Last year the Eagles wide receiver core was as bad as it gets at the NFL level. A group led by Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, and Dorial Green-Beckham wasn’t going to cut it in the city of brotherly love. So this past offseason Howie Roseman and the rest of the front office made it a top priority to upgrade the position and give quarterback Carson Wentz as many weapons as possible. The Eagles achieved this goal by adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency and Mack Hollins in the draft.
The Jeffery signing was a huge move for the Eagles. The team badly needed wide receiver help and signed the best one to hit the free agent market in the past couple of seasons. One way Jeffery will help in a big way is in the red zone. Coming in at 6’3, Jeffery can go up and get jump balls over almost every corner back. By also adding a power runner like LeGarrette Blount, the Eagles could have a dynamic duo in the red zone in 2017. Also by signing a one-year deal, Jeffery is going to be very motivated this year as he looks to cash in on that big pay day next off-season. It’s been a while since the Eagles have had a true number one receiver and now with Jeffery that is exactly what they have.
What seemed like to be a smaller move at the time, may work out perfectly for the Eagles, and that is the signing of veteran Torrey Smith. A lot of people forget that only a couple seasons ago Smith was a dominant receiver for the Ravens. He is second in career yards per reception among active players. The Smith signing was low-risk, high reward type deal as he is only due $500,000 of guaranteed money. If he struggles the Eagles can just let him go for basically nothing, but if he regains his form he had with the Ravens he could help make the Eagles have one of the top wide receiver groups in the league.
While he struggled for parts of last season as a number one receiver, look for Jordan Matthews to have a bounce back year. Matthews will most likely line up in the slot, a position where he has been one of the most productive in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, since 2014 Jordan Matthews has the most receiving yards from the slot in the NFL with 2,389. That’s more yards then players like Randall Cobb and Jarvis Landry. It has been brought up throughout this off season that Matthews may possibly be traded, but him and Wentz have excellent chemistry and good have a good connection this season.
This upcoming season may be the final chance for former first-round pick Nelson Agholor to prove himself. Last year Agholor had an abysmal season including not even being active for the Monday night game against the Packers in November. This year though, it seems like Agholor has found his confidence again and is returning to the skill level he played with in college at USC. This spring and summer Agholor has gotten very high praise from his teammates, coaches, and reporters. After practice yesterday, Matt Lombardo of NJ.com said, “Nelson Agholor was arguably the best and most improved player on the field during OTAs and mini-camp this spring, but his best practice of training camp came on Wednesday morning. On the final play of the practice, Agholor got behind rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas, Carson Wentz despite throwing off his back-foot unfurled a perfectly thrown pass hitting Agholor in stride for a 37-yard touchdown. It was plays like that which have showcased Agholor’s smooth route running as well as newfound confidence that have typified the third-year wide receiver’s offseason.” If Agholor can carry his training camp success into the regular season, he gives Wentz another dynamic option on the outside.
Figuring that the Eagles now have depth at wide reciever it is likely that they keep six wide receivers on the roster. Rookie Mack Hollins is just about a sure thing to make the team, so that means the final spot will come down to either Marcus Johnson or rookie Shelton Gibson. So far in camp Johnson has been impressing while Gibson has been doing the complete opposite. At this point it looks likely that Johnson will get that sixth spot, while Gibson may be headed to the practice squad.