Eagles Draft Guide: The Forgetting Jeremy Maclin Edition

Eighty-five receptions. 1318 yards. 10 touchdowns. Those are the numbers the Eagles will need to replace after losing Jeremy Maclin to the Kansas City Chiefs during free agency in March. A year ago, the Eagles traded up in the second round to draft Jordan Matthews, who, as a rookie, played a key role in the Eagles’ offense during the 2014 regular season. Drafting the right wide receiver is of equal or greater importance a calendar-year later for a team whose current receiving corps is littered with question marks. Personally, I believe Philadelphia may opt to select two receivers in the upcoming draft. Barring a trade up for a certain quarterback, I look for the Eagles to select a wide receiver in the first or second round. I also anticipate the team using a mid-round draft pick, such as pick 145, 156 or 195, to draft another receiver who Chip Kelly foresees complimenting Matthews, Jordan Huff, Miles Austin, and the other rookie receiver the Eagles will take in the upcoming draft. While the organization and fan base seem hopeful that Huff will progress significantly from his rookie season to his sophomore season, on-field results remain to be seen. While several Eagles fans hope the team drafts a player who possesses the ability to take the top off of defenses with vertical, straight-line speed, I tend to look at Philadelphia’s receiving corps holistically. Outside of Jordan Matthews, tight end Zach Ertz and an aging Darren Sproles are arguably the best durable pass catchers on the Eagles’ roster. Thirty-year old Brent Celek can still be somewhat of a situational threat in the middle of the field, but I look for the Eagles to continue to mainly utilize him in two tight end formations that favor a run-heavy attack. While Kelly still seemingly views Riley Cooper as somewhat of an asset, the sixth year wide receiver realistically brings little to the table outside of his value as a perimeter blocker on running plays such as outside zone and buck sweep. With little faith in the free agent acquisition of oft-injured Miles Austin and no concrete evidence to support the rumored progression of Josh Huff, I think the Eagles should value overall talent more so than looking for a specific skill when selecting a receiver early in the upcoming draft. While this year’s receiving class is thought to be deep, receivers who were once thought of as late second round or third round picks are now being viewed by some teams as late first round and early-to-mid second round picks. This likely means that if the Eagles have their eyes set on one of the top-ten ranked receivers in the upcoming draft, they may have to select him in the first round or look to trade up in the second round, like they did a year ago to land Matthews.

Let’s take a look at the wide receivers in this draft and how their skill-sets could translate in the eyes of the Eagles. The notes and projections that go along with each prospect are a mixture of scout consensus and personal observations formed from watching games or film. Players are listed alphabetically. Total receivers listed: 35

Nelson Agholor- 6’0 198 lbs.
Notes: High-motor player that is a plus route runner. Nice balance of speed and possession skills. Plus skill at separating from a defender. Disappeared at times during games during the 2014 season. Elite scramble-drill receiver. Gives effort as a run blocker. Exceptional punt returner in college. If the Eagles do indeed target a receiver with one of their first two picks, Agholor will be a prime candidate to be selected. Pac-12 connection is notable. Conveniently, Agholor is often compared by draft experts to Jeremy Maclin. Agholor has met with and has worked out for the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: Late first round

Mario Alford- 5’8 180 lbs.
Notes: Elite speed. Struggles against tough coverage, but can tear apart cornerbacks who play off coverage. Catches ball with hands. Plus ability as a pass-catcher in traffic, especially with small frame. Below average acceleration. Struggled with drops at times. An underrated option for the Eagles in the late rounds of the draft. Would project as a slot receiver only.
Projection: Sixth round

Dres Anderson- 6’1 187 lbs.
Notes: Plus ability to separate. High points the ball. Struggles against tough coverage. Below average hands. 2014 season was ended by a knee injury. Pac-12 connection is notable.
Projection: Sixth round

Kenny Bell- 6’1 197 lbs.
Notes: Plus speed. Above average acceleration. Can take the top off of defenses. High points balls. Said to be an uber-competitor. Little value as a slot threat. Release could use some work. I am bullish on Bell. While at Nebraska, Bell was at his best in big moments. Could certainly be a target for the Eagles as the draft progresses.
Projection: Fifth round

Sammie Coates- 6’1 212 lbs.
Notes: Freakishly strong and athletic for relatively small frame. High points the ball. Plus vertical route runner. Drops way too many passes and at times runs the wrong routes. Stiff at times. Raw receiver who can improve in the NFL. If he possessed softer hands, Coates would be a shoe-in as a first round pick. As it stands, Coates’s issues with drops may scare some teams away.
Projection: Third round

Chris Conley- 6’2 213 lbs.
Notes: Another receiver I am bullish on. Plus route runner who consistently catches the ball with his hands. Struggles against hard coverage. Drops too many passes. Played in run-heavy Georgia offense in college so potential is relatively unclear. While Conley should not be one of the top-tier receiving options for the Eagles in the draft, if he lasts until the fourth round, I could see Chip Kelly pulling the trigger. Conley is freakishly athletic and can contribute on special teams immediately. Conley has met with the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: Fourth round

chris conley
Chris Conley could be an interesting day-two target for the Eagles.

