By Dylan MacKinnon
Since 2016 the Eagles have drafted 7 WRs. Two in the first round, one in the second, and four on day 3 of the draft. And yet, WR is still a need. Howie keeps chucking darts at the dart board, and not only was he scoring low, half the darts missed the board entirely leaving ugly holes in the wall.
Last year he finally hit the board when he took Devonta Smith. Smith is primed to be a star. But he is one man. So once again we find ourselves in a off season where WR is a need. Let’s take a deeper look at how much of a need it is, and what they can do about it.
Devonta a Star in the Making
Smith was great his rookie year. With 916 yards, he broke Desean Jackson’s rookie record for the Eagles. Some will dismiss that because Smith played an extra game. But the truth is Smith accomplished that with less targets.
When Desean set the record, he was playing with McNabb in a pass first offense. Jackson was targeted 120 times. Smith on the other hand played in a run first offense, with Jalen Hurts at QB. And while Hurts was very good on the ground, his passing ability was inconsistent at best this season. Smith was targeted 104 times. And the difference in targets is not because of a superior performance by Jackson. They each had about a 21% target share. There was just fewer targets for Smith to have a share of.
The point is, Smith was phenomenal. And he will only get better. Smith made multiple toe tap Td catches. He is a star in the making.
Most deep targets 20+ yards downfield without a drop this season— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) February 20, 2022
🦅 DeVonta Smith - 34 pic.twitter.com/UwfilPfmk8
Not Much After Him
The issue, is the other WRs on the team. Let’s start with Quez Watkins. If Watkins was your 4th best option, you might be in good shape. He had several big plays, has good speed, and mostly reliable hands. But he just is not consistent enough to be your WR2. His production per snap is right in line with what most teams QB3 or QB4 should give you.
After him, it gets bleak. Jalen Reagor is a former first round pick, giving you nothing on offense. He regressed from his underwhelming rookie year to be even less productive. His yards per catch, yards per game, first down catches, total yards, among several other stats, were all down, despite a larger role in the offense. Can he turn it around? Maybe. But I see nothing that suggests he will. And then there is JJ Arcega Whiteside. In 3 years he went from a 2nd round pick, to being someone who only comes in as an extra blocker.
The Eagles currently have two reliable pass catchers, Smith and Dallas Goedert, and then one okay option in Watkins. After that, there is nothing. The Eagles can not go into the season hoping Reagor magically becomes even a passable WR. He should have to scratch and claw his way to even having a role in the offense next year. The Eagles need a another WR, who can compliment Smith, and lets Watkins fill the role of the 4th option in the passing game.
What Their Options Are
The Eagles have cap space, and they have a lot of draft picks. But they also have many other needs. But, a true WR2 is arguably the largest of those needs. We do not know if Hurts can be the QB of the future, but getting him more help can’t hurt. With that said, spending another high pick on a WR is not ideal. Their best options are to either sign someone in free agency, or use one of those high picks to trade for an established WR. There will be WRs in the draft, but they have used way too many picks on WRs recently, with poor results to go down that path again. But it would hard to argue with them taking a player like Treylon Burks.
In terms of free agents available, check out this article by Connor Thomas.
They need to do something. We can not have another year where Jalen Reagor is getting significant snaps. If they are going to give Jalen Hurts a chance to be the franchise QB, he will need help. Whether that is a free agent they sign, or a rookie they draft, they need one more guy.
Smith, Goedert, Watkins, and someone they add would actually be a pretty formidable group of pass catchers. But if I have to see Jalen Reagor and JJ Arcega Whiteside get more snaps I will lose my mind.