With Desean Jackson now out of the picture, the Philadelphia Eagles are now faced with a decision. The team re-signed wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper at the beginning of the 2014 free agency period. With that being said, many still believe that there is a huge void on offense, especially at the wide receiver position. Is this true? Not necessarily. If there is one thing that we know, it’s that Chip Kelly can make due with any offensive personnel. Last season he turned Nick Foles into a Pro-Bowl quarterback without arguably the team’s best receiver in Jeremy Maclin. In year two of the “Chip Kelly Era”, we should expect nothing but better results from the coach who decided to cut Pro-Bowl wideout Desean Jackson for undisclosed reasons. This brings me back to my initial statement. The Eagles have a big decision to make. With the majority of quality receivers now off the market, should the Eagles draft a receiver in the first round of the draft, or take a chance on someone later on? I would say that the team is just fine without Jackson and a first-round receiver.
On the current roster, there is one new name on the offensive side of the ball that is poised to make a significant contribution in this Eagles’ offense. That name is Darren Sproles, a small player who makes a huge impact every time he gets the ball. Last season in 15 games with the Saints, Sproles totaled 71 receptions for 604 yards and 2 touchdowns. That averages out to 4.7 receptions and 40 receiving yards per game. Granted, these are not Desean Jackson numbers. Heck these are not even close to Jackson’s 82 receptions for 1332 yards and 9 touchdowns, so we cannot say that Sproles will replace Jackson. We can, however be optimistic about a guy like Sproles in Chip Kelly’s offense. Sproles can break the game open at any moment and can very well open up the offense for Lesean McCoy and the rest of the receiving corps. His abilities and position make for an instant mismatch on linebackers. In New Orleans, Sproles was a huge part of the Saints’ success. He provided a boost on offense while serving as a weapon in the kick and punt return game. The Eagles got a great deal on Sporles, and I believe he will make an immediate impact in every aspect of the Eagles offense and special teams.
Darren Sproles may very well replace some of the production that will be absent after Desean Jackson’s departure, however there is some buzz about the Eagles bringing in a first-round talent at the position. According to Ross Jones of Fox Sports, the Eagles are very interested in USC wideout Marquise Lee. The team has met with Lee twice and is set to have another meeting with the Eagles sometime in the middle of April. Jones also reported that the Eagles have met with almost every top wide receiver prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. Adding a guy like Marquise Lee could take the Eagles offense to the next level, at the same time it could prevent them from getting better on defense. Safety is a position that has been a question mark in the Eagles’ secondary since the days of Brian Dawkins. Prospects such as Calvin Pryor, Jimmy Ward, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could make an immediate impact at safety if the Eagles were to pass up a wide receiver.
Only those inside the NovaCare Complex on a daily basis know the true motives of the Eagles when it comes to the draft and future plans. The NFL Draft begins on May 8th and ends on May 10th. On May 11th, the Eagles will either be better or worse off without Jackson. Until then, let the speculation and criticism rage on, for this is just another typical offseason in Philly.
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