The Philadelphia Eagles turned in the 2nd-best offense in the league in head coach Chip Kelly’s rookie year behind the production of All-Pro running back LeSean Mccoy and the emergence of Pro-Bowl quarterback Nick Foles. The offense, namely the receiving corps, faced some big questions in the offseason after the release of Pro-Bowl wideout DeSean Jackson. However, the Eagles addressed those questions and now the Eagles’ receiving corps looks like it will be among the best in the league.
In the draft, the Eagles added former Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews and former Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff with their 2nd and 3rd round picks to the mix . In total, the Eagles currently have 13 receivers on their training camp roster, a number that will probably be whittled down to 5 or 6 by the time the regular season roles around.
#1 Receiver: Jeremy Maclin
The unquestioned #1 receiver on the roster is wideout Jeremy Maclin. While there are some questions regarding his comeback from a training camp ACL tear last year, Maclin has undoubtedly been the most productive in the NFL of all receivers currently on the roster. Maclin has never surpassed a 1,000-yard receiving season, but he was previously the #2 wideout behind DeSean Jackson and he has never played in Chip Kelly’s offense. Maclin is in store for his biggest season as a pro and will surpass 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
#2 Receiver: Riley Cooper
Whether Eagles wideout Riley Cooper remains the #2 wide receiver is contingent on him beating out 2nd-round selection Jordan Matthews in training camp. Cooper had a breakout year in 2013 once Foles took over as the starting quarterback. After negligible contributions in the first 5 games of the season, Cooper broke out to the tune of 835 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns on the season. Because of that level of production, Cooper goes into training camp as the #2 receiver.
#3 Receiver: Jordan Matthews
Former Vanderbilt wideout Jordan Matthews enters the league after becoming the all-time leading receiver in SEC history. That alone should tell you about this guy’s capabilities. Matthews was viewed by a lot of draft analysts as a 1st-round selection and no one would have batted an eye had he been selected at #22. Matthews could potentially beat out Cooper for the #2 receiver spot, but even if he doesn’t, he looks to have a bright future in an offense that will hopefully help him reach his full potential.
#4 Receiver: Josh Huff
While some analysts believe that drafting former Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff in the 3rd round was a bit of a reach, we can rest assured that Chip knew what he was doing. Chip, who coached Huff at Oregon, has firsthand knowledge of Huff’s potential and presence on the field. He also knows how to utilize Huff’s skills as a dynamic weapon. Huff has the build of a slot receiver, which will add an element that the team did not have last year: a reliable #4 receiver.
The #5 and, maybe, #6 wide receiver spots are up for grabs among the 9 remaining wideouts on the roster. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Arrelious Benn has a lot of potential if he can return from injury and avoid the injury bug. If he can’t do either of those things, the Eagles have a lot of other options to choose from. Eagles’ veteran wide receiver Brad Smith is a dynamic weapon who could make the final cut. Also, the Eagles have receiver Jeff Maehl, who was the only 1,000-yard receiver in Chip Kelly’s offense at Oregon, and punt/kick returner Damaris Johnson, who were both on the roster last year. Personally, though, I’d like to see fan-favorite wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah learn to use his outstanding size (he’s 6’7″) and speed (4.4-second 40-yard dash) and become a reliable weapon in the passing game.
All in all, I think the Eagles’ receiving corps is shaping up nicely. What was a question mark before the draft has now become one of the strengths of this team. This receiving corps should help quarterback Nick Foles take his game to the next level and become an elite passer and help the offense as a whole improve on what were already historic numbers.