2020 NFL Draft: Eagles go all in on speed to completely revamp WR corps for Carson Wentz

Remember when all of Philadelphia was up in arms because the Eagles opted for Jalen Hurts with their second-round draft pick, seemingly getting Carson Wentz insurance rather than immediate help for Wentz himself? Well, general manager Howie Roseman reminded everyone on Saturday that there are seven, not just two, rounds in the draft. And he did so by addressing the Eagles’ offense, addressing it again and then addressing it some more, stockpiling speed to completely revamp Wentz’s receiving corps.

Despite already adding a potential Day 1 starter at wide receiver with TCU’s Jalen Reagor on Thursday night, Roseman held a clinic on collecting speedy pass catchers during the final day of the 2020 draft. First came a trade with the San Francisco 49ers, in which the Eagles moved back 20 spots in the sixth round to add veteran Marquise Goodwin. Then came a fifth-round pick of Boise State’s John Hightower, a consensus Day 3 sleeper. Then came a sixth-round pick of Quez Watkins, who ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash at February’s scouting combine.

No one’s arguing that haul is as safe or promising as, say, pairing Reagor with Baylor’s Denzel Mims, who could’ve been had instead of Hurts in the second, or someone like new Texans starter Brandin Cooks, who reportedly had Roseman’s interest. Goodwin has battled injuries in recent years, and late-round flyers are just that: Flyers.

But to suggest Roseman didn’t just make serious efforts to inject explosion into an Eagles offense that’s so often trudged along since winning Super Bowl LII? That’d be flat-out wrong.

Here’s a look at the team’s rough WR depth chart, both at the end of 2019 and after the 2020 draft:

Alshon Jeffery (IR)

Alshon Jeffery

DeSean Jackson (IR)

DeSean Jackson

Nelson Agholor (inactive)

Jalen Reagor

Greg Ward Jr.

Greg Ward Jr.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Marquise Goodwin

Robert Davis

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Deontay Burnett

John Hightower

Shelton Gibson

Quez Watkins

Again, the Eagles don’t have a proven, bona fide No. 1. But up and down that pecking order, Wentz’s weapons look better.

Let’s start with Jeffery, just because he’s the biggest X-factor of the bunch: In Roseman’s ideal world, the former Super Bowl standout would recover from his late-season Lisfranc injury ahead of the 2020 kickoff and be shipped elsewhere, not mainly because of perceived locker-room concerns but because he’s aging, oft-nicked up and has a big salary. It’s still unclear whether he’ll be ready to suit up come Week 1 (whenever that is), and it’s also possible he just sticks around for at least one more year. In that case, he’d make for a good, not great, outside target who, contrary to popular opinion, connected just fine with Wentz in some of his last action.

Beyond Jeffery is where things really look different, in a good way. It’s easy to overlook Jackson considering he was absent for much of the 2019 season, and it’s not like we should count on the 33-year-old to play 16 games in 2020. But this is still a guy who takes the top off a defense when healthy. We got a taste of Jackson’s familiar big-play ability during his anticipated return to Philly at the start of last season, and if he returns even close to that form, the Birds will instantly be better suited to air the ball out.

Assuming Jeffery isn’t active (or on the team) to open the year, Arcega-Whiteside would presumably fill the role of the big-body possession WR, and while his rookie season was severely underwhelming, it’ll be hard for him to offer less than he did in 2019. Then you’ve got Jackson and some combination of Reagor, Goodwin and Ward to man the other outside spot and the slot. Ward was an upgrade on Nelson Agholor, who’s since departed for the Las Vegas Raiders, at the end of 2019 by virtue of actually catching most passes that came his way, and even if you knock him for lacking the explosion Agholor had at his best, you’ve now got Reagor’s Tyreek Hill-esque speed to help chip away at the defense.

None of Goodwin, Hightower or Watkins should be considered locks to be reliable big-play threats or even starting-caliber targets. But the Eagles almost literally got zero contributions on the outside down the stretch in 2019, where Arcega-Whiteside and Robert Davis were out-targeted by running backs and tight ends. And that’s where the overhaul is key: The fact the Eagles took so many swings on these speed WRs means only one really needs to show up to change the offense. Maybe it’s Jackson, or Reagor, or Goodwin, or all of them. Anything from Hightower or Watkins would just be a bonus. The middle of the field is already covered with target machines like Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Jeffery, if he’s around.

So is Wentz guaranteed a Super Bowl-caliber supporting cast in 2020? Far from it. But anyone suggesting Roseman hasn’t poured resources into making things better needs only to open their eyes.

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