Amari Cooper- 6’1 211 lbs.
Notes: Highest floor of any receivers in the 2015 Draft. Targeted a ton last season at Alabama. Poor ability as a run blocker will allow defenses to favor the other side of the field in perimeter run support. Gets knocked for drops but catch-to-target ratio is well above average. Unrealistic option for the Eagles at pick 20.
Projection: Top 10 of first round

Jamison Crowder- 5’8 185 lbs.
Notes: Small wide receiver that lacks elite speed. Fast at the snap of the ball. Plus route runner. Plus run blocker for size. Struggles against tough coverage. Drops can be an issue. Willing to take hits over the middle of the field.
Projection: Sixth round

Devante Davis- 6’3 220 lbs.
Notes: Plus size for a receiver. Plus catch radius. Plus hands. Plus ability to track a deep ball. Below average athlete. Below average speed for a receiver. Struggles to separate at line of scrimmage. Could improve on ability to catch passes in traffic. Missed games during 2014 season due to wrist injury.
Projection: Sixth round

Titus Davis- 6’1 196 lbs.
Notes: Elite route runner. Excels when corners are in off coverage. High points passes. High intelligence player that can beat zone coverage. Plus ability to gain yards after the catch. Below average acceleration. Struggles against tough coverage.
Projection: Sixth round

Stefon Diggs- 6’0 195 lbs.
Notes: Excellent athlete. Plus route runner. High points the ball. Plus ability as an in-traffic pass catcher. Struggles against tough coverage. Afraid of contact. Below average run blocker. Was once a blue chip high-school recruit but never lived up to hype in college.
Projection: Fifth round

Phillip Dorsett- 5’10 185 lbs.
Notes: Elite speed and explosiveness. Primarily projects as a slot receiver in the NFL. Tends to rely on speed too much at times and will be susceptible to injuries with small frame. Misplays the ball at times. Superstar potential that the Eagles could target in the second round if they select a non-receiver in the first.
Projection: Second round

phillip dorsett
Miami’s Phillip Dorsett is one of the fastest prospects in the entire draft.

Devin Funchess- 6’4 232 lbs.
Notes: One of the bigger receivers in the draft. Plus speed for size. Tremendous red zone threat. Catches too many balls with his body. Loses too many “in between” battles for the ball. Horrific quarterback play while he was at Michigan. There seems to be little consensus amongst draft experts on how Funchess projects in the NFL. Some think he could come off the board in the first 35-40 picks of the draft. Others think he could slide into the fourth or fifth round. Personally, I think the combination of Funchess’s size and speed will make him too attractive of a prospect to slide past the third round.
Projection: Third round

Antwan Goodley- 5’10 209 lbs.
Notes: Elite vertical receiver who can take the top of a defense. Elite explosiveness. Played outside, from the slot and even a little running back during the 2014 college football season. High points passes. Has too many drops and tries to catch the ball with his body too often. Underdeveloped route runner. Considered by most to be a project once in the NFL.
Projection: Sixth round

Dorial Green-Beckham- 6’5 237 lbs.
Notes: Off-field red flags make him a risky draft pick. Tremendous frame for a receiver but can also challenge defenders vertically. Plus speed. Has best catch radius of any receiver in the draft. Surprisingly, does not often welcome contact and struggles against hard coverage. Plus hands. Most Eagles fans consider Green-Beckham a no-go for a team whose coach values high character players.
Projection: Early second round

Deontay Greenberry- 6’3 200 lbs.
Notes: Plus size. Can play on outside or from the slot. Plays too upright. Drops are a gigantic concern. Below average speed for a receiver.
Projection: Seventh round

Rashad Greene- 5’11 182 lbs.
Notes: Good at almost all wide receiver skills but great at almost nothing. Prospect with relatively high floor but relatively low ceiling. Slow in comparison to most receivers in the draft. Can play outside or from the slot. Plus hands. Thin frame. Poor run blocker. Greene was imperative for Florida State’s offense last season, but I am not sure how well his skills translate to the NFL. Greene has met with the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: Third round

