Friday, April 4, 2014

Where does D-Jax's departure leave the Eagles?

April 5, 2014

By Greg Frank

Say what you want about the decision made by the Eagles to release DeSean Jackson, there’s no denying he was an explosive playmaker in the Eagles’ offense. While the Eagles re-signed wide receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, they now lack that explosive vertical threat in the passing game that Jackson provided. 

With Jackson now residing elsewhere in the division with the Redskins, twice a year the Eagles may have a constant reminder of the vertical threat that he is.  

So what now?

The Eagles certainly could use another wide receiver, preferably a speed guy and a deep threat that could mirror Jackson’s skill set.  But there are still some holes defensively.  They upgraded at safety with the
addition of Malcom Jenkins, but depending on if they see Nate Allen as a piece to the long term puzzle, they may want to add another safety or potentially a cornerback to sure up the secondary. More importantly though is the need for a pass rushing outside linebacker in the 3-4 who can wreak havoc in opponents backfields. 

So with a defense that could definitely be improved, the Eagles would be better off adding someone else to the secondary or an outside linebacker in the first round and then look at what wide receivers are available in the second and third rounds in a draft that has lots of depth at wide receiver. Offensively, the Eagles still have lots of playmakers.

Cooper had a breakout season last year and there’s no reason to expect a regression from him in 2014. Maclin is a possession receiver who figures to rack up lots of yards after the catch, and someone like that should work well in Chip Kelly's offense, as likes to get his playmakers in space and utilize them in a variety of different ways. Tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz figure to be heavily involved in the passing game again. Not to mention that the acquisition of Darren Sproles gives the Eagles another playmaker to the fold, and oh yeah, they have LeSean McCoy.

Granted, Chip Kelly is an offensive guy.  The appeal of someone like a Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans may entice him enough to try and move up in the first round.  Even guys like Brandin Cooks from Oregon State and USC’s Marquise Lee are appealing options and may be around at the 22nd overall pick, which would not require the Eagles to trade up.  

The addition of any of the aforementioned wide receivers would give Kelly just another weapon to play with offensively.  But the Eagles have enough in place already to score lots of points, so it’s best to take a chance on a wide receiver after the first round. 

After all, DeSean Jackson was a second round pick.  While character seemed to be a contributing factor for Jackson's release, if they can find a similar type of wide receiver in terms of production in the second round, then that would enable them to draft a defensive player first and ultimately put themselves in a better position to contend.

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