The current Eagles wide receiver core is the youngest the team has been at the position in a while. The team currently has no receiver over the age of 25 and no receiver with more than 2 years as a pro.
The oldest of the current group, Greg Ward, will be 26 at the start of the season.
The last time the Eagles had no receiver with no more than 3 years as a pro was 2016. Josh Huff was the eldest of that group, at 25-years old.
On the surface the youth and subsequent inexperience of the position group as a whole can be looked at as a negative, but the thing that is different about this bunch from years past is the sheer potential and skill-level of this group of receivers.
The Eagles currently have 9 receivers on the roster (via philadelphiaeagles.com):
- J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
- Jhamon Ausbon
- Travis Fulgham
- John Hightower
- Jalen Reagor
- DeVonta Smith
- Michael Walker
- Greg Ward
- Quez Watkins
The Eagles have predominantly kept 6 receivers over the last few seasons.
|Year||Number of WRs on Initial 53-Man Roster|
Of course that was under Doug Pederson. Meanwhile, during Nick Sirianni’s 3 years as Colts offensive coordinator the number of wide receivers on the 53-man roster were 5 (2018), 6 (2019), and 6 (2020).
As training camp nears, there are likely 3 main locks to make the roster:
- DeVonta Smith
- Jalen Reagor
- Travis Fulgham
Rookie DeVonta Smith gives the Eagles wide receiver room something they haven’t had in a very long time: a true route technician. Smith legitimately has game changing ability.
Second year man, Jalen Reagor showed glimpses of the player drafted in the 1st round of the 2020 draft, during his injury plagued rookie year. With better health, improved usage, and a year under his belt in an NFL system Reagor can be expected to take a leap in Nick Sirianni’s offense.
“I think he’s calmer. He’s just letting his play speak for itself,” Eagles Wide Receivers Coach, Aaron Moorehead said on Reagor.
“He’s always been a good worker. He’s got a lot of talent, we know that.”
Travis Fulgham will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the offseason staff and roster changes. Of course, everyone is aware of the 4 game stretch in which Fulgham was the most productive receiver in the NFL, but the main question that arose surrounding Fulgham was whether or not that stretch was simply a flash in the pan or is it who Fulgham truly is as an NFL wide receiver.
The answer likely falls somewhere in between.
After those 3 players, it gets interesting.
Ausbon and Walker will likely be practice squad candidates.
That means Ward, Watkins, Hightower, and Arcega-Whiteside will likely battle for 2-3 roster spots.
As stated above, Greg Ward is the veteran of the group at just 25 years old. Ward is a receiver that’s always found a way to stick around on the roster. He’s a reliable and sure-handed target out of the slot. Ward also has established chemistry with starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, which will likely go into the roster decisions when evaluating the wide receiver room.
Quez Watkins fits the bill of a receiver that Nick Sirianni would be ecstatic to have at his disposal within his offense. He’s lightning fast with the ball in his hands, excels in space, and can be used in a number of ways (end arounds, WR screens, etc.). Watkins sample size was extremely small as he played in only 6 games and amassed 106 receiving yards on 7 catches along with a touchdown against the Cardinals.
John Hightower was referenced as the best route runner on the Eagles roster (before the selection of DeVonta Smith) by former Eagles wide receiver, Jason Avant earlier this offseason.
Hightower reportedly had a strong rookie camp last year, but that was with the former staff. He showed flashes of being a solid rotational piece in the receiving core down the line. Hightower undoubtedly has talent but the main knock on him (besides inconsistent hands) is his age. Hightower was a 24-year old rookie and turned 25 in May.
It’s no stretch to say that the J.J. Arcega-Whiteside experience has not yielded the results the Eagles brass had hoped for when the decision was made to select him 57th overall in the 2nd round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Arcega-Whiteside’s size and contested catch ability is likely the only pathway he has to making the 53 man roster. This is truly a make or break training camp for Arcega-Whiteside.
“There’s young energy,” Aaron Moorehead said on the WR room. “That’s the thing I tell them. We have to have energy.”
“It can’t be the old grumpy, the O-line guys are older, they’ll be grumpy walking around here, we have to be the young energy of the offensive room. When we’re walking around, it’s smiles, it’s juice all day,” Moorehead continued.
With established continuity through Aaron Moorehead captaining the position for a second straight year, it allows for consistency and growth to materialize and manifest itself on the field.
This is the most talented wide receiver room the Eagles have had in a while. And while there is a ton of potential throughout the position group, it’ll ultimately come down to the players on the field proving it.
Mandatory Cover Image Credit: AP