Eagles Should Not Use Another Draft Pick on WR in 2016


The Philadelphia Eagles definitely have a need at wide receiver going into the 2016 season.

However, I don’t think they should use another draft pick to select one. They’ve already used three draft picks in the last two seasons on the position, leaving themselves with a very young receiving corp. Having a lot of young weapons at skill positions is great for the future, but with the position group struggling at the moment, free agency seems like a better option to find a new wide receiver.

The Eagles decided that wide receiver was the team’s biggest scarcity going into the draft and selected Nelson Agholor, who has been out there a lot when he’s not injured, yet has produced very little over his rookie season. He has just 260 yards and one touchdown in 12 games, never recording more than three receptions in a game. For a first round pick getting as many snaps as he has, that’s not good.

Now, just because Agholor has struggled, it doesn’t mean they have less of a chance of picking a good wide receiver early in the 2016 draft. That’s not what I’m saying. But, rookies often need time to develop, and the Eagles are in need of a receiver who’s going to make an immediate impact at the position, not another guy who’s going to have to develop.

Jordan Matthews has technically had more receiving yards than last year, but has seen a drop-off in effectiveness. One reason could be that Matthews now has opponents’ top cornerbacks covering him this year, but drop problems also hurt him for the first half of the season. Statistically, Matthews has picked it up in the past few weeks, but most of his production has come in garbage time. In general, he hasn’t been the dominant force through the full 60 minutes of games that people, including myself, were expecting in 2015.

Josh Huff, the team’s third round pick in 2014, has indeed improved on his rookie season, earning a lot more snaps with Jeremy Maclin gone, but it hasn’t translated into the great season that many also expected of him (although I didn’t believe he would do as well as people thought). It’s good to see that he’s improved, but he has also been a non-factor in many games as a receiver, surpassing 50 yards just twice.

With three young guys already on the team and likely locks for the 2016 roster, it doesn’t make sense to bring in another young guy. The team’s other receivers, Riley Cooper, Seyi Ajirotutu and Jonathan Krause, are all in different situations. Cooper, the oldest of the bunch, should be cut after this season to save $2.9 million in cap space, but also just because he’s consistently been a bad player in the NFL. Ajirotutu is a free agent after this season and is generally a special teams player anyway. Krause is on the books for 2016 and 2017, but doesn’t seem to be more than a WR6 at the moment. They need someone new.

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People have already started to throw around a lot of names of guys they could target in the offseason such as Alshon Jeffery, but he’s likely due for a huge contract, something Chip Kelly may not be willing to give out like he did in 2015. Hopefully, he learned his lesson in that he can’t be giving out fat contracts to every free agent he sees. If he declined to re-sign Maclin, I don’t see why he’d sign Jeffery for what would likely be a similar salary.

The Eagles need a big, physical wide receiver who’s a veteran, but isn’t necessarily a WR1. I still believe that Matthews can be that top guy. But the biggest reason is based on the offense that the Eagles run. It’s been clear that Sam Bradford likes a lot of short routes and to spread the ball around to a bunch of different guys. Signing someone like Jeffery might look great on paper, but he likely would be underutilized based on his pay. With guys like Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles still getting a significant amount of targets, in addition to other guys getting catches here and there, there’s just not enough passes to go around to make it worth it to sign a big-name guy.

The Eagles may look thin at wide receiver going into next year, but the draft is not where they need to fill that hole. A modest signing in free agency can likely be enough.

Next: Eagles Should Bench DeMarco Murray for the Rest of the Season