Now before the comments start coming in, yes I know, the following article is inconsistent with the article that I wrote earlier this year entitled The Philadelphia Eagles Should Target a Wide Receiver (which can be found here). What needs to be understood, is that after reviewing dozens of mock drafts, watching tons of tape, and analyzing who is going to be available for the Eagles at picks 22 and 54 my opinion has changed. Let me explain. I wrote the previous article before the Eagles released Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the reason I bring this up is that at that time many draft experts projected the Eagles taking a defensive player, while I hoped they would move on from Jackson to take a top wide receiver. Now that Jackson is gone, and receiver is considered a need, many experts are agreeing with my original statement that the Eagles need a wide receiver to replace Jackson. Which is why it only makes sense that I change my mind and say the Eagles should not take a wide receiver in the first round. This is not because I think that it is not a big enough need for the Eagles, but because I have decided that this draft is so unbelievably deep at wide receiver that it would be a waste not to take advantage of that.
It is because of this need for continued growth that the Eagles need to be sure that they are taking the right players in this year’s upcoming draft. So far the Eagles have been linked to many players, lately there are even reports of the Eagles being interested in Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. ESPN writer Phil Sheridan argues that it would be very entertaining to see Manziel on the Eagles (article can be found here). I personally cannot see the Eagles taking Manziel, as they have too many other pressing needs, along with a very capable starter in quarterback Nick Foles. I must say, it would be incredible to see what kind of tricks Chip Kelly can figure out with a guy like Manziel leading his fast paced offense.
Many reporters believe that Eagles should and will take a wide receiver with their first round pick, the number 22 overall pick. The Eagles have been linked to names like Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer, Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, and even Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, to name a few. I now believe that the Eagles would be better off waiting and taking a wide receiver in the second round of the draft, and taking a defensive player in the first round. To show why I believe this, I am going to show you the 2013 statistics of four wide receivers entering the 2014 NFL Draft. Look at them, decide who you would want for the Eagles, and then I will reveal who is who.
So are you ready for the big reveal, have you made up your mind as to who you want for the Eagles? My guess is that many of you picked C as the least attractive of the four. I was thinking the same thing, Player C is Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State. Benjamin has actually been linked to the Eagles on numerous accounts and is thought of a top receiving prospect. These are by no means bad stats, and Benjamin’s touchdowns are incredible, but they are definitely overall the weakest stats of the four players. Something else not shown above, is that Benjamin played 14 games while the three others played 13 games.
Next, Players A and B are pretty close in statistics, based on the stats alone, I probably would be leaning towards Player A. Player A is Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins is thought of as the best wide receiver in the draft this year, and is a can’t miss prospect. Rightfully so considering his stats combined with his athleticism and his size. Obviously the Eagles would be very lucky to have Sammy Watkins, although there is a very slim chance of that happening. Then we have player B, who had pretty similar stats to Sammy Watkins, beating him in two of the three categories above. Player B is Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
I know, if you have read any of my articles in the past, you have heard my opinion on Jordan Matthews, which for those of you that have not read any of my previous work, is very high. Jordan Matthews along with Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson (who had almost identical stats to Matthews) are two incredibly talented wide receivers that will be available at the very earliest in the late first round. Matthews is statistically the best wide receiver in SEC history, and has just as good, if not better statistics than Sammy Watkins. On top of that the SEC is widely considered the toughest division for an offensive player on account of how good the defenses are. Yet he is only a second round prospect, and I have even seen some drafts where he goes in the third round. ESPN draft expert Todd McShay has him going 56th overall to the San Francisco 49ers in a pick they received from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Finally we have player D. Player D is the most interesting comparison, he is a wide receiver, also from the SEC. He is not there anymore, as he is now playing for the Atlanta Falcons. Yes, player D is star Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. These stats are from his last year in college when he played for Alabama. Clearly up to this point Jones has more than lived up to the hype from college, and his stats are worse than Jordan Matthews, both of whom played in the SEC.
I recognize that statistics are only part of the equation, the other main portion is raw talent. It is his raw talent that makes Sammy Watkins such a can’t miss prospect, trust me I know that, I love Sammy Watkins as much as anyone. Also Jones was a way more athletic prospect than Jordan Matthews is. The point that I am trying to make is that one of the many factors in evaluating talent, actual production, seems to get overlooked. When you look at the raw talent of Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews you still see something special. Both Robinson and Matthews are 6’3”, Robinson is 220 pounds and Matthews is 212 pounds. In comparison Sammy Watkins is 6’1”, 211 pounds. My point is simply that Robinson and Matthews are not being mentioned, yet they are bigger than Watkins.
Watch on Youtube: The Supreme Allen Robinson Highlights
Finally, who should the Eagles take? I have my final decision before the NFL draft, I would love for the Eagles to get Allen Robinson of Penn State. After watching tape of this local star, I have become enamored with his raw talent, his “NFL ready” body, and his vertical leap. Like Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, Robinson is the kind of receiver that a quarterback can trust that when the ball thrown up for grabs, they will fight hard for it and come down with it. The Eagles have missed a guy like this for years now. DeSean Jackson wasn’t that kind of receiver. If we are going to move on without Jackson, now is the time to improve, not take a step back.