SENIOR BOWL: Receivers to Watch

Ed Kracz

It’s rather clear what the Eagles needs are this offseason, and it doesn’t matter the position.

What they need is speed, more speed and more speed.

Specifically, they need speed at wide receiver and cornerback.

With the Senior Bowl in full swing in Mobile, Ala., this week will be spent looking at certain position groups the Eagles may be viewing. 

In this installment, the receiver group will be analyzed.

It should be noted that some of the “name” receivers who could go in the first two or three rounds are not in Mobile, players such as Penn State’s K.J. Hamler, LSU’s Justin Jefferson, Clemson’s Tee Higgins, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, Minnesota’s Tyler Johnson, and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t others who could go in the those first three rounds.

It is a loaded position heading into the NFL Draft from April 23-25.

Here are some to keep an eye on when the Senior Bowl is played Saturday (2:30 eastern) and televised by The NFL Network:

NORTH SQUAD

Denzel Mims, 6-3, 215, Baylor. A former track and field standout, Mims is one of the most explosive athletes in college football and has good strength. In basically three years, he had 186 catches for 2,925 yards and 28 touchdowns (he had just four of those catches for 24 yards as a freshman).

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said he may re-evaluate his position of looking solely at college production, but Mims’ numbers are hard to ignore.

One scouting report said Mims has an “incredible catch radius” and his “ceiling is easily one of the highest in the class.”

K.J. Hill, 6-0, 200, Ohio State. Has been compared to Julian Edelman. May not be the fastest player in the draft or had the most production as a senior, but Hill comes from a program that has produced some receivers of late, including this year’s standout rookie, Terry McLaurin, of the Washington Redskins.

Some scouts say Hill cold be the steal of the draft.

Hill's senior year numbers don’t flash, and maybe that’s fine by Roseman, with 51 catches for 569 yards and 10 touchdowns, but in four seasons in Columbus, he made 195 catches for 2,003 yards and 20 TDs.

Chase Claypool, 6-4, 228, Notre Dame. His 40-time at the Combine will be key to how high Claypool gets drafted. He is projected to run a 4.5, and if he does, it will be hard to ignore the combination of speed and size.

Claypool excelled at picking up good yards after the catch and ended his senior season with 66 receptions for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Antonio Gandy-Golden, 6-4, 220, Liberty. Perhaps someone for Roseman to look at in the third or fourth round of the draft. Speed is a concern, but production isn’t, with 79 catches for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior. He could present a real size mismatch in the NFL.

Others: Michael Pittman, USC, Quarteny Davis, Texas A&M, James Proche, SMU.

SOUTH SQUAD

Van Jefferson, 6-2, 195, Florida. Was one of the fastest players on Tuesday's first day of practice, according to some who were there.

Roseman has an affinity for players from Florida since he did his undergraduate work there, so keep an especially close eye on Jefferson, who not only his fast but has size and considered a strong route runner.

Two scouting reports, however, say that Jefferson may be “limited athletically” and “maxed-out” in terms of his ceiling, plus he will turn 24 before the 2020 season begins.

Devin Duvernay, 5-11, 210, Texas. A top-tier speed player who is considered a fantastic deep threat, plus he is good after the catch. He could also be utilized on jet sweeps and the little flip passes Eagles head coach Doug Pederson liked to run with Boston Scott and Greg Ward to an extent.

With all that speed, however, Duvernay tries to simply outrun defenders, so he would need to refine his route running and the technical part of his game.

Brandon Aiyuk, 6-1, 206, Arizona State. Caught 65 passes for 1,192 yards with eight touchdowns as a senior. He could be a fast-riser as the offseason evaluation period goes along, but he is projected to run a 4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February.

Kalija Lipscomb, 6-1, 200, Vanderbilt. The school that produced former Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews, who, by the way, is going to the Super Bowl with the 49ers, could be a sleeper pick on the third day of the draft for Roseman to build depth, assuming the Eagles will take a pick on the first or second day.

The production wasn’t there as a senior, but, again, that might not matter to Roseman as much as it did in previous years.

Lipscomb had 43 catches for 468 yards and two scores, though he did do better in 2018 with 87 receptions for 916 yards and nine touchdowns. He has some quickness, but not flat-out burner speed.

Others: Collin Johnson, Texas, Jauan Jennings, Tennessee, Austin Mack, Ohio State

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