The NFL Scouting Combine is live in Indianapolis, and with that comes media time for Head Coach Doug Pederson and Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman. On Tuesday, both spoke about the 2020 Eagles, and while no roster decisions were announced and no news broken, the topic of wide receiver came up several times.
No shock, right?
The Eagles have a roster to address with the expectation that they will have some room to work within the salary cap to be active in free agency and address the current roster, and that they will have some draft equity – projected to be 10 picks once compensatory picks are announced – in late April. There is a lot to start with on this roster. The Eagles have a playoff-caliber team as it stands now.
They've got to add some key pieces to go to another level. They know it. They're excited to get things rolling. You can be sure the Eagles are going to get younger in the months to come as they build up the roster for 2020 and the years to follow.
Wide receiver, no doubt, is a position to keep an eye on throughout this roster-building period. For the record, Pederson and Roseman talked about both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson in the sense that both veterans have to get healthy, first and foremost. A fair take is that both are in the picture for 2020 at this point. Can that change in the future? Sure. Anything is possible. You know how unpredictable this time of the year can be.
But let's just go with the premise that Jeffery and Jackson are on the field for the Eagles in September. You start with those two and go from there.
"We're always going to look for playmakers. We're always going to look for guys who can help Coach (Pederson), who can help Carson (Wentz), and we'll just have to kind of figure out how we can all fit everything into the puzzle," Roseman said.
A piece of the puzzle is new wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, who you can meet on the Eagles Insider Podcast presented by Lincoln Financial Group in a couple of weeks. He's a former NFL player who was with Indianapolis, who worked his way up from the bottom to win a Super Bowl, and move his way into the coaching ranks.
Moorehead and I talked about what works at wide receiver in the NFL, and he comes in with an open mind.
"I think it's been proven," he said, "that there isn't a certain body type that you're restricted to having. Good receivers come in all shapes and sizes. You have to be tough, you have to love the game, and you have to be productive. That's the kind of receivers we're going to have."
Ahead of a draft that is said to be historically great at wide receiver, the Eagles already have the makings of a strong group. Jeffery and Jackson need to be healthy, no doubt about it, and when they are, they are both terrific – Jeffery with his huge catch radius and ability to box out defensive backs and Jackson with the world-class speed that he still has. Nelson Agholor is slated to be an unrestricted free agent in a few weeks, and should he move on the Eagles have a slot position to fill. Greg Ward, based off his production last season, has a chance to be that guy.
Second-year man J.J. Arcega-Whiteside needs to take a significant step forward and the Eagles expect him to do that. There are a handful of young, developmental receivers looking to make a positive impression.
The Eagles need to get it right at wide receiver. They need to surround Wentz with versatile, explosive weapons. They've got plenty at tight end with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. They're super-excited to see what a backfield led by Miles Sanders and Boston Scott can do, knowing that Jordan Howard is slated to be an unrestricted free agent on March 18 and that Corey Clement is working his way back toward full health after a couple of injury-riddled seasons and that Elijah Holyfield is going to be worth a long look in the spring and summer.
For this offense to truly get to the next level, as Pederson talked about in Indianapolis on Tuesday, the Eagles need to get it rolling at wide receiver. They've got Jeffery and Jackson in the equation, one that is as fluid as any other position at this time of the year.
Injuries put a huge damper on the offensive plans in 2019. The Eagles have to hope they're healthier this season, with more firepower and versatility around Wentz, with one of the game's best offensive lines in front of him and with a scheme that could have some significant tweaks.
How they address wide receiver, and what they do with the position, remains to be seen. But the Eagles aren't starting from scratch here. They've got some pieces. They'll likely add to wide receiver, as they do every season. It's a group that is central to the plan for 2020, and that is on the front line of every conversation among Eagles fans throughout the offseason.