Eagles

2020 NFL draft grades: John Hightower has the tools everybody wants in a wide receiver

2020 NFL draft grades: John Hightower has the tools everybody wants in a wide receiver

The Eagles said they wanted to get faster, and say what you want about this draft, they've done that. John Hightower in the fifth round is just another example.

From a pure measurable standpoint, Hightower has the tools everybody wants in a wide receiver. The Boise State product is fast, with 4.4 speed. He's got a large catch radius at 6-foot-1 with 31.5-inch arms. And he produced his senior year, racking up 51 catches for 943 yards and eight touchdowns. He even returns kicks.

What's a guy like that doing in the middle of the fifth round?

For all his size and quickness, Hightower is not as polished as many of the receivers from his class. He's lean, at 189 pounds, and can struggle against press coverage. He's not necessarily great at tracking the deep ball or making the contested grab. And the level of competition in the Mountain West is far from the greatest.

So what we have here in Hightower is a raw talent the Eagles will need to develop if he's ever going to become a weapon in the passing attack, much less see the field.

That's also more or less the type of prospects you expect at this stage of the draft.

I look at the Eagles adding Jalen Reagor in the first round, another 4.4 guy (who purports to be faster than his time) and swapping picks for Goodwin, a true burner, and I see a team that's taking cues from the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Put fast players around your quarterback, ask questions later.

That's probably the best that can be said for Hightower, who tied for the eighth-best 40-yard dash by a receiver at this year's combine. He can run. He's got length. Just putting him on the field for a few snaps per game will intimidate defenses.

But let's not pretend the Eagles didn't draft a receiver who had a similar profile in Shelton Gibson at almost the exact same point in the draft three years.

Clearly, there's no guarantee the investment in Hightower is going to pay off. Nonetheless, he's the type of athlete you want your GM taking chances on with these later picks.

Grade: B+

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Eagle Eye podcast: What Jason Peters move means for Andre Dillard, plus much more

Eagle Eye podcast: What Jason Peters move means for Andre Dillard, plus much more

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Barrett Brooks take a long look at the Eagles’ decision to bring back Jason Peters.

They get into what the move means for Andre Dillard, whether Peters will ultimately end up back at left tackle, how long J.P. might be able to extend his career if he stays at guard, how long it will take him to adjust to a new position and and much more. 

They also looked at defensive tackle and defensive end on the All-Time Eagles Team and whether Fletcher Cox or Jerome Brown is the greatest defensive tackle in Eagles history. 



(0:42) — Jason Peters back with the Eagles to play right guard

(27:18) — Jerome vs. Fletcher 

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Eagles fans won't be allowed at games this fall, health officials say

Eagles fans won't be allowed at games this fall, health officials say

Eagles fans should start coming to grips with watching games from their couch in 2020.

After the city of Philadelphia cancelled "large public events" through February 2021 on Tuesday, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, health officials provided an update on the feasability of fans watching Eagles games in person.

Philadelphia Department of Health commissioner Thomas Farley and Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy made it sound all but certain that Lincoln Financial Field stands will be empty.

Per the Inquirer:

"I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they're proposing. I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there," Farley said. "I can't say what the plans are for the league, but from a safety perspective, they can play games but not [have] crowds."

"The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds. The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds," Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.

Abernathy said NFL guidelines also "remind teams that local authorities have the ability to ban fans, so I don't expect any issues."

"We have been in communication with the Eagles. We have told them our expectations are that they don't have fans," Albernathy said.

Whether other teams around the country will be able to host fans, based on differing guidance from state officials, remains to be seen. Earlier this month, reports emerged claiming the NFL is considering fan waivers for those interested in attending home games this season.

A season without home fans also means the Eagles stand to lose a sizable sum of money if the NFL plays its 17-week regular season as scheduled.

As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro noted, the Eagles will be one of the 10 teams most affected (financially) by a lack of fans at home games:

The Eagles in 2018 were tied for eighth in the NFL with $204 million in stadium revenue. Just the Cowboys, Patriots, Giants, Texans, Jets 49ers and Redskins made more.

In late June, the organization informed season ticket holders that their ticket installment payments would not be billed, fueling speculation that games would be played in empty stadiums this fall. 

Barring a drastic change in the pandemic's trajectory between now and early September, it seems that speculation was right.

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