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July 12, 2017

Eagles training camp preview: Wide receiver

Eagles NFL
071217AlshonJeffery Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The Eagles still have work to do in improving their wide receiver corps, but they should be considerably better than they've been the past two seasons.

On July 24, there will be football again, as quarterbacks, rookies, and select veterans will report for training camp. Leading up to camp, we'll be taking a look at each positional group. On Monday, we started with the quarterbacks. On Tuesday, we looked at the running backs

Today we'll preview the wide receivers.

First, here's a look at the wide receivers likely to make the final 53-man roster:

Alshon Jeffery Torrey Smith Jordan Matthews Nelson Agholor Mack Hollins 

In 2015 and 2016, the Eagles had one of the worst wide receiver corps in the NFL, if not 
the worst. They most definitely improved that unit with the free agent acquisitions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, but they are certainly not among the "top (fill in the blank of whatever your Eagles fan friend has unrealistically ranked them)" in the league, as we mentioned in our Eagles dumpster fire piece earlier this offseason.

• Jeffery is very talented and has put up big numbers in the past, but he also comes with some injury and suspension concerns. That said, Jeffery looked like the real deal during OTAs and minicamp, where he was easily the Eagles' best receiver.

• After a promising start to his career in Baltimore, Smith was very bad with the 49ers the last two seasons. He has to prove he's closer to the player he was with the Ravens than the one he was in San Francisco.

• Jordan Matthews is a nice slot receiver, but that appears to be his ceiling.

• Nelson Agholor's first two seasons in the NFL were atrocious, but after a decent (and I stress decent) spring, people are putting him in the Hall of Fame. Agholor suddenly being good is wholly unrealistic. We'll see.

• Hollins should contribute immediately on special teams. To be determined if he can make any kind of impact early in the regular offense.

Beyond those five receivers, I would order the rest of the group competing for a job like so:

  1. Marcus Johnson: The team liked him last year, but he got injured during camp, which cost him a roster spot.
  2. Shelton Gibson: Very poor performance during OTAs and minicamp, but as a fifth-round pick, he'll get every opportunity to climb out of the hole he dug.
  3. Greg Ward: College quarterback who has looked comfortable making the transition back to receiver, where he played early in his career at the University of Houston.
  4. Bryce Treggs: Had one really nice day during minicamp, but he'll have to have a lot more of those to make the club.
  5. Paul Turner: Good hands, but size and athletic limitations will always haunt him.
  6. David Watford: Former college quarterback who managed to stick on the practice squad last year, but struggled during the spring.

If we're looking at the Eagles' top 5 receivers this year vs. last year, it looks like the chart below:

 Eagles WRs
 2016Jordan Matthews Nelson Agholor Dorial Green-Beckham Josh Huff Bryce Treggs 
 2017 Alshon JefferyTorrey Smith Jordan Matthews Nelson Agholor Mack Hollins 

The Eagles are far from done rebuilding their receiving corps, but that is still a big difference.

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