Philadelphia Eagles News

WR a position to watch, of course, in months ahead

The initial plan – and we know how these things can change rapidly – is for the Eagles to welcome back from injury veterans DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery as two important pieces in the wide receiver puzzle for 2020. At their best, they are as deadly a duo as any in the NFL – Jackson with his speed and game-breaking abilities and Jeffery as the big, strong, box-out target who catches pass after pass after pass.

That's a good start. On paper.

We've got a long, long way to go before the Eagles have to do anything with the roster. They're just finishing the evaluation part of things and moving forward into the college all-star circuit, with the NFL Combine and then free agency to follow. It seems like a long ways away, but it really isn't, and things are going to move quickly.

That said, the Eagles have an intriguing situation at wide receiver, one that can accelerate to great with the right moves in the months to come.

Let's begin with Jackson, the 33-year-old speed merchant who blew the lid off the Washington Redskins in the season-opening game. When he's on the field, Jackson is pure dynamite. His track record says that it's wise not to expect Jackson to play all 16 games – he hasn't done so since the 2013 season.

Even if the Eagles get 12 to 14 games from Jackson, he's going to make a difference.

"I'm looking forward to getting him back and in the offense," head coach Doug Pederson said. "We know what he means in our offense with his speed and his skills. He's dynamic."

Jeffery is coming off a Lisfranc foot injury and has some rehab to do. The Eagles seem confident that Jeffery, who has a guaranteed contract for 2020, will be good to go. And that he will be a big part of the passing game.

"I think we forget some of the contributions to our team that Alshon has had: during our Super Bowl year, the injury he played with not missing a game and the contributions in that Super Bowl game, and last year (2018) he had 11 catches during the playoffs, and even this year in his last game he had nine catches for over 130 yards in the Miami game," Howie Roseman said. "Alshon is a talented player and he loves being an Eagle and he loves this city."

So, those are two players to factor into the mix at wide receiver. There are many other candidates to consider, however.

Nelson Agholor

A pending unrestricted free agent, Nelson Agholor ended the Eagles' season unable to shake a knee injury after playing inconsistently throughout the year. He was a standout in the Super Bowl season and in that Super Bowl LII victory, and then struggled in the next two years to reach that same level of production.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Entering his second season, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has a lot of work to do on his game and he knows it. The second-round draft pick faces a critical offseason. He will work hard and come back in great shape. A big second year would be huge for the Eagles' passing game.

Deontay Burnett

Deontay Burnett caught two passes for 48 yards in the regular-season finale against the Giants and then had a single catch against Seattle in the playoffs, displaying good hands and some good route-running skills. He's thin and he doesn't outrun defensive backs, but he'll get open and make the catch. An intriguing player to watch.

River Cracraft

Added late in the season to the practice squad, River Cracraft has some experience, having played with Denver in 2017-18. He looks like a slot receiver who can return punts. We'll get a feel for him in the spring and summer after the Eagles signed him to a contract.

Robert Davis

A talented athlete with size, Robert Davis had a taste down the stretch for the Eagles. He's got a lot of work to do with his technique and his consistency, but he's big at 6-3, 210 pounds, and he has a chance to improve a lot in his game.

Shelton Gibson

The former Eagles draft pick was signed off the Cleveland practice squad and drew a pass interference penalty against Seattle in the playoff loss. Who knows with Gibson? He's got speed, and he's also got a lot of work to do. That he can play on special teams helps his case as the Eagles evaluate the wide receiver position.

Marcus Green

A sixth-round draft pick by Atlanta in 2019, Marcus Green spent the entire season on Philadelphia's practice squad. He's only 5-feet-9, 191 pounds, so Green will have a lot to prove in the spring and summer. He knows the offense and he can play without thinking about where he needs to be.

Greg Ward

One of the pleasant surprises from 2019, Greg Ward showed that he belongs in the NFL on an active roster. He's ideally suited for a slot receiver role and could fill that spot should Agholor move on in free agency. Ward has all kinds of confidence after catching 28 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown in 2019. He's only going to get better and better at learning the nuances of the position.

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