Ranking the Eagles' wide receivers

Eliot Shorr-Parks
August 19, 2020 - 5:03 am

No position on the Eagles has been discussed more this offseason than the wide receivers, with many questioning how the offense is going to be able to move the ball with so many questions at the position.

So far through two days of padded practices it seems like the Eagles also are trying to figure out what to do at receiver. They have been shuffling the receivers in-and-out, giving each player a rep with Carson Wentz to show what they can do with the first-team offense. There have been some positives, but also still plenty of questions remain.

After two days of getting a chance to watch the Eagles’ receivers in action, here are some thoughts on each of the receivers on the roster:

1. DeSean Jackson: There is little doubt Jackson is going to be the No. 1 receiver on the Eagles. He is the quickest, he is the best route runner, he has the best hands and he has the most experience. The question will be can he stay healthy. Jackson didn’t get much work on Monday, then had a planned day off on Tuesday, meaning he hasn’t caught a pass yet from Carson Wentz in a team setting. Despite being on the roster for over a year, the duo haven’t gotten that much work together, considering Jackson missed almost all of last season. When healthy and playing, however, expect plenty of passes to go Jackson’s way.

2. Jalen Reagor: This has been the first chance for reporters to see the Eagles’ first-round pick in action. The early results are impressive. Not only does Reagor’s speed stand out, but he has been working exclusively with the first-team offense, a sign the will be getting plenty of action each week once the regular season begins. Reagor has gotten a lot of work over the middle, but hasn’t yet been targeted on a deep pass, something that is somewhat surprising. Reagor was on the field at the same time as Jackson on Monday, and so far has three catches on three targets. Expecting Reagor to come in and make an immediate impact might be asking a lot of the rookie, but he is definitely going to get the chance to do so.

3. Greg Ward: Ward is kind of like the Zach Ertz of the receivers — dependable and one of Wentz’s favorite targets. Ward has four catches so far on five targets and one touchdown, doing most of his work on short passes over the middle. Prior to training camp there was some question on where Ward stood in the receiver pecking order. The early indication is that Ward is going to be a starting receiver on the Eagles and he is going to get plenty of snaps.

4. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: It is hard to know where to place Arcega-Whiteside, who hasn’t taken any snaps so far in the two padded practices the team has had. That has to be disappointing for both the coaching staff and Arcega-Whiteside, considering the pressure on him this year to take a big step forward in his second season. Arcega-Whiteside brings some size to the outside, but if he doesn’t get back into action soon, wouldn’t be surprising to see Watkins or Hightower pass him on the depth chart — or for his snaps to completely disappear when Alshon Jeffery returns.

5. Quez Watkins: Without question one of the early standouts of camp at receiver so far has been Watkins. Watkins got off to a great start on Monday, catching two touchdowns in a red zone drill from Wentz. The duo got work together during the offseason in Houston and it shows, as Wentz has been looking Watkins’ way plenty so far through two days. In face, no receiver on the roster has more targets than the seven Watkins has. The duo have not been perfect, as Watkins has only caught three of the seven passes, but it is noteworthy how much work he is getting. After one snap on Tuesday that resulted in an incomplete deep pass from Wentz to Watkins, the two talked on the sideline about what went wrong. Watkins seems to be the early leader in the clubhouse to get a surprising amount of snaps early on in the season.

6. John Hightower: The Eagles’ other late-round rookie receiver, Hightower, has also had a nice start to camp. Hightower has been able to get behind the defense twice, once resulting in a clear touchdown, and the other would have likely been a touchdown in the game as well. Hightower’s touchdown on Tuesday came on the last play of practice, when he pulled in a perfect throw by Wentz about 20 yards down the field, then ran in the final 10-or-so yards for the touchdown. Hightower caught what would have likely been a touchdown from Jalen Hurts on Monday, beating Rasul Douglas deep along the right sideline. Hightower has three catches so far on seven targets, and might have the best combination of size-and-speed on the roster. Watkins has slightly outplayed Hightower, but it is close. The Eagles should feel pleased with what they have seen from the rookie duo so far.

7. Deontay Burnett: Statistically, Burnett has been the Eagles’ best receiver in camp through the first two days. Burnett has caught every pass thrown his way, bringing in six catches on six targets, three of which went for touchdowns. Burnett was on the roster last season but didn’t get much playing time — just 15 snaps — despite the team’s injuries at the position. Perhaps with a full offseason with the team (albeit virtual), Burnett is ready to carve out a role on the Eagles’ offense. Burnett, just 22-years old, looks quick out on the field and has made a few impressive catches, including two along the side of the end zone for touchdowns. He is definitely in the conversation for a roster spot and perhaps even some playing time if the Eagles aren’t ready to put Hightower or Watkins out on the field.

8. Robert Davis: Like Burnett, Davis was among the receivers that were active at the end of last season as the Eagles made their run to the playoffs. Unlike Burnett, Davis has not been able to make much of an impact through the first two days, and doesn’t seem to be getting as many reps as Burnett either. Davis’ only path to the roster seems to be if the Eagles really want to have a big-body on the outside, and don’t trust Arcega-Whiteside while Alshon Jeffery continues to heal.
1 catch, 2 targets

9. Manasseh Bailey: Bailey does not have a catch in any 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills, but he did make a few nice grabs during 1-on-1 drills Tuesday. Bailey is definitely a developmental player at this point, but will need to start showing he can make plays in team drills to earn a spot on the practice squad.
0 catches, 1 target

10. Marcus Green: The Eagles have cut Marcus Green once already this offseason, and although they brought him back, he has not had many chances to stand out in camp. The practice squad is likely the ceiling for Green.
1 catch, 1 target

PUP: Alshon Jeffery: Jeffery has been at Eagles practices, standing on the sideline, talking to teammates and having a light catches with some of the assistant coaches. It appears to be a matter of when, not if, he returns to action for the Eagles this season. That moment almost certainly won’t come before Week 8, since he seems set to start the season on the PUP. When he does return, expect Jeffery to be near the top of the depth chart, starting opposite Jackson.

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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