Eagles Position Examination: Receivers (Jalen Reagor the Key)

There is plenty of inventory at this spot, but is there a true No. 1?
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Twice in the past two drafts, the Eagles have spent heavily on wide receivers.

Now, there’s a groundswell for them to do it again in the spring.

It is a movement that wouldn’t exist had general manager Howie Roseman and his staff got it right in previous drafts, and maybe they have. A lot of that will depend on Nick Sirianni and his staff and what they can do with the four WRs the Eagles have drafted in the last two years.

Maybe Roseman adds a few more to the mix, which is a very likely scenario.

There is already plenty of inventory on hand at the position, so let’s take a look in part three of our examination of each position on the Eagles.

The first two parts focused on quarterbacks and running backs.

READ MORE ON QBs: Eagles Position Examination: Quarterback (It Starts with ...

READ MORE ON RBs: Eagles Position Examination: Running Backs (Miles Sanders ...

The receiver group is a major concern going forward.

For the second consecutive season, no Eagles WR had more than 540 yards receiving with Travis Fulgham, who wasn't even in Philadelphia until Week 4, topping the unit with 539 yards, a dismal reality in an offensive-minded league.

The question that needs to be answered: Is there a true No. 1 WR on the roster?

DEPTH CHART

WR 1: Jalen Reagor. The first-round pick from 2020 struggled with injury and answered the bell for just 11 games then departing early in the season finale with an injury. He is the linchpin of the group, and Sirianni needs to find a way to use him properly. As a rookie, he made 31 catches for 396 yards and a touchdown with another punt return TD tacked on.

WR 2: Travis Fulgham. Got off to a hot start then wasn’t heard from much after his first four games. Sirianni has to decide if that was due to some of the shortcomings in his game or if the previous regime just didn’t use him the right way.

WR 3: Greg Ward. He was one of the top receivers on third down in the league and became one of the leaders in the room.

Others in mix:

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins.

Perhaps this group will benefit from Sirianni’s offense as well as the return of WR coach Aaron Morehead, who becomes the first repeat coach in that position in at least five years.

Gone: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Marquis Goodwin.

Note: There doesn’t appear to be a No. 1 pass-catcher in the group, though the hope is Sirianni and his staff will develop one and the odds-on favorite would be Reagor. Still, it would not be a surprise if the Eagles draft one in the spring.

FREE AGENTS

There were plenty of free agents last year that could have helped the Eagles, but general manager Howie Roseman never as much as nibbled at any of them, opting instead to trade for Goodwin (who opted out due to COVID-19) and draft three more.

If Roseman wants a veteran to bring some experience to a very young group, they are available, from A.J. Green to T.Y Hilton, but the Eagles have said they want to get younger – again. 

Trouble is the good, under-30 group of WRs in the marketplace, such as Allen Robinson, Curtis Samuel, J.J. Smith-Schuster, and Corey Davis, to name just a few, will come with a price tag that the Eagles aren’t expected to be able to afford given their dire salary cap situation.

Cleveland's Rashard Higgins might fit into the budget, though even his projected market value of $6.1 million may be too steep.

So, maybe an under-the-radar signing like New England’s Damiere Byrd or Chris Conley could draw some interest, as could others.

DRAFT

DeVonta Smith is the name heard most as being the Eagles’ sixth pick, which would be the second straight year the Eagles will have taken a receiver.

Drafting sixth should open the door to the kind of player who can become a future Hall of Fame player, and Smith's build is a longevity concern, with pencil-thin legs and ankles and weight a reported at 164 pounds. The official number will be known at Alabama’s pro day this spring after Smith declined to be weighed at the Senior Bowl.

Ja’Marr Chase is bigger and thicker but is going to likely be the first WR off the board and gone by No. 6, though the Dolphins, ticketed to take a WR, could choose to reunite Smith and their quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.

’Bama’s Jaylen Waddle could also be in play.

Considered a deep class at this position, the Eagles could wait until the second or third round to take a pass-catcher, and some in that range could include Ole Miss’s Elijah Moore, Wake Forest’s Sage Surratt, Florida’s Trevon Grimes, and Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman, among others.

TRADE

Any help for this group is likely to come via the draft and maybe in the bargain bin of free agency.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.