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Taking A Look At WR's Big Picture Here


Absolutely nothing is etched in stone, not when a new head coach brings a new offense into the fold, and not when a wide receiver corps is as undistinguished as the one the Eagles had at the end of 2015. So it makes sense, then, that the Eagles have added some veteran pieces in free agency and have upped the anticipated level of competition for the spring and summer ahead.

Neither Chris Givens nor Rueben Randle has established himself as a star-caliber receiver in the NFL. Both have offered glimpses -- Givens with his down-the-field speed and Randle with his strong hands and big (6-2, 208 pounds) body -- but neither has been consistent enough to be a "go-to receiver" for an extended period of time in this league.

But both are Eagles -- Givens having signed a one-year contract last week and Randle having agreed to terms on Wednesday to a one-year deal -- and both are going to be given a chance to take their careers to the next level under the exacting eyes of receivers coach Greg Lewis and the demanding presence of head coach Doug Pederson in this "hybrid" West Coast offense. The additions of Givens and Randle provide a feeling of "wholeness" to a largely undefined wide receiver room. 

We're in the speculative phase of the offseason, and so nobody really knows how this is going to unfold. But the Eagles are adding some competition to their wide receivers group, a tactic that usually pays off in so many positive ways. Both Givens and Randle have great incentives, both in their current contracts and for the future, to have their best seasons. The receivers currently on the roster understand that nothing is going to be given to them, that none of them are going to have "holdover rights" to make the roster in 2016. Competition breeds better performance, and that's the idea here.

With that in mind, let's take a look at what the Eagles have at wide receiver as the room stands now.

Jordan Matthews, third season

Terrific production, extremely hard worker with a great attitude, Jordan Matthews is going to have a prominent role in the offense. Where, exactly, is the question. Pederson will take a look at Matthews in the spring both in the slot, where he's mostly played during his previous two seasons, and outside. Matthews could be a receiver who moves around the formation to get favorable matchups. He's going to be a major part of this passing game.

Nelson Agholor, second season

Here is what Pederson thought about Agholor prior to the 2015 draft: "I liked him. He was a receiver that I studied," Pederson said on Wednesday. "I thought he had a great skill set -- size, strength, speed, smart kid, sharp. All of the things that came true when I had a chance to talk to him and just introduce myself to him this spring. I'm looking forward to working with him."

A strong improvement from Agholor would go a long way toward making this receivers group formidable. He struggled as a rookie in an offense that didn't give him many opportunities to make plays down the field, and a sprained ankle suffered in the win over New Orleans stunted his growth. A new offense, a change of scenery in the coaching staff and some competition in the room could be what nudges Agholor to a major improvement in his second NFL season.

Rueben Randle, fifth season

A former second-round draft pick from LSU, Rueben Randle had his ups and downs in four seasons with the Giants. He didn't develop into a star. He had some inconsistencies. He gets knocked from observers of the Giants for his work ethic and his route running and his mental preparedness. Randle had some interest from around the league in free agency -- the Rams, specifically -- but he'll have a chance to earn playing time and opportunity here.

Can he put it all together and use that big body (6-2, 208 pounds) to good use? Does a new building and a new locker room invigorate Randle? The Eagles invested one year with not a lot of reported dollars into Randle, so it's a low-risk, high-reward situation for the team.

Chris Givens, fifth season

Chris Givens is here on a one-year contract, same as Randle. And he wants to prove himself, just like Randle. Givens can stretch defenses with his speed, so he's got a dimension to add to the offense. Givens has to show he can be consistent and trustworthy, and very likely he's going to be asked to play on special teams in coverage to make this team. Gonna be interesting. 

Josh Huff, third season

We've seen flashes from Josh Huff. He explodes with the football in his hands. He's a powerful runner and he's got speed and he can make people miss. But can he be precise enough and consistent enough and bring it every day to win over this coaching staff? Guaranteed, Lewis is going to coach him in a demanding way. If Huff can ever unlock all of that ability, he could really be a playmaker in the NFL. But he hasn't shown it on a consistent basis for two seasons and now he's got veterans like Randle and Givens to compete against.

Jonathan Krause, second season

Last year was a taste for Jonathan Krause, who played in two games and caught two passes. He has something to his game, so let's see if Krause can make more of an impact now that he's got a taste of the NFL and understands the tempo of the regular season.

Will the Eagles use Krause in the slot? They want to take a look at the players both inside and out, so a really good spring could open eyes for Krause.

Freddie Martino, first season

Freddie Martino played in one regular-season game for the Falcons in 2014 and spent part of that season on the active roster before moving to the practice squad. He made a sensational catch for the Eagles in last summer's preseason game at the Jets and then was on the Eagles' practice squad all year. He has a feel for the game. He's going to get a long look and at 6-feet, 195 pounds he has good size. 

Seantavius Jones, first season

Who is Seantavius Jones? He was with New Orleans for a couple of seasons and actually played in three games last year. He's 6 feet 3 and 200 pounds. He was a standout at Valdosta State. Otherwise ...

Greg Lewis knows about him more than a little bit, having coached Jones last year with the Saints. Jones is going to know what Lewis wants, which, in theory, gives him an early leg up on the competition.

Xavier Rush, rookie season

Another big receiver at 6-3, 202 pounds, Xavier Rush is an interesting story. He caught 99 passes and scored 12 touchdowns at Tulane and then tore his anterior cruciate ligament in October of his senior season, in 2014. In that senior year, Rush had 15 catches for 295 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 19.7 yards per catch before the injury.

Last year was a rehab year for Rush, who is now totally healthy and like everyone in this group, looking to prove he can excel at the NFL level.

That's the thing about the wide receivers on the roster. Only Matthews, in two seasons, has posted consistently big numbers. But he pushes himself so hard and that always feels he has something to prove. No doubt that's the theme of the receivers room, which has gained some legitimacy and some potency by adding Givens and Randle in the last week.

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