Keenan Allen with the 76th pick in the third round last year. Allen led all rookie WR’s in 2013 with 71 catches for 1,046 yards and 8 touchdowns. These numbers are even more impressive after knowing Allen collected a mere total of 4 targets over his first three games, one in which he did not dress. Hard not to see him surpassing his 2013 totals as he acclimates himself more to the NFL and gets a full offseason with his team. The Eagles will surely miss Jackson’s game breaking speed and explosive plays, but his productivity can be replaced — even by a rookie.
With how deep and talented this rookie class of 2014 is, a valuable wide receiver can still be found after the first round. There are plenty of big, physically gifted wide receivers such as Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Fresno State’s Davante Adams, and Mississippi’s Donte Moncrief. These guys could still be on the board and fit Chip Kelly’s mantra when the Eagles’ second or third round pick is up. Adding one of those guys to a receiving corps of Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper and tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz would give head coach Chip Kelly plenty of weapons to use in his arsenal. Tack on the receiving production from both running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, and the Eagles should be able to maintain another year of high productivity in Kelly’s offense.
The Eagles should instead focus on improving a defense that ranked last in passing yards allowed and 29th in total yards allowed. All three levels of the defense could be addressed with their 1st-round pick and the Eagles would be wise to stick to the best defensive player available on their board.