Projected Eagles WR depth chart in 2021
Heading into training camp, the Eagles are going to have a crowded wide receiver room. Howie Roseman and company came out of the 2021 NFL Draft not only with Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith but also added a couple of receivers via UDFA.
The Eagles’ WRs combined for 2,082 total receiving yards last season, the third-fewest in the league behind New England and a run-heavy Baltimore team. The offense blatantly needs more production from their receivers as Jalen Hurts gears up his first year as a starter. With 10 receivers currently on the roster, here’s my projection of what the Eagles WR depth chart will look like on opening day:
To the surprise of nobody, Smith will undoubtedly be the Eagles WR1 heading into the season. Smith had one of the most productive seasons in college football history a year ago on his way to securing the Heisman:
- 117 receptions
- 1856 yards
- 23 TDs
- 15.9 yards/catch
Even when Smith was surrounded by first-round talent the year prior, he was still the most targeted receiver on Alabama over Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and Jaylen Waddle. His combination of speed, length, and agility will make him a dynamic threat in an offense yearning for explosiveness.
DeVonta Smith spoke recently on the possibility of playing with Jalen Hurts again, and now he’s been afforded that chance. A masterful technical on the field, Smith projects to be a high-volume target for years to come.
Holy hell it wasn’t a dream. DeVonta Smith is an Eagle. pic.twitter.com/zfAd6qJ4xw— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) April 30, 2021
Reagor was drafted in the first round of last year’s draft to be a jack of all trades type of player for the Eagles. A stagnant offense and injury woes halted Reagor’s production last season, but that doesn’t mean anyone should write him off. Reagor is still a vertical threat with excellent burst out of his breaks and YAC ability with the ball in his hands.
Even for a small receiver, Reagor can high-point the ball and elevate over defenders, he just didn’t have a ton of chances to demonstrate that last season. The return game is also a strength of his, being the first Eagle to return a punt for a TD in five years last season. With opposing top corners likely shadowing DeVonta Smith in the future, Reagor should command less attention and have ample big-play opportunities.
The former 6th-round pick was a sensation for a five-week span last season, leading the NFL in receiving yards during that time:
Leading WRs weeks 4-8 last season:
- Travis Fulgham: 435 yards
- Tee Higgins: 413 yards
- Robby Anderson: 410 yards
- Stefon Diggs: 407 yards
- Julio Jones: 403 yards
- Allen Robinson: 401 yards
- DK Metcalf: 383 yards
Fulgham’s snap count fell mightily in the following weeks due to a number of reasons, most notably the return of Alshon Jeffery to the lineup. His production during that time is difficult to ignore, having run every route possible for the Eagles against top defenses:
Week 5 v. Pittsburgh:
Granted, the Eagles needing to rely on a 6th-round WR was a problem within itself. But for a team that was starved for any sort of spark on offense, Fulgham stepped up and should be given a chance to contribute. Fulgham ended the season as the Eagles’ leading receiver with 38 catches, 539 yards, and 4 TDs.
Fulgham giving Diggs the business. pic.twitter.com/OfvV12qJ4d— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) November 2, 2020
Greg Ward Jr.
If Greg Ward has been anything over the last season and a half, it’s reliable. Ward was the most trusted receiver last season, having led the team in both playing time and targets. While he may not be explosive, Ward is the “veteran” on the roster and would at the very least provide familiarity in the slot for Jalen Hurts. The Eagles tendered Ward as an exclusive rights free agent earlier this offseason.
The chemistry between Watkins and Hurts began to take shape the last few weeks of the season. Watkins didn’t see the field much but began to get more snaps down the stretch, having at least one reception in each of the last four games. Last year’s 6th-round pick flashed his 4.35 speed at times and his potential alone should warrant a roster spot.
Grimes has a real shot at making the roster as a possession receiver. At 6’4″, 220 pounds, the former five-star recruit has remarkable size and length. His physical attributes allow him to extend over defenders and make contested catches, especially in the red zone. Grimes’ size doesn’t hinder his speed at all either, running a 4.49 40-time at Florida’s Pro Day.
Projected to go as early as the 2nd-round, Grimes is a natural hands catcher but will have to clean up his routes if he hopes to separate from NFL corners. Eagles QB coach Brian Johnson also knows Grimes pretty well from his time spent as the Gators OC. Grimes caught 38 passes for 589 yards and 9 touchdowns in Florida last season.
The more I watch Trevon Grimes, the more I ask myself how the hell did this dude go undrafted. pic.twitter.com/V3FCaqwXFq— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) May 4, 2021
I can’t see the Eagles keeping more than six wide receivers on the active roster, but John Hightower and UDFA Jhamon Ausbon are promising enough to be stashed on the practice squad. Hightower had drop issues last year and while he did show flashes of a viable deep-threat, he doesn’t offer much other than straight-line speed. Hightower also didn’t log any special teams snaps last season, making it that much more difficult to solidify a roster spot.
Despite the drops, Hightower has rebounded nicely and will only be more effective when Reagor returns.— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) October 23, 2020
First rookie WR in Eagles history with 50+ yard catches in 2 consecutive games. pic.twitter.com/acJPS32X3b
At 6’2″, 217 pounds, Ausbon has an imposing physical frame that he uses to gain leverage on defenders. He lacks deep speed and struggles to create much separation against the press, but he knows how to use his build and is one of those guys that is always open even when covered. He’ll be a good camp body that the Eagles can call upon when they need more size on offense.
Eagles UDFA WR Jhamon Ausbon is a very raw athlete but he knows how to use his build.— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) May 5, 2021
One of those guys that are always open even when covered. pic.twitter.com/TpNHTpDCjm
With the addition of UDFA WR Trevon Grimes, JJ Arcega-Whiteside is likely out of chances. The 2019 second-round pick has shown very little to be excited about, having caught only 14 passes for 254 yards since being drafted. The Eagles are better off swallowing their pride and accepting that they were dreadfully wrong about this pick.
QB-turned-WR Kahlil Tate is a longshot to make the roster. He was waived last July before the Eagles brought him back in January.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has failed to record a catch in 11 of his 19 career games.— Jeff Kerr (@JeffKerrCBS) September 20, 2020
No catches in 2020 #Eagles