Eagles Insider

Are the Eagles' young wide receivers any good?

Eagles Insider

They’ve all had highs and they’ve all had lows and when you add it all up, the lows outnumber the highs.

As the Eagles approach the end of the season, it’s hard to know exactly what they have in this large group of young wide receivers.

They've all gotten a taste of the NFL with mixed results. Some ups. Lots of downs.

Travis Fulgham had a remarkable five-game streak, only to disappear after that. John Hightower caught 50-yard bombs two weeks in a row before disappearing as well. Jalen Reagor has done some nice things but hasn't broken out the way the Eagles hoped. Quez Watkins has barely played but made a couple big plays Sunday. We’ll include J.J. Arcega-Whiteside only because he’s only 23 and a former second-round pick, but he’s been invisible all year.

Five young wide receivers, all rookies or in their second season, and not a lot to go on.

Assuming Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson and their massive salaries are gone in 2021, and without the cap space to do much free-agent shopping, the Eagles will very likely be relying on a young nucleus of unproven wideouts. 

Greg Ward — who’s still only 25 — isn’t going anywhere. And there’s always a chance Marquise Goodwin will be back in the mix. And they could keep trying to draft guys, although they have so many other needs to address.

For the most part, this group of youngsters looks like the future of the WR position. The Eagles certainly hope it is.

 

“I like the group,” Doug Pederson said Monday. “I like their athleticism, I like their enthusiasm, I like their work ethic during the week. The sky's the limit. You talk about the quarterback, the sky's the limit with these guys [too]. The more they play and the better they get, I think they can really become a solid group, and they're slowly working in that direction. I've been impressed with their skill and ability, and now it's a matter of just continuing to show up in games. I've challenged them during the week that they've got to show up. That's been my message to them, and they've done that. I've been impressed with that group.”

What exactly do the Eagles have in their young wideouts? Let’s take a look:

Travis Fulgham

Bio: 25 years old, 2nd season, 6th round (Lions)

Stats: 35 for 497, 4 TDs

Contract status: Exclusive rights free agent

One of the strangest seasons we’ve ever seen. Fulgham, in