The Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiver group is crowded. With ten current players on the roster and five days looming before final cuts, who will be part of the 53-man group as we head into the 2022 season?
On Tuesday teams across the NFL cut their roster down to 80 players (from 85). As for the Eagles, the team didn’t touch their receivers, leaving them all fighting for a spot. Now in Week 4 of training camp, Philadelphia is in Miami, Florida, for joint practices with the Dolphins. With just one preseason game remaining, half of the receivers may soon see their last game for a while.
The ten players currently standing include:
- A.J. Brown
- DeVonta Smith
- Quez Watkins
- Jalen Reagor
- Zach Pascal
- Devon Allen
- Deon Cain
- Britain Covey
- John Hightower
- Greg Ward
EAGLES WIDE RECEIVER LOCKS
Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles signed five receivers to their 53-man roster. If the team sticks to that plan for 2022-2023, three players will be vying for a spot as A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are locks.
Brown, who was acquired from the Tennessee Titans has had a strong training camp thus far. The wide receiver has been the go-to target for quarterback Jalen Hurts. Smith has also done well in camp, connecting with Hurts more seamlessly compared to last season. Though he has been out with a groin injury, the Eagles have no doubt he will be ready by Week 1.
Behind Brown and Smith is likely Quez Watkins. Watkins was known for his deep-ball catches and speed last season, and fortunately, nothing has changed. In 2021, he caught a 91-yard pass, reaching 21.62 MPH on the run — the 14th-highest speed any player hit last season. This offseason, he’s done well in camp, and played in Philadelphia’s first preseason game against the New York Jets. Targeted five times, Watkins had four receptions for 51 receiving yards, with his longest totaling 28 yards.
The fourth spot goes to Zach Pascal. Pascal, who previously played for the Indianapolis Colts, missed a good portion of training camp after suffering food poison. Returning 16 pounds lighter, he’s made a handful of nice plays (including those in the red zone), creating separation from cornerback Darius Slay in camp. He’s played in both preseason games thus far, totaling three receptions for 56 receiving yards.
EAGLES FIFTH WIDE RECEIVER POSITION
In the past the Eagles have made some notoriously stupid moves and if they select Jalen Reagor for the 53-man roster, they’ll commit another one.
In two seasons with Philadelphia, Reagor has been targeted 57 times, but has only completed 33 receptions for 299 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His dropped passes and loss of yardage has become an issue and frankly, the Eagles don’t know how to use him anymore. Though the team doesn’t want to cut their former first-round pick, there are other newcomers who are simply better.
Given that Hightower and Ward have had playing time with the Eagles and haven’t made an immense showing yet, Philadelphia should be looking at Allen, Covey, and Cain to fill the fifth and final spot.
Allen is literally one of the fastest men in the world. Specializing in the 110-meter hurdles in the World Championships, Allen showcased his speed in the Eagles’ second preseason game. In his first offensive snap (and, his first catch in the NFL) against the Cleveland Browns, he sprinted for a deep ball, landing himself a 55-yard touchdown.
There’s no doubt Allen is fast, but can he always be a reliable option given his inexperience in the NFL?
Covey signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent, and has had a strong camp. He’s been a standout, and despite a thumb injury, he has continuously managed to secure passes and make touchdowns.
However, the best preseason performance out of the three, has been Deon Cain. As a sixth-round draft pick by the Colts in 2019, Cain led the Eagles with five receptions and 66 yards in their second preseason game against the Browns.
He has become a reliable option for Gardner Minshew and Reid Sinnett, mostly playing with the second and third-team. Though he’s spent the majority of his career on injured reserve and the practice squad, he brings a veteran presence, and is giving Reagor a run for his money.
It’s still possible that the Eagles find a trade option for Reagor, making it that much easier to secure Cain. The 53-man roster must be finalized by Tuesday, August 30.