Eagles Depth Chart: Wide Receivers
The next positional preview for the Philadelphia Eagles depth chart is the wide receiver group. Receivers have only become more and more important in the NFL over the years. The amount of talent in the league at receiver is astonishing when you go down the list of teams. Just about every team in the NFL has at least one star receiver, if not multiple. With the rules changing and offenses evolving, the play of receivers in an offense is paramount. If nobody can get open, it makes the quarterback’s job infinitely harder and makes an offense stagnant. Thus, making sure their team is stacked with not just one or two quality receivers, but four to five is extremely valuable in today’s game.
With that said, there’s different ways to build a successful offense. The Eagles system still relies on receivers, but much of the offense is centered around dominant offensive line play and the run game. To add two star receivers to a dominant run game is always a great formula for success. But after the two star receivers, how much more is there? If you missed the other position previews they are linked below to catch up on.
Starting Outside Receivers: A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith
The two outside receivers on the Eagles depth chart stack up as one of the best duos in the league. Last year, both Brown and Smith cemented themselves with two incredible individual seasons in a run-centric offense. Both Brown and Smith eclipsed 1000 yards on less than 100 receptions. Brown was 4 yards short of 1500 yards on just 88 receptions. They combined for 18 total receiving touchdowns and made incredible plays every week for the Eagles. A.J. Brown is arguably a top five receiver in the league, with a freakish speed and size combination. He is a dangerous deep threat that demands attention from safeties as well as corners. Smith is a more technical receiver, able to run great routes and provide separation from opposing cornerbacks. Even with a smaller stature though, he makes incredibly tough catches and is an ultra-reliable contributor.
Expect these two to be the starters for the whole season barring any injury. While Brown is among the top ten receivers, Smith is not far behind that list and has even more room for growth. Not only are they both already phenomenal, but both will continue to push each other to be even greater. A great article written by Sports Illustrated, details how Brown and Smith together make a significant impact on each other’s play. Their talents complement each other so well and will continue to be a nightmare for defenses to contend with.
Fighting for the Slot: Olamide Zaccheaus and Quez Watkins
The Eagles signed Olamide Zaccheaus this offseason as he left the Atlanta Falcons in free agency. Right now, he is listed as the starting slot receiver on the Eagles depth chart. Zaccheaus is in his fifth year in the NFL and finished last year with his best season so far. He finished with 40 receptions, 533 receiving yards and three touchdowns. While his stats do not jump off the page, he is still a reliable player. Zaccheaus is a quick and explosive route runner who is great at sitting in the open spots of zone coverage. Last year, he had nine catches over 20 yards in an offense that is similar to the Eagles. He can be the perfect slot option that will be able to find the spots in zone coverage, but still threaten the defense down the seam or down the field.
While Zaccheaus is listed as the starter, it would be premature to count out Quez Watkins from winning that job. Watkins last year was bad, as he could never find his footing in the offense. He had crucial drops in the Super Bowl and seemingly struggled reeling in passes all throughout the year. He went from 600 receiving yards in 2021 to only 300 receiving yards in 2022. However, in the battle between Watkins and Zaccheaus, Watkins has a clear edge in physical attributes. Watkins is bigger, (5’8” vs. 6’0”) and has incredible speed even by NFL standards. At the 2020 NFL Combine, Watkins posted a 4.35 second 40-yard dash, and that speed has not gone away since. Watkins needs to improve his catching and refine his route tree to beat out Zaccheaus in training camp this season.
Fighting for Roster Spots: Tyrie Cleveland, Britain Covey, Joseph Ngata, Devon Allen, Greg Ward, Charleston Rambo, Jadon Haselwood
With the four receivers mentioned as locks for the roster in this article, there will probably only be one or two spots left on the Eagles depth chart for this group. Last year, Britain Covey was the fifth and final receiver on this roster, and he served more of a purpose on special teams as their punt returner. Though, nobody was very impressed with his performance as a punt returner last year. One of the players on the Eagles practice squad last year was Devon Allen, a former Olympic hurdler turned wide receiver. Allen has tremendous speed for sure, but the development around his overall game will need to be improved to make the roster this year.
Greg Ward played for the Eagles from 2019-2021 and started 10 games for the Eagles in 2020. Ward is a slot-only option with some quickness and natural feel with the ball in his hands. As a former quarterback in college, more development around his route-running and special teams value will be imperative for him to make the roster. Tyrie Cleveland is also an NFL veteran in his fourth year in the league, yet he has not started once in his career. His production is almost non-existent, but he has traits that are coveted in the NFL. Cleveland is a 6’2” 210-pound receiver with 4.4 speed to stretch a defense. However, his route-running and feel for the game has been lacking throughout his career, as he is a very straight-line type of player unable to create separation from defensive backs.
Finally, Charleston Rambo, Joseph Ngata, and Jadon Haselwood are all young unproven players, with Ngata and Haselwood being rookies. Rambo wins by his sharp route-running, but he lacks physical attributes in size and speed. Ngata and Haselwood are both bigger receivers who figure to be possession receivers in the NFL but are without refined route-running or change-of-direction.
Eagles Depth Chart Preview Conclusion: Wide Receivers
All in all, there’s no doubt about the talent of the Eagles two top receivers, and the impact they can have this season. However, it will be an interesting battle between Zaccheaus and Watkins for the slot and third receiver role. Watkins will get every chance possible to see if he can win the job. But, if it’s apparent he has not improved enough, or if he struggles during the season, the Eagles will be comfortable in moving on from him with the addition of Zaccheaus. Rounding out the receiver room, expect Britain Covey to make the team again due to his special teams value. Yet, Greg Ward can push Covey for that role as punt returner, especially with Covey’s lackluster performance last year.
It’s possible that receivers like Devon Allen, Tyrie Cleveland, or one of the younger players show enough talent to warrant a roster spot. If Cleveland or Allen show improvement upon their weaknesses, the Eagles could keep them on the roster in fear of losing them to another team while on the practice squad. However, the Eagles are heavily built around their run-game, which makes it unlikely for them to keep more than five receivers. And frankly, the Eagles do not need to carry any more. As long as the core players of the Eagles offense stay healthy, opposing defenses will struggle to stop all the threats the offense possesses.
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