When you’re an Eagles fan most of your attention and energy goes to your team. “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” and all that.
You agonize over everything. The roster, GM, coach, draft picks, free-agent money, salary cap, back-up quarterback — especially the back-up quarterback, the *third-string quarterback.*
Despite all of that focus, Eagles fans save some pre-occupation for their NFC East rivals — the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Washington Commanders.
We want to know what they’re up to. We want them to fail. We want to know what they’re thinking on draft night.
We want to know everything.
Today, we’ll take a look at the receiving corps of the NFC East.
EAGLES (QB JALEN HURTS)
- WR DeVonta Smith
- WR A.J. Brown
- WR Quez Watkins
- TE Dallas Goedert
It’s fair to say the Eagles passing game is a work in progress. Hurts isn’t a lock to become an NFL star. He might, but no one knows.
The Eagles receivers are talented. Smith showed last year he has a world of potential and skill. He also disappeared at times, which might have been because of a game plan that didn’t showcase him.
The Eagles believe the addition of Brown will provide an excellent receiver and open more space for Smith. Brown has serious star potential. He averaged 62 catches and 998 yards in three years with the Titans.
“With A.J., I think you guys saw how excited we are about that,” coach Nick Sirianni said after the draft.
“He just is, again, going back to what I said — body quickness, strength and catches everything, and he’s done it at a very high level for the last three years. And so, couldn’t be more happy there.”
Watkins is a 2020 sixth-round pick who is considered the team’s third receiver going into training camp. He doesn’t have big numbers: 50 catches in 23 games for 753 yards and two touchdowns.
But Watkins has shown an ability to get open and to make the tough catch. Can’t help but think he will benefit from Brown and the continued emergence of Smith.
Goedert replaced the traded Zach Ertz at tight end during last season. Goedert has shown a dual ability to block and catch. Without Ertz, Goedert might turn into a 90-catch machine. His best year was 2019, when he had 58 catches.
The Eagles’ backup receivers are intriguing. They have long-shot track star Devon Allen, first-round pick/bust Jalen Reagor, free-agent pickup Zach Pascal, Britain Covey, John Hightower and Greg Ward. At least two of those guys will be on the Eagles 2022 roster.
COWBOYS (QB DAK PRESCOTT)
- WR CeeDee Lamb
- WR Michael Gallup
- WR James Washington
- TE Dalton Schultz
Prescott is a high-quality quarterback, a guy who wins games. He has a strong, accurate arm. He scrambles when necessary and gains valuable yards.
In six seasons, Prescott has won one playoff game. That lack of success in the season’s biggest games chips away at his legacy.
Prescott is only 28, still in his prime. He has a big contract, a talented team and plenty of time to find postseason success. His receiving corps is uncertain.
Amari Cooper is gone, traded to the Cleveland Browns for peanuts — a fifth- and sixth-round pick. Cooper once was Dallas’ top receiver. He is a four-time Pro Bowler.
He also carried around a $20 million price tag, which is why Dallas owner Jerry Jones wasn’t unhappy to move him.
In 2021, Cooper had 68 catches for 865 yards and eight touchdowns. Nice numbers but not No. 1 numbers.
Lamb now is considered Dallas’ No. 1 receiver.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jones heaped praise on Lamb for being a more complete No. 1 receiver than Cooper in “production, in the huddle and off the field.”
Gallup, who is coming off an ACL tear, has developed into a speedy option and deep threat for Prescott. He received a 5-year deal in the offseason but it is not known if he will be ready for the season opener.
Every time you saw the Cowboys on TV, Schultz seemed to catch a big third-down pass to move the chains.
COMMANDERS (QB CARSON WENTZ)
- WR Terry McLaurin
- WR Curtis Samuel
- WR Jahan Dotson
- TE Logan Thomas
The Commanders quarterback and receiving corps are the most fascinating in the NFC East.
What if Wentz still has something in the tank? He certainly has something to prove.
McLaurin and Samuel will be joined by Penn State rookie Dotson, giving Wentz probably his best group of receivers.
Only seven wide receivers have 75 catches and 1,000 in each of the past two seasons.
- Davante Adams
- Travis Kelce
- Justin Jefferson
- Tyreek Hill
- Stefon Diggs
- Brandin Cooks
- Terry McLaurin
McLaurin is the first Washington wide receiver with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons since Henry Ellard (1994-96). McLaurin recently signed a three-year, $71 million deal.
GIANTS (QB DANIEL JONES)
- WR Kenny Golladay
- WR Sterling Shepard
- WR Kadarius Toney
- TE Ricky Seals-Jones
The Giants have struggled at quarterback and wide receiver. They paid Kenny Golladay the most money ever for a free agent wide receiver — four years, $72 million. His stat line: 37 catches, 521 yards and zero touchdowns. He missed three games with a knee injury.
Last year’s No. 1 draft pick Kadarius Toney played 10 games and had 39 catches, 420 yards, zero touchdowns.
Sterling Shepard only played seven games.
Darius Slayton could steal a starting job and the Giants have high hopes for rookie Wan’Dale Robinson.
The Giants finished 31st in scoring for the second straight year, averaging 15.2 points per games. Jones is on the clock.
The Eagles have the most talented receiving group, followed by the Commanders, Cowboys and Giants.
But trying to definitively pick the best group is clouded by quarterback uncertainty. How good is Hurts? What QB will Wentz be: the 2017 version (great) or the 2020 version (bad)? Something in between?
Will Dak stay healthy? Does Dallas have enough talented receivers to make the best use of Dak’s strengths?
The Giants are rebuilding and trying to stay out of the trainer’s room. No one knows if Jones is the quarterback of the future. They are a few years away from being in this conversation.
For now, give the edge to the Eagles — with the potential for a huge upside.