2021 NFL WR rankings: Eagles’ among worst groups in NFL

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PFF ranks Eagles’ receivers among NFL’s worst originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

After the Eagles’ drafted DeVonta Smith with the No. 10 pick, there’s finally some real excitement about the receiver position among Eagles fans.

But it’s just potential for now.

In ProFootballFocus’s ranking of receiving corps in the NFL, Steve Palazzolo put the Eagles at No. 30 out of 32 teams.

Here’s part of that reasoning:

“Eagles wide receivers have ranked last in receiving grade in each of the last two years, so there’s plenty of room to improve for this unit. They’ve now spent back-to-back first-round selections on receivers, putting the pressure on Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith. Reagor graded at 64.0 overall as a rookie in 2020, picking up 396 yards on 31 catches. It was a slow start, but he has the explosiveness to develop as an outside vertical threat. Smith is a better all-around receiver, and that was on display in one of the best seasons in college football history. He can separate to all levels of the field and is dangerous with the ball in his hands, so look for Smith to develop as the high-volume threat in this offense.

“One of the bright sides of last season’s struggles was the emergence of Travis Fulgham, who had bounced around with several teams before posting an impressive 71.2 overall grade and leading the Eagles with 539 receiving yards. Beyond that top three, Greg Ward may have a role in the possession game, as he’s averaged 8.3 yards per reception in his career. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has disappointed as a former second-rounder with just 26 career targets. And 2020 fifth-rounder John Hightower adds another speed component.”

The only teams in the NFL with worse receivers, according to PFF, are the Lions at No. 31 and the Texans at No. 32.

Meanwhile, here’s how the teams in the NFC East rank:

2. Cowboys

11. Giants

19. Washington

There’s no question that the Eagles have the weakest receiver unit in the division, at least on paper. The Cowboys are absolutely stacked, just behind the Buccaneers on this list. The Giants added Kenny Golladay in free agency and Kadarius Toney in the draft to add to a group that already included Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard and John Ross. And Washington added Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries in free agency and then Dynami Brown in the draft to a group that already included Terry McLaurin.

As a reminder, here are the receivers on the Eagles’ 90-man roster: DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward Jr., Travis Fulgham, Quez Watkins, John Hightower, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Trevon Grimes, Jhamon Ausbon, Khalil Tate.

This is an Eagles unit where the oldest players are Ward and Fulgham (both 25) and where Ward is by far the most experienced. Ward has 81 career catches after getting called up from the practice squad during the 2019 season.

So this is a young and inexperienced group, but there is some talent. The idea of pairing Smith with Reagor and creating a young nucleus with Jalen Hurts is exciting and full of potential.

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