The Eagles assembled a better track team during the NFL Draft but did they really put together a better receiving corps?
Of the additions - first-rounder Jalen Reagor and later-round speedsters John Hightower and Quez Watkins, along with 29-year-old trade pickup Marquise Goodwin - only one is guaranteed to start the 2020 season on the 53-man roster.
More so if you understand the Eagles’ makeup from last season and look at a practice-squad player like Marcus Green, the last thing you need to be worrying about was him running by people.
It takes more to be a competent NFL receiver than just wheels and if you get in the projection game Philadelphia is moving forward with the assumption that DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Greg Ward will remain part of Aaron Morehead's room moving forward.
Ward excelled down the stretch last season and coach Doug Pederson brought him up unprompted on the post-draft press availability.
“I feel personally we're going to have to lean on our veteran players,” said Pederson. “We're going to have to lean on DeSean Jackson and Greg Ward, who we know has come into his own and been on our team for couple years. Guys like that.”
The rehabbing Alshon Jeffery remains the wild card and Howie Roseman has continued to pay lip service to the fact that a healthy Jeffery could still help Philadelphia. Conversely, the Eagles’ general manager acknowledged the obvious need.
“We knew we needed to get better at that position,” Roseman said. “I know I’ve talked about it in the offseason, but we really feel like we’ve added. We’ve added DeSean back, Alshon back. We need to get him healthy, get him right. Then when you look at this draft and this draft weekend, adding Marquise. Marquise is one of the fastest men in the world.”
Goodwin is also usually one of the most injured, a direct contradiction to the second bullet point of Roseman’s offseason talent-gathering mantra of ‘Is he healthy?”
The Eagles veered from their theme on Goodwin for a number reasons - his Olympic-level speed which fits the first Roseman talent-gathering narrative of, “Can he run?," a reworked contract giving Goodwin essentially the veteran minimum and the cohabitation-matrix recommendation of new senior offensive assistant Rich Scangarello, who was with Goodwin in San Francisco at one point.
“Obviously, Rich had the opportunity to be with him, and so he recommended him,” said Roseman.
Pederson is also interested in the veteran sprinter turned somewhat accomplished WR helping the younger ones make the transition.
“Marquise Goodwin (is), a veteran player who understands the game,” said the coach.
That said, if it doesn't work with Goodwin, it doesn't work and Philadelphia could easily move on.
If you ignore the white noise surrounding Jeffery and assume he’s ultimately ticketed for another city, that leaves a likely WR corps of Jackson, Arcega-Whiteside, Ward, Goodwin, and Reagor with players like Hightower and Watkins mixing in as the PS/bottom-of-the-roster alternatives instead of players like Deontay Burnett, Rob Davis, and Green.
If for some reason Jeffery does stay, you are essentially trading Reagor for Nelson Agholor.
What Morehead is able to do when it comes to the development of Hightower and Watkins and even Reagor to some extent - will have more to do with 2021 and 2022 than the COVID-19 affected 2020 campaign.
The ceiling is obviously higher with this young group but the thought that the Eagles have drastically improved their WR corps for next season will have more to do with the players they already had.
John McMullen covers the Eagles for SI.com and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every day on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, Every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio, and every weekday on ESPN 97.3 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen