Talent Trumps Speed at WR

“Speed” has been a topic of discussion when it comes to the Eagles receiving core this off-season. Most fans and analysts feel like it’s a must for Philadelphia to add a burner into this offense that lacked any type of playmaking at the position.

The two most common names to fill that void have been Jets receiver Robby Anderson, who is set to become a free agent, and draft prospect Henry Ruggs III out of Alabama.

Now this is not to say both guys aren’t talented. Anderson has put up impressive numbers with unsteady QB play in New York and Ruggs, who is one of my favorite WR prospects in this draft class, does a lot more than simply run fast down the field. But a whole lot more goes into being a good WR than just speed.

Early into the off-season, I’ve been seeing people write off different draft prospects because they didn’t run fast at the combine or are more known to be possession receivers that excel at perfecting their routes rather than flying past defensive backs down the field.

This is a notion that would set up the Philadelphia Eagles for failure in their search for steady production at the WR position. It’s not hard to see that a majority of the league’s top talent at the position wouldn’t qualify as the “burner” that so many fans are pleading for.

2019-20 Receiving Yards Leaders at WR in the 40-yard dash:
1. Michael Thomas – 4.57
2. Julio Jones – 4.39
3. Chris Godwin – 4.42
4. DeVante Parker – 4.45
5. Keenan Allen – 4.71
6. Kenny Golladay – 4.50
7. Amari Cooper – 4.42
8. DJ Moore – 4.42
9. Jarvis Landry – 4.51
10. DeAndre Hopkins – 4.57

Perhaps the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory with guys like Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman has changed the thought process around what a receiving core should look like. But history and numbers in general show us that’s not the case.

Speed is just one of the many traits that makes up a wide receiver. It’s not a negative in any sense of the way but often, guys that are known solely for their speed end up being depth and situational players. The Eagles need more than that with their current situation.

It seems as though that Alshon Jeffery’s time in Philadelphia is dwindling. Jeffery has been the Eagles go to receiver for the past few seasons but injuries and locker room issues may spell an early end to his quite successful time here. This will leave the Eagles with a 33yr old DeSean Jackson, Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the main targets in the receiving room further emphasizing the importance of addressing the position correctly.

Philadelphia has to make sure they’re evaluating the receiver position deeper than just speed and 40 times, so that this team could get back to moving the ball freely on offense.