What Is The Potential Of The Eagles Young Wide Receivers?
The Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receivers led the NFL in Drops Percentage per Target for the 2015 season which punctuates the issue of diminishing returns from the Receiving Corps over the last couple seasons. But what if I told you the 2016 Eagles roster had three Wide Receivers who did the following in college:
-Player A led the SEC in Receptions in 2012 (94) and in 2013 (112) while also having the most Receiving Yards in the SEC in 2013 (1,477)
-Player B led the SEC in 2013 with 12 Receiving Touchdowns and he stands at 6'5" while running a 40-yard dash in 4.49 Seconds at NFL Draft Combine
-Player C had 104 Receptions, 1,313 Receiving Yards and 12 Touchdown catches in 2014 while playing in the PAC-12
While all those statistics look great, Player A was Jordan Matthews while Player B is Dorial Green-Beckham and Player C is Nelson Agholor. So what happened to these guys who played well in college that their talent has not translated to the NFL?
-Jordan Matthews has been productive in his first 2 seasons in the NFL snagging 8 Touchdown Receptions each of his two seasons and last season he compiled 85 catches. But Matthews had 5 dropped passes in 2015 and 6 drops in 2014; his percentage of dropped passes per target is among the 20 worst Wide Receivers in the NFL with minimum of 40 catches each season.
I could argue Matthews can be a good NFL Wide Receiver but he was not a fit in Chip Kelly's offense that is dependent on explosive play-makers. In Doug Pederson's offense, Matthews can be a guy that moves the chains on 3rd Down and can excel as a Slot Receiver. Matthews may never be a Number One caliber Wide Receiver but he can develop into a very good Number Two option with his productivity.
-Dorial Green-Beckham in 2013 was one of the most explosive play-makers in College Football; he has all the physical intangibles to be a high level Wide Receiver in the NFL. But off the field legal issues piled up and led to his dismissal from the University of Missouri; his talent still led him to be a 2nd round pick in the NFL Draft. In his rookie season he was among the top five NFL Rookie Wide Receivers in Receiving Yards (549) and Touchdown Catches (4) so compared to his draft class he was productive.
Biggest issue for Dorial Green-Beckham in his rookie season was he was playing on a team that fired their Head Coach halfway through the season while playing with a Rookie Quarterback who is also learning how to play in the NFL. The situation DGB played in last season was not conducive for a young player to grow and learn how to play in the NFL. Now with the Eagles he is on a team with a stable Head Coaching situation, a Quarterback with years of NFL experience, and he can develop without the pressure of being a team's 2nd round draft pick.
-Nelson Agholor had one of the most disappointing seasons for a Wide Receiver drafted in the 1st Round of the NFL draft in recent years. Some people point to a lingering ankle injury that plagued his performance on the field; others say Agholor had issues learning Chip Kelly's offense and that too much was asked of him from Day One. Whatever the issue was, Agholor went from having 104 Catches and 12 Touchdowns at USC in 2014 to 23 Catches and 1 Touchdown in 2015. The numbers say he was unable to do anything right in 2015.
Agholor is being given the opportunity in 2016 to show he was worth being a 1st round pick and being given the chance by Eagles to play. Whether the issue is self-confidence or he is having trouble getting separation from defenders, he is a guy of the trio of young Wide Receivers that has the lowest expectations at this point. His college statistics made by the product of being in an offense that perfectly compliments him and in the NFL he may not be able to be more than a team's 3rd or 4th Wide-Out.
The play of the Eagles Wide Receiving Corps has been underwhelming as a group but Matthews, Green-Beckham, and Agholor all have potential, question is can they play up to the hopes and expectations? So far Matthews has shown he can be productive, 2016 is time for Dorial and Nelson to step up and show they belong in the NFL.