Draft Prospects Who Could Replace DeSean Jackson In Philadelphia


Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (10) catches a pass during mini camp at the Philadelphia Eagles NovaCare Complex. Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Four rookies who could replace DeSean Jackson in the Philadelphia Eagles offense.

It looks like DeSean Jackson won’t be a player of the Philadelphia Eagles for long. Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman are reportedly shopping the speedy wideout and appear ready to cut him, if no team is willing to trade for him.

Jason Avant was also released this offseason. The Eagles will have to draft at least one wide receiver if they do not want to enter the 2014 NFL season with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper being the only viable options at the position.

Here is a list of four rookie wide receivers that could replace DeSean Jackson on the Eagles roster.

1) Brandin Cooks – Oregon State

USC Trojans S Josh Shaw (6) grabs the legs of Oregon State Beavers WR Brandin Cooks (7) in the second half at Reser Stadium. Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

What the experts say:

Peter Smith, of With The First Pick:

"Cooks game is similar to that of DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Both are extremely athletic, albeit physically small players that can make plays with the ball in their hands and create separation.  Both also have shown to have some issues dealing with press coverage and beating a jam."

Vance Meek, of eDraft:

"Cooks is as explosive a player as there is in the 2014 NFL Draft…e’s quick off of the line of scrimmage, and easily transitions into his route. His ability to blow past defenders on double moves or fakes give him a leg up on many of the other wide receiver prospects in this draft…He’s a natural pass catcher with the ability to get his hands on the ball, whether it’s thrown low or high…A team like the Philadelphia Eagles could certainly find a use for him. He can line up at the X, Y, or Z positions and that makes him a potentially very valuable resource."

Ryan McCrystal, of Bleacher Report:

"Does a great job adjusting to poorly placed balls. Played in a well-balanced passing attack at Oregon State and was asked to run a full complement of routes. While many receivers are track-fast, Cooks has the functional speed and agility to make him extremely elusive in the open field. His athleticism also makes him a fluid route runner, with the potential to improve in this area."

My take:

Brandin Cooks was measured a bit under 5′ 10″ with 9 5/8 inch hands and a 30.5 inch arm length. He was the fastest receiver at the 40-yard dash. He also did well in vertical leap and bench press.

Watching him play in Oregon State’s offense, I couldn’t help myself but think of DeSean Jackson. He accelerates quickly and has no problem beating the receiver in post routes. He lined up all over the field, went in motion at times and he did damage from every spot. However, he looks like a much better fit at the slot.

He is not super ellusive, but can shake off defenders after the”catch and turn”. Most teams had a corner on Cooks and a safety nearby. He was rarely in one-on-one situations.

The Eagles could definitely replace DeSean Jackson with Brandin Cooks. The presence of Maclin, Cooper and Darren Sproles would allow the Birds to ease him in Jackson’s role and help him develop more, before naming him a starter.

If the Eagles want Cooks, they will have to pull the trigger on him in the first round, since he is projected to be selected somewhere between the 20th and 40th pick of the draft.

I like Cooks as a player, but I don’t like him much as the 22nd overall pick. No matter how the first round of the draft goes, there will be players that represent more value and probably could help Philadelphia on the other side of the ball.

2) Davante Adams – Fresno State

Fresno State Bulldogs WR Davante Adams (15) looks to elude New Mexico Lobos DB Tim Foley (14) after making a catch in the second quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

What the experts say:

Peter Smith, of With The First Pick:

"Davante Adams was a prolific pass catcher in college and he displays an impressive, raw ability to catch the football, both down the field and in the red zone.  If he can match that with polish and technique, he can be a good NFL receiver for quite a while.  He projects as a big target who can move the chains, score touchdowns and make some big plays down the field."

Matt Johnson, of eDraft:

"Adams…has the speed to take a screen pass 80 yards to the house but he can also make the leaping grab in the corner of the end zone when the Bulldogs need a big play in the red zone. For all Adams has done though in just two seasons as the Bulldogs’ top wide receiver, he has so much more potential left to fill…he is my fifth wide receiver prospect; falling just behind Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee."

Ryan McCrystal, of Bleacher Report:

"Has the potential to develop into a quality possession receiver if he adds some weight and improves his ability to win against physical defensive backs. Does a nice job adjusting to the ball and made quite a few acrobatic catches at Fresno State. Gives a solid effort as a blocker and has the size to make this a strength of his game with improved technique. It will likely take some time for him to develop and learn where he can win with his skill set in the NFL."

My take:

According to the scouting combine measurements, Davante Adams is 6′ 1″, has 9-inch hands and 32 5/8 arms. He ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at the combine and his 39.5-inch vertical leap was the third best.

Adams does not excel in anything, but he is a good overall receiver. He has a great combination of size, speed, jumping ability and experience. He runs his routes well and he is also an adequate blocker in running plays.

Adams needs to smoothen out his movement and after-the-catch running. His hand size is smaller than ideal and he had some pass-catching issues at Fresno State.

Adams is just 21 years old and he could definitely benefit from a year or two of developing before becoming a starter. He is more like a possession receiver than a deep threat, but if the Eagles want to get bigger at this position, they could pick him to replace DeSean Jackson.

Projected as a mid-second to early-third round pick, Davante Adams should be available for Philadelphia in the second round. I believe that Adams in the second round is a better pick than Cooks in the first round, in terms of value. I am a big fan of this potential pick, as it’s obvious from one of my previous articles.

3) Kelvin Benjamin – Florida State

Florida State Seminoles WR Kelvin Benjamin (1) runs the ball in for a touchdown against the Florida Gators. Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What the experts say:

Peter Smith, of With The First Pick:

"Benjamin can play on the outside but he has really been an effective weapon playing from the slot, looking the part of a joker tight end.  He is a player that can be moved around quite a bit…Kelvin Benjamin is a tremendous prospect who looks the part of an elite wide receiver.  His size and speed are impressive, but he is still learning quite a bit about the position.  The drops are the biggest issue, but his route running and how he carries the ball are issues as well."

Connor King, of eDraft:

"Benjamin has the ability to produce the big catches that make scouts drool over and really show his potential. With his height, Benjamin is very good at getting to high peak points to get catches above cornerbacks in the endzone. With in-game action, Benjamin has the ability to beat cornerbacks downfield and at times draw safeties toward him that open up one-on-one coverage with other wide receivers…Benjamin is still a very young raw product that has some improving to do."

Ryan McCrystal, of Bleacher Report:

"Long arms, big hands and impressive leaping ability give him an edge in every jump ball situation… When he learns better body control and how to adjust to the ball, his catch radius will rival any receiver in the league. Benjamin is extremely talented, but he has a long way to go before reaching his full potential. He has admitted to lapses in focus and credits his improved maturity to his breakout 2013 season."

My take: 

A 6′ 5″ tall receiver with 10-inch hands and almost 35-inch long arms is not something we see very often. Kelvin Benjamin did not impress at the scouting combine (4,61 second at the 40-yard dash, 32.5-inch vertical) but he really didn’t need to.

Benjamin’s frame is rare and is enough for him to be a mismatch for every cornerback in the NFL. He is a huge target in he red zone and in the end zone and he can catch balls away from his body that other receivers cannot.

What I like in Benjamin is that he will draw double or even triple coverage when close to the end zone or in it, opening up space for his teammates. He has the speed to be a deep threat.

On the other hand, he will not be as impactful when required to change direction. He is not very fast, lacks athleticism and he doesn’t position himself well when he goes after the ball. Despite his strong arms, Benjamin is not strong overall. He must add some bulk to his legs and his upper body.

Benjamin is an extremely raw player, but as all rare specimens, he is projected to be picked higher than his playing level suggests.

Kelvin Benjamin could be the guy to replace DeSean Jackson, despite their totally different builds. Chip Kelly likes bigger players and Benjamin is bigger than anybody else.

Still, I don’t think Benjamin would be a good fit for Philadelphia. Outside of his big frame and straight-line speed, there is nothing impressive about him. If he was two inches shorter, he would be projected as a late-round pick.

However, this is not the case and Benjamin will likely be gone before the Eagles pick in the second round. Picking him 22nd overall looks like the only way to get him and that would be a mistake, in my opinion.

4) Josh Huff – Oregon

Oregon Ducks WR Josh Huff (1) makes a catch as Virginia Cavaliers CB DreQuan Hoskey (22) defends at Scott Stadium. Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

What the experts say:

Peter Smith, of With The First Pick:

"Huff is able to get open, catch the ball and make plays but need to continue developing and refining those areas of his game… Huff’s best fit might be in a power running game and he definitely has the ability to contribute in a spread scheme. His blocking is a huge asset and while he has shown he is necessarily a special receiving threat, he does look like someone who can contribute as a third or fourth option with the potential to improve."

Josh Collacchi, of eDraft:

"Despite Huff’s hands being relatively small (9 and 1/8th), he uses them well and comes down with the ball secured… Not every ball is going to land in the “bread basket”, so adjusting to poorly thrown balls, or underthrown balls is a good abiliity to have. Huff was a consistent pass catcher at Oregon, and he was able to adjust with the best of them. Huff was the best route runner at Oregon, and was able to cut his way open because of his route running…Unfortunately he does not possess elite speed, or any other elite physical tool."

Ryan McCrystal, of Bleacher Report:

"Played a versatile role in Oregon’s offense, lining up wide, in the slot and even in the backfield. Prototypical build for a slot receiver — height limits his ability downfield, but he’s strong enough to handle himself against most nickel cornerbacks in the slot. Willing to work across the middle and has shown the ability to hang on to the ball after a hit… Routes are often sloppy and rounded off… Lets the ball get into his pads too often and got away with a lot of double catches due to the fact that so few of his targets were contested."

My take:

Josh Huff’s is 5′ 11″ tall with 9 3/8 inch hands and an arm length 31 1/4 inches. He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash and his vertical leap was measured at 35.5 inches.

Huff is a fast receiver that does his damage after catching the ball. He was used in a spread offense at Oregon, lining up wide in the slot and even in the backfield. He is not a natural outside the numbers, but his quick feet allow him to get separation from the coverage.

My biggest concern with Huff is his focus. In traffic, he tries to get the extra yard when there is nothing there or he will make a cut when the best option was to keep going. Focus is also a problem when trying to catch the ball. It looks like Huff thinks what he should do after the catch before securing the ball.

Huff fits the mold as a replacement for DeSean Jackson. Although not as fast, Huff can be used in the same way. He can play at every position and run every route. When he has space, he is as dangerous as anyone.

Huff is projected to go from late in the third round to early in the fifth round of the draft. If he is available by the time the Eagles pick in the fourth round, I’d like to see them selecting him.

Combine measurements were taken from Big Cat Country (link here) and workout results from NFL.com’s tracker (link here).