MOBILE, Ala. -- The offseason mantra for the Eagles is very clear, and it is repeated often: Surround quarterback Carson Wentz with the right pieces. Make Wentz, who was so very impressive in his rookie season, the best he can be in Year 2 and beyond. What that means, exactly, remains to be seen, but it no doubt includes making the wide receiver positions more productive.
It's no secret that the Eagles didn't get enough from the wide receivers in 2016. Jordan Matthews worked hard and caught 73 passes, but he scored only three touchdowns as he battled an ankle injury late in the year. Nelson Agholor, the team's first-round draft pick in 2015, didn't take the hoped-for step forward and produced 36 catches, 365 yards, and two touchdowns. Dorial Green-Beckham, acquired in a late-summer trade with Tennessee in exchange for backup offensive lineman Dennis Kelly, contributed 36 receptions, 392 yards, and two scores.
Neither Rueben Randle nor Chris Givens, signed to one-year, low-risk, hope-for-reward contracts late in free agency, made it out of the preseason. Rookie receivers Paul Turner and Bryce Treggs showed they were still a ways away from contributing at a high level in the NFL, if at all.
So the Eagles enter this offseason knowing that, as they add pieces around Wentz both on offense and, truthfully, on defense, wide receiver is also on the want-to-improve menu. Some of that improvement has to come from within with new wide receivers coach Mike Groh overseeing the position. It's certainly also likely that, in some way, shape, or form, the Eagles add some significant pieces.
Again, how they do it remains one of the offseason's great stories to follow. Free agency, the draft, trades … isn't everything on the table for the Eagles?
Howie Roseman was asked about drafting wide receivers at the Senior Bowl this week, and he offered a cautionary tale for anyone expecting a rookie to come in and transform the position.
"The way offenses are in college football and the way defenses are run, I mean, there's not a lot of press coverage. It's a matchup-drive league in college football. Typically, if your best receiver is on their third-best corner, that third corner is probably not playing in the National Football League," Roseman said. "The quality of competition matters for the receivers. The different coverages, the routes, the quality of competition, it's a whole different ballgame in the NFL.
and Trey Burton as much on the outside as any tight ends in the league. Their versatility paid off for an offense that lacked game-breaking weapons in the passing game and in the running game.
It's not just the wide receivers who are a target area to improve. The Eagles need help in every phase of the roster to get to where they want in 2017 and beyond. This is going to be a step-by-step process, and it's not going to be an easy one.
But the draft is the talk at the Senior Bowl and the Eagles need to maximize their selections.
"It's a good draft," vice president of personnel Joe Douglas said. "It's a good, deep draft."
Hopefully, the Eagles can get their hands on some of that talent, and maybe even at the wide receiver position. To think that a rookie is going to come in and change the game, though, may be a far-fetched idea. History, the 2014 draft aside, says that doesn't happen very often in the NFL.