Alex Kielar | May 25th, 2020
The Philadelphia Eagles severely needed to upgrade their wide receiver corp going into the NFL Draft after Carson Wentz was throwing to nobodies and guys with butter over their hands all season last year. They definitely did that and more, focusing on speed, speed, and more speed, which plays very well to the strong arm of Wentz. They drafted three receivers and traded for Marquise Goodwin from San Francisco. Let’s dive deeper into the new additions and what the wide receiver depth chart could look like heading into the season.
Jalen Reagor (First Round Draft Pick)
This pick baffled me a little bit at first, as Justin Jefferson was available, but it makes perfect sense after the fact. Jefferson is a great receiver and can make a lot of great catches, but he doesn’t fit the type of receiver the Eagles need. He doesn’t have much speed and is basically another Alshon Jeffery, and speed plays better with the offense. Reagor ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the combine, but his game speed is much faster than that at 20.80 MPH, which is the second-fastest of the 2020 Draft class behind Henry Ruggs; he clocked an unofficial 4.22 time before the combine. Reagor played in 39 games over three years at TCU, while putting up 148 catches for 2,248 and 22 touchdowns, and rushing for 324 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 15.2 yards per reception and 9.3 yards per rush.
John Hightower (Fifth Round Draft Pick)
Hightower is another receiver whose calling card is speed, and he is a former high school track star. He ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine, which was the same time first-round draft pick Justin Jefferson ran. Over two years at Boise State, Hightower ended up excelling on the field after two years of running track at Hinds Community College in Mississippi. He hauled in 31 catches for 509 yards and seven touchdowns over the two years and was a second-team All-Mountain West selection in 2019. He put up 51 catches for 953 yards, with 18.5 yards per catch and eight touchdowns.
Hightower contributed to the run game on sweeps, running 16 times for 154 yards and was the primary kick returner, with 639 yards and one touchdown on 26 returns. He is a little on the smaller side at just 189 pounds, which leaves something to be desired on 50/50 balls and tracking ability. But he has great burst and acceleration, so once he can fill out more he will be a big threat on deep balls and YAC/RAC.
Marquise Goodwin (Trade with 49ers)
The Eagles were able to get Goodwin for cheap, basically just swapping sixth-round picks with the 49ers, as injuries are a concern with him. He missed 12 games over the last two years. The Eagles were also able to lower his salary from $3,950,000 to $1,350,000, with the potential for incentives. He suffered ankle and knee injuries last season, while he suffered five concussions in a 17-month span from 2016 to 2017. Other than the injuries, Goodwin is a solid speedy receiver when he is on the field; he ran a 4.27 40-time at the 2013 NFL Combine.
With the wear and tear on his body, he probably won’t be able to give as much as he did in better years like when he put up 56 catches for 962 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. But he can still fill a backup insurance type role to DeSean Jackson and can fill in whenever he is needed. He can be used as a low-target receiver but still force defenses to respect his speed and give more openings to the higher target guys.
Quez Watkins (Sixth Round Pick)
Watkins ran the third-fastest 40-time at the combine this year at 4.35 and has a playing speed around the same as that. He was a steal so late in the draft and probably would have been selected sooner if not for the deep receiver class this year. Watkins is another receiver who has blazing speed but is not very physical and struggles with 50-50 balls. He can easily get behind the defense and break it to the endzone.
Watkins turned it on his sophomore year, as he caught three touchdowns and returned a punt 81 yards for another score. He finished that year with nine touchdowns, 72 catches, and 889 yards, while last season he had 64 catches for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns.
The Eagles will basically be calling Hail Mary Trips on every play with these receivers and throw it to the guy who isn’t double or triple-teamed. Now it’s time to look at what the wide receiver depth chart could look like when the season rolls around. This will probably change when we get closer and my Eagles season preview comes out.
|Jalen Reagor||JJ Arcega-Whiteside||Alshon Jeffery||Robert Davis|
|DeSean Jackson||Marquise Goodwin||Quez Watkins||Shelton Gibson|
|John Hightower||Greg Ward||Deontay Burnett||Khalil Tate|
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images