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#EaglesCamp Preview: Wide Receiver

Posted Jul 22, 2015


A Look At The Wide Receivers
Name Age Exp. Note
Nelson Agholor 22 R Will first-round pick make instant impact?
Seyi Ajirotutu 28 6 Special teams ace in search of roster spot
Miles Austin 31 10 An injection of experience in a young receiving corps
Rasheed Bailey 21 R Local product looks to make a splash
Riley Cooper 27 6 Steady red zone presence over last few seasons
Devante Davis 22 R Undrafted free agent with size/speed combo
John Harris 23 R Rookie looks to distinguish himself from young peers
Josh Huff 23 2 Flashes of greatness in ’14; Poised for breakout year?
G.J. Kinne 26 1 Will position change lead to roster spot?
Jeff Maehl 26 3 Former Oregon Duck fits well in Kelly’s offense
Jordan Matthews 23 2 How does he follow up impressive rookie season?
Quron Pratt 24 1 Can he make the leap from practice squad to active roster?

In the days leading up to Training Camp, we will take a look at the biggest questions facing each position group. Today, we look at the wide receivers ...

1. Youth Vs. Experience

When the Eagles broke Training Camp two years ago in 2013, the top three wide receivers on the team, in terms of the depth chart, were DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. Flash forward to now, and all three of those players have moved on, and it seems that the next wave of electric, young Eagles wide receivers is in place.

Jordan Matthews came on strong during the second half of his rookie season in 2014, with a noticeable spike in production once Mark Sanchez stepped in for Nick Foles. Sanchez looked for the Eagles' slot target again and again as the temperature dropped last season, and Matthews proved as a dependable weapon, finishing second on the team with 872 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Josh Huff had a tougher time earning offensive snaps as a rookie. When he did get on the field, the Oregon product showed flashes of brilliance, though inconsistency and a preseason shoulder injury ultimately hampered his progress. Still, his Eagles-record 107-yard kickoff return touchdown against Tennessee put his impressive skill set on full display.

With other young players like Rasheed Bailey, Devante Davis, John Harris and Quron Pratt also in the fold, the Eagles could keep one of the youngest receiver contingents in the NFL, but at the same time, veterans like Riley Cooper, Miles Austin, Seyi Ajirotutu and Jeff Maehl could provide the game experience that the youngsters simply cannot. 

Cooper has racked up 1,412 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns over the last two seasons, and his length has made him difficult to cover in red zone situations. Not to mention, Cooper’s blocking ability makes him a valuable asset in the Eagles' running game, the main pillar of the team’s offensive philosophy. Austin, a newcomer to Philadelphia, is a two-time Pro-Bowl selection with over 5,000 career receiving yards. He was a key member of Cleveland’s receiving group in 2014 before a freak incident ended in a kidney injury that cost him the final quarter of the season. As for names like G.J. Kinne and Seyi Ajirotutu, a spot on the roster may come down to how well the pair can perform on special teams.

2. How Much Will Be On Agholor's Plate?

The big unknown of the Eagles' young receivers group is first-round pick Nelson Agholor. Taken with the 20th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Agholor undoubtedly possesses the talent to step in and contribute right way (3,572 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns in his collegiate career at USC), but will the Eagles look to ease him into playing time or will he earn a starting spot right out of Training Camp? Agholor has been compared to Maclin in the past, so it might seem logical to fans that the rookie will step right in and instantly be Maclin's replacement. Then again, expecting 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns from a first-year player might be a little over the top.

What we know about Agholor so far is that he has the attitude and demeanor that Chip Kelly is looking for from his players. From his first day in the building, Agholor has shown poise and professionalism that far exceeds his age. We've also seen him taking reps as the Eagles' kick returner during mini-camp and OTAs, a duty that he held and exceeded at as a member of the Trojans. 

3. No. 1 Receiver? Slot Receiver? Does It Matter?               

In 2014, Jordan Matthews played almost exclusively in the slot. During the Eagles' spring sessions, reporters and fans alike kept a close eye on where Matthews was taking his training reps. Will he move outside? Is he the Eagles' No. 1 receiver? What about Huff, can he play inside and outside? And Agholor?

The answers to all of those questions may turn out to be irrelevant. It’s not out of the question to say that any Eagles receiver could line up inside at any time and that the Eagles could have a different leading receiver every week based on matchups. The fact of the matter is that the Eagles have assembled a group of wide receivers with nearly identical skill sets who are therefore interchangeable chess pieces in the Eagles' highly adaptable offense. The Eagles might not have a No. 1 receiver and they might not have a defined slot target. That will make the offense just that much harder to defend in 2015.

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