The Philadelphia Eagles created a massive hole in their starting lineup when they released star WR DeSean Jackson. As a result, Philly fans have been clamoring for a new WR to be selected in round one of the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. They do need to target a WR, but not necessarily with their first round choice.
Jackson was released after reports of disagreements with HC Chip Kelly, not being a team-first player and speculation of gang relationships. I understand you may not want him on your team or in your locker room, but to just abruptly cut him and let him sign with a divisional rival is head scratching at best. I can’t understand a scenario how Philly came out on top in this situation like fans are suggesting. If the Minnesota Vikings can get a 1st, 3rd and 7th round draft picks for their former disgruntled receiver (Percy Harvin), I find it staggering to believe nothing could be had in return for Jackson, even if it’s a 7th rounder (so long as it’s an AFC team).
But I digress. Jackson is gone and the world continues to spin. In the wake of all this is a potential weakness in an area that not long ago was a strength.
Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin will be options one and two (as of now), with all-purpose back Darren Sproles potentially manning the slot. Considering Cooper has had only one semi-decent season of his career, Maclin is coming off a second torn ACL (and playing out a one-year deal) and Sproles is a RB playing WR, the future is murky.
I agree with Philly fans that a playmaking WR will be a necessary target in the draft. But round one doesn’t have to be the place to find him.
Everyone knows (or should) by now how incredibly deep this WR class is. Realistically, there’s about ten guys who are first round caliber. And it’s as deep as it is talented at the top, as there’s about 25 receivers who are talented enough to be gone by the end of the third round.
With such impressive depth, why not wait until the second round to find a first round talent at WR? You know ten receivers won’t go in the first, so there will be some who slide.
WR is a need, but not their biggest need. Why not address your still-mediocre secondary in round one? Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State), Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech) and Jason Verrett (CB, TCU) are all projected to go around the range of 22 (where Philly is picking), same with Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville).
Now, if Kelly and co. are completely sold on someone, like Jackson-mini-me Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State), and they’re still available at 22, then by all means take him. But don’t take a WR in the first you’re not totally sold on just because it’s a semi-need at an ever trendy position. The NFL Draft is all about value, and if you can get two first round talents in the first-two rounds without giving up any commodities, you’d be stupid not to take it.
Plus, Kelly is a smart coach (aside from letting his most explosive player go to his rival for literally nothing in return). He may not need someone with Jackson’s truly elite physical skill set to milk Jackson’s numbers out of one or two guys. Sproles could be unreal in Kelly’s offense and WR may not even be a need at all. He’s a crafty, creative guy and I think he can get the most production out of a not-quite-as-talented player.
Regardless, the Eagles should target a WR early in the draft, just not necessarily in round one.