The Eagles have a pass-catching problem — or at least they used to, hopefully. What was the worst collective group of wideouts in the NFL last season has improved in numerous ways. And that couldn’t be better news for second-year quarterback Carson Wentz.
The Eagles depth chart at wide receiver last season:
1. Jordan Matthews
2. Nelson Agholor
3. Dorial Green-Beckham
4. Paul Turner
5. Bryce Treggs
(We won’t include Josh Huff, who was cut from the team after a gun-related arrest on the Ben Franklin Bridge.)
The Eagles depth chart as of right now, after 2017’s NFL draft and free agency:
1. Alshon Jeffery
2. Torrey Smith
3. Jordan Mathews
4. Mack Hollins (118th pick)
5. Whoever wins a battle for the last spot between Agholor, Green-Beckham and Shelton Gibson (166th pick).
“First, we’re trying to build competition,” Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman said. “That’s going to make everyone better. We’re not looking at numbers. We’re not worried about what’s going to happen in August. A lot is going to happen between now and August. The best situation we could have is have a lot of good players at a particular position. We’ve talked about that with the offensive line, for example.”
The Eagles made a few moves over the last couple months to position their wide receivers — and therefore Wentz — in a much better situation both short and long term.
The contracts reached with Jeffery (one year, $9.5 million) and Smith (three years, $15 million with no cap hit after first year) set the Birds up with a short term explosive force for Wentz to throw to. Their decision to draft Hollins and Gibson on the draft’s third day gives the veteran wideouts some talent to mentor.
Jeffery, a big red zone threat himself, will be watched closely by the 6-foot-4 Hollins, who is a huge target for Wentz. And just like Smith, Gibson has elite speed and can spread the field. This all allows last year’s No. 1 wideout Matthews to return to the place he likes the most — the slot — and the Eagles have a pretty potent wideout room.
“He can run, [he’s a] physical receiver, can go up and get the football, and then he brings a lot to the table other than that, as well,” Roseman said of Hollins, who is also particulatly adept at playing special teams.
“Shelton Gibson … he can take the top off,” Roseman continued on the Birds’ other rookie pass catcher. “You can see he gets separation. He can get vertical, and for us he was the best player on the board.”
The Eagles offense is better today, and it will be better for the coming season because of the short- and long-term decisions Roseman, Joe Douglas and the rest of the front office have made since free agency began in March.
And with Wentz fresh off setting a bunch of Eagles and NFL rookie records with one of the most futile groups of weapons Philly has ever assembled in 2016, he will be chomping at the bit to toss the ball around with his new toys in 2017.