Nov 28, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) against the Arizona Wildcats during the 88th annual territorial cup at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Round 1: Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State
It’s clear the Eagles have a gaping hole at wide receiver right now after Jeremy Maclin left the birds to reunite with his former head coach Andy Reid in Kansas City. Jordan Matthews was the only other bright spot at wide receiver last year for the Eagles. Riley Cooper looked nothing like the player he was in 2013 and Josh Huff constantly made mistakes whenever he was on the field. Prior to free agency, it didn’t seem like Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong would fall to the Eagles at 20th overall. But now that the Vikings, Texans and Niners have all signed receivers in free agency, there’s suddenly a chance that Strong could reach the bird’s pick and return to his hometown of Philadelphia.
But forget about the homecoming, Strong would immediately step in and be the Eagles #1 wide receiver. At 6-2, 217 lbs., he has the size that teams typically look for in a top receiver on the outside. But the way Strong plays backs it up as well. Although he may not get separation like the other top prospects in the draft, nobody goes up and gets the ball at it’s highest point like Strong. His route running needs work but he ran a lot of the routes that the Eagles ask there receivers to run like shallow crossing routes, screens, etc. Strong would also be a welcome addition in the red zone, where the Eagles have noticeably struggled.
It’s worth noting that Strong has already visited the Eagles’ facility as well, according to his own Instagram account. Now that may not seem like a big deal but as Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Lee Gowton noted in this article, six of the Eagles’ seven draft picks in the 2014 NFL Draft actually visited the team’s facility. The only player that didn’t was Oregon wide receiever Josh Huff, who had years of experience playing under head coach Chip Kelly. Strong would be a solid pick in the first round that would immediately upgrade their underwhelming group of wide receivers.
Next: Round 2: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut