How new Eagles WR Olamide Zaccheaus shut up the doubters
How undrafted Zaccheaus shut up the doubters originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Check out the NFL.com scouting report on Olamide Zaccheaus when he was coming out of Virginia four years ago:
“Pass-catching technique is gross.”
“Catches the back of the football.”
“Tries to run before he secures it.”
“Catch radius is small.”
“Creates big plays but gives them away.”
No wonder he didn’t get drafted.
There were definitely a lot of questions about Zaccheaus going into the 2019 draft, but he’s gradually answered every single one.
Pass-catching technique is gross? He’s increased his reception total from 3 to 20 to 31 to 40.
Tries to run before he secures it? He has three career drops on 151 targets.
Creates big plays but gives them away? He has seven career catches of 40 or more yards and had nine 20-yarders last year.
The South Jersey native and St. Joe’s Prep graduate was an underrated addition for the Eagles this offseason. How did a guy who was doubted so heavily coming out of college become so solid and reliable?
“I’ve always been able to catch, but there were little inconsistencies there coming out of college,” he said. “Really it’s just working at it. That’s just how I got better at it.
“I think one thing that’s been said here is just raising that floor and I think as far as catching the ball consistently every time I’ve raised my floor to a very high level. It just came with time and work and just having that confidence in myself that I could do whatever I put my mind to.”
You don’t see many receivers whose numbers go up every year. But in Atlanta, Zaccheus went from being almost exclusively a special teamer as a rookie to a part-timer in 2020 and then a key member of the Falcons’ offense the last two years.
“I attribute that to just work ethic and just learning from each year and each offseason, just being critical of what I did last year and just finding ways to become better and having a team that believes in me and invests in me to help me do that,” he said. “There’s a lot of people behind the scenes that do a lot of work to help me be in this position right now.”
Zaccheaus’s 94 career receptions are more than 15 of the 25 wide receivers drafted in 2019, including four taken in the first three rounds. That's a group that includes J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
Where does he fit in with the Eagles?
With Zach Pascal — another former undrafted free agent — now with the Cards, the Eagles’ options beyond DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown are Quez Watkins, Zaccheaus and then people like Greg Ward, Britain Covey, Tyrie Cleveland, Devon Allen and undrafted rookies Joseph Ngata and Jadon Haselwood.
Watkins still has that unrivaled speed and ability to get open deep, but after his rough season last year someone as steady and reliable as Zaccheaus could have the opportunity to become WR3.
And it’s not like Zaccheaus isn’t fast. His 14.1 career average is actually higher than Watkins’ 13.3.
But what the Eagles really need from Zaccheaus is someone they can count on all the time. That wasn’t the case with Watkins last year.
“Part of my game is just being reliable and doing whatever the team needs me to do,” Zaccheaus said. “Blocking, in the slot, catching passes. So that’s how I feel like I fit in the offense. Whatever the team needs me to do I’ll do. I’m very confident in what I do, what I bring to the table. We’ll see how that looks.”
Zaccheaus hasn’t practiced with Jalen Hurts yet, but he said everything Hurts does is impressive and it didn’t take him long to realize what an intense worker he is.
“His demeanor in the building is stoic, I guess that’s the word to use,” he said. “He has a calmness about him and it’s comforting in a way because I guess I’m kind of the same way in a sense.
“Just working for one thing. To win. Obviously, throughout the offseason, OTAs, training camp, we’ll build that chemistry on the field. But just seeing him throughout the building, how he works, he’s had the success he’s had for a reason. For sure. You see it.”
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