Justin Hardy- 5’10 192 lbs.
Notes: Long player for relatively small frame. Plus run blocker. Played in air-raid system while at East Carolina and his route running is unpolished. Limited athleticism. Plus hands and an overall aggressive player. Slower end of the spectrum in comparison with other receivers in the draft.
Projection: Late fourth round

Chris Harper- 5’11 175 lbs.
Notes: Quick feet. Above average route runner. Above average acceleration. Plus run blocker for small frame. Could stand to add weight to wiry frame. Struggles against tough coverage. Catches too many passes with his body. Pac-12 connection is notable. Harper could be an attractive prospect for the Eagles in the last round of the draft.
Projection: Seventh round

Josh Harper- 6’1 191 lbs.
Notes: Elite acceleration. Plus hands. Smart player who understands zone coverage. Not afraid to take hits. Is not particularly fast. Needs improvement in route running and run blocking.
Projection: Sixth round

R.J. Harris- 6’0 200lbs.
Notes: Small school receiver from New Hampshire, Chip Kelly’s old stomping ground. Above average separation skills. Plus ability downfield. High points passes. Struggles at times to catch short passes. Takes too much time in his route breaks. Harris could be a underrated value pick for the Eagles on the last day of the draft. Harris has worked out for the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: Seventh round

Austin Hill- 6’3 212 lbs.
Notes: Physical receiver with large frame. Poor speed for a wide receiver. Strong with the ball after the catch and welcomes contact. Elite run blocker. Can play on the outside or from the slot. Has injury concerns from his time at Arizona. Below average ability as a vertical receiver. Hill checks a lot of boxes when it comes to what Chip Kelly seems to value in a receiver, and I could see the Eagles using a sixth or seventh round pick on him. Pac-12 connection is notable.
Projection: Seventh round

Dezmin Lewis- 6’4 214 lbs.
Notes: Small school receiver I am bullish on. Uses length when making catches. Ran well at Pro-Day. Strong for his position. Concern over level of competition while he was at Central Arkansas. Needs to improve toughness. Lewis could be a darkhorse option for the Eagles in the second day of the draft. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller believes Lewis may be this year’s version of 6’4, 211 pound Martavis Bryant, a fourth round pick in the 2014 draft who exploded during his rookie season with the Steelers.
Projection: Fourth round

Tony Lippett- 6’2 192 lbs.
Notes: Started at both wide receiver and cornerback in college. Catches ball with hands. At his best when he catches the ball underneath and works up field. Upside as a red-zone threat. Struggles hauling in passes while in traffic. Slow route breaks will allow NFL corners to jump routes. Lippett’s versatility and understanding of the game may make him an attractive option for the Eagles in the latter stages of the draft.
Projection: Fifth round

Tyler Lockett- 5’9 182 lbs.
Notes: I am bullish on Lockett. Plus potential as an NFL slot receiver. Smart, high character player. Above average at separating for his size. Plus run blocker. Struggles at times to catch the ball in traffic. If the Eagles choose to hold off until the third or fourth round to draft a wide receiver, it is likely because they view Lockett as a day-one starter in the slot. I could not turn on a Kansas State game or film without Lockett jumping off the screen at me. Lockett’s versatility is almost certainly valuable to Chip Kelly.
Projection: Early fourth round

Tyler Lockett
Tyler Lockett has the potential to be a top-tier slot receiver in the NFL.

Vince Mayle- 6’2 224 lbs.
Notes: Big play receiver with plus size. Below average speed. Plus ability against tough coverage and can overpower small corners. Raw athlete who has little football playing experience. Will be a project in the NFL. Mayle may project to be a value pick for the Eagles on the third day of the draft. Pac-12 connection is notable.
Projection: Fifth round

Tre McBride- 6’0 210 lbs.
Notes: Small school receiver with an excellent frame. Dominated opponents while the ball was in the air. Good speed. Plus ability as an in-traffic pass catcher. Tremendous hands and not afraid to take hits. Biggest concern is inability to separate. Level of competition while he was at William & Mary also a concern. Needs to improve route running. McBride’s film reminds me of a poor man’s Jaelen Strong.
Projection: Fifth round

Ty Montgomery- 6’0 221 lbs.
Notes: While not tall, Montgomery is a big receiver. Great frame. Can play from outside or in the slot. Plus run blocker. Drops are a huge issue and he often attempts to catch the ball with his body. History of fumbles also a problem. Pac-12 connection is notable.
Projection: Fourth round

DeVante Parker- 6’3 209 lbs.
Notes: The most talented receiver who has an outside shot at being available at pick 20. Great hands and runs well for his size. Absolutely dominant at times while at Louisville. Uses body to position himself while ball is in the air. Horrific run blocker who also needs to improve against hard coverage. If Parker suffers a draft-day slide, I cannot imagine the Eagles passing on him.
Projection: Middle first round

Breshad Perriman- 6’2 212 lbs.
Notes: Perhaps the most athletic pound-for-pound receiver in the draft. Elite speed. Plus separation skills. Plus run blocker. Biggest knock is unreliable hands. Struggles working back to the ball. Drops may limit his NFL potential. If he can put it all together, he can be a superstar. Personally, I think Perriman’s issues with drops will lead the Eagles to siding with a safer pick if they target a receiver in the second round. Perriman has met with the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: Early second round

Jaxon Shipley- 6’0 190 lbs.
Notes: Plus hands. Plus run blocker. Was an effective receiver at Texas despite poor quarterback play. Missed time during the 2014 season due to injury. Below average speed for a wide receiver. Probably best suited as a slot receiver against zone coverage.
Projection: Seventh round

Devin Smith- 6’0 196 lbs.
Notes: Quick at the snap of the ball. Tremendous straight line speed and is one of the best down-field threats in the draft. Has tendency to catch ball with body. Struggles against hard coverage. Was primarily a down-field threat while at Ohio State. I wish there was more film to back up Smith’s claim that he is not only a straight-line receiver. That being said, I believe Smith has as much potential as any receiver in this draft. Like Phillip Dorsett, Smith could be a target in the second round for the Eagles if another position is drafted in the first.
Projection: Middle second round

devin smith
Devin Smith’s vertical speed makes him an attractive option for the Eagles.

Jaelen Strong- 6’2 217 lbs.
Notes: Considered by many to have the best hands of any receiver in the draft. Used in slot and perimeter while at Arizona State. Uses body well and catches ball at high point. Drops occur when he catches ball with body rather than hands. Separation is a huge weakness. Not a great straight-line receiver. Pac-12 connection is notable. Strong scurried up the draft boards of many experts around the time of the combine. Lately, however, reports suggest that some teams have lowered their interest in him. Strong’s selection in the draft will affect how quickly receivers with a second-round projection will be drafted. Strong has met with the Eagles prior to the draft.
Projection: First round

Darren Waller- 6’6 238 lbs.
Notes: Middle round prospect who I am bullish on. Plays to his plus height. Perhaps the best back-shoulder receiver in the draft. Could improve as run blocker for size. Elite speed for size. Raw route runner who will improve when away from the triple-option Georgia Tech offense. Waller could be an intriguing receiving option for the Eagles in the middle rounds of the draft.
Projection: Fourth round

Kevin White- 6’3 215 lbs.
Notes: Highest ceiling of any receivers in the 2015 Draft. Tremendous frame. Elite speed but can also out-physical cornerbacks and safeties. Disappeared at times during games while at West Virginia. Plus run blocker. Unrealistic option for the Eagles at pick 20.
Projection: Top 10 of first round

Putting it all together: As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about the safeties in this draft, I strongly believe the Eagles should draft a wide receiver and a cornerback in the first two rounds of the draft. While I plan on blogging more on this topic closer to the draft, I also believe that unless the team goes all-in on trading up for Marcus Mariota, the Eagles will actually trade down in the first round. Regardless of who they draft in the first round, I also see them trading up in the second round. If the Eagles select a wide receiver with their first or second round pick, I believe their realistic targets (in order) will be: Nelson Agholor, Devin Smith, Phillip Dorsett and Breshad Perriman, though Smith and Dorsett are practically interchangeable. As I stated at the beginning of this post, the Eagles could very well select two receivers in the upcoming draft. While it’s difficult to predict when the Eagles may target their second receiver in the draft, I expect possible mid-to-late round targets to (in alphabetical order) include: Kenny Bell, Chris Conley, R.J. Harris, Austin Hill, Dezmin Lewis, Tyler Lockett, Vince Mayle, Tre McBride, Ty Montgomery and Darren Waller.

On deck: Which cornerbacks in the draft are a good fit for the Eagles’ defense?

Follow Sidelines and Headlines creator Ray Butler on Twitter: @RayButlerII

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