The Eagles wide receiver group has changed a lot in the past few years. DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant were released, Jeremy Maclin signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, and more recently, Riley Cooper was also released. That leaves a trio of young players; Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Nelson Agholor as the core group. Now, this trio has had its struggles as of late, and last year, amid drops and bad throws, no Eagles receiver reached 1000 receiving yards. Jordan Matthews came close (997 yards) but dropped several key throws in different games during the season. Josh Huff is full of potential that occasionally flashes, but is unable to stay consistent. And Nelson Agholor, the Eagles first pick in the 2015 draft, fought injuries, and more drops then Matthews, on the way to a disappointing rookie season in which he only had 283 yards and one touchdown. Can this group fix their problems and emerge as a dangerous trio for years to come? It’s something the Eagles need to figure out.
It is my personal belief that Jordan Matthews does have the ability to be a legit #1 receiver. He’s got the work ethic, desire to be the best he can be, and the talent to accomplish this. Per rotoworld, Matthews played over 95% of his snaps in the slot under Chip Kelly. Chip liked to use Matthews size (6’3” 212) and speed to create mismatches against smaller slot corners or linebackers. However, Jordan Matthews is built to play on the outside and he’s finally going to get the chance to do so. Playing on the outside, assuming he can make the switch (I think he can) will seriously boost Matthews stats, and should allow him to break 1000-yards for the first time. In his career, Matthews has played in all 32 possible games and accumulated 152 receptions off 232 targets, for 1,869 yards (and average of 12.3) and 16 touchdowns. Not bad for his first two years. Personally, I believe that at the end of his career Jordan Matthews will be the franchise’s all time leader in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns.
Moving on to Josh Huff, I seriously have no idea what the coaching staff was doing with him. At 5’11” and 206 lbs, Huff is made for the slot. He’s fast, hard to tackle, and can get yards after the catch. Putting him in the slot will mean he’s covered more by corner’s his size. Just put him in the slot and let him work. I’d be willing to bet that his numbers would shoot up, and he’d finally be able to reach in his potential. Last year, Huff accumulated 312-yards and three touchdowns. He made some great catches, including his first touchdown against the Saints. Huff is no doubt the speediest receiver on the team, and once he has the ball in his hands, he has a natural gift at avoiding tackles and making defenses regret letting him catch the ball. I think no matter what happens, this is a make or break year for Huff. If he can reach his potential, then he can be a very, very dangerous playmaker. Hopefully a change in coaching staff will let him grow, and be the playmaker I know he can be.
Nelson Agholor has perhaps more pressure on him than any other player on the team. The teams 2015 first round pick, injuries and a team wide case of the drops plagued Agholor in his rookie season. Still though, he flashed potential and playmaking ability, even if his stats aren’t what you’d hope for from the 20th overall pick. But no, Agholor isn’t a bust, and it’s more than likely his number will improve vastly in the coming seasons. First off, he’s a hell of a route runner. His motions are crisp and smooth, and he’s capable of making space when he needs it. Another thing, while it may not seem like it, he’s got good hands. While he did have several key drops which certainly should have been caught, he also made some incredible catches (See his one handed catch against the Redskins). Agholor may not be the Dez Bryant or Odell Beckham that fans were hoping for, but he has talent. Give him time and he’ll prove it to everyone.
In Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Nelson Agholor the Eagles have a trio of young receivers who can pretty much do it all. While there may not be a true standout, number one guy, I believe that the trio offers more versatility and together will prove to be a bigger threat than any one man. Double cover one guy, and the other two will may you pay. They have a good fix of size, speed, and ability, and I think that this season will be a breakout season for them. The work ethic and desire is there, and now they need to step on the field and prove the naysayers wrong. Hopefully they can do that.