Carson Wentz has four shiny new toy weapons lining up at receiver in 2020. The Eagles went hard at the position in the draft.
Philadelphia jump-started their biggest position of need on Day 1 by taking Jalen Reagor, then added John Hightower and Quez Watkins on Day 3. They also made a draft-day trade with San Francisco to acquire Olympic sprinter Marquise Goodwin. Not for nothing, the Eagles also took a flier on another speed threat — Morgan State’s Manasseh Bailey — after signing him as an undrafted free agent.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman had come under fire for not addressing the receiver position in free agency. The team is expecting the return of 33-year-old burner DeSean Jackson from injury in 2020, as well as a controversial comeback for Alshon Jeffery. The latter still isn’t 100-percent and could miss the first few weeks of the regular season.
“We knew we needed to get better at that position. I know I’ve talked about it in the offseason, but we really feel like we’ve added [depth].” Roseman told reporters. “We’ve added DeSean [Jackson] back, Alshon [Jeffery] back. We need to get him healthy, get him right.”
It was telling to hear Roseman call out Jeffery by name, especially after head coach Doug Pederson omitted Jeffery’s name in a previous question about the team’s veteran leadership at the position. He mentioned Jackson, Goodwin and Greg Ward as the players for the younger guys to look up to. No Jeffery.
“I feel personally we’re going to have to lean on our veteran players. We’re going to have to lean on DeSean Jackson and Greg Ward, who we know has come into his own and been on our team for couple years. Guys like that,” Pederson said. “And now Marquise Goodwin, a veteran player who understands the game, until we can get these young guys caught up.”
Team Defines New ‘Eagles Mentality’ for 2020
The day after the Eagles lost to the Seahawks in last year’s playoffs, Howie Roseman walked into Doug Pederson’s office with a note.
He had three things jotted down on a piece of paper: “Can he run? Is he healthy? Does he love to play?” The head coach nodded in agreement and they walked down the hall to run it by player personnel guru Andy Weidl. In an instant, those words became their offseason motto.
“When we looked at everyone we picked today, we tried to answer those questions,” Roseman said. “Now, when we went a little bit later in the draft, maybe there were some questions on a couple of those guys, but we felt like they were good enough football players that they were worth the risk.”
Eagles’ brass kept stressing the last part of the motto, about drafting guys that love football and want to get better. Weidl termed it the “Eagles mentality” and part of it entails putting a product on the field that the blue-collar fans in Philly can be proud of.
“Obviously, we see the skillset on tape and we understand that, the guy can play football,” Pederson said. “But talking to these people really gives us a better insight into the character of the person. Does he love football? Is he passionate about his sport? Does he want to get better? And that’s how we do it.”
Preliminary Depth Chart Up in Eagles’ Locker Room
The Eagles have compiled a very tentative and early depth chart. Eagles GM Howie Roseman teased the news in his post-draft press conference but it has yet to be updated on the team’s official website. Either way, it’s not hard to predict how it might shake out at the receiver position.
With Alshon Jeffery likely missing Week 1 — and maybe he gets traded in the meantime — the Eagles will pencil in DeSean Jackson and Jalen Reagor on the outside, with Greg Ward Jr. taking over the slot. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Marquise Goodwin project as their backups, with John Hightower and Quez Watkins listed behind them.
Training camp should be chock full of heated battles, too. Watkins, the sixth-round pick from Southern Miss, has already put his new teammates on notice. He doesn’t expect to sit on the sidelines all year.
“I’m really not somebody that’s going to try to stay off to the side,” Watkins told reporters. “I’m going to show up to the competition and show everybody what I’m about.”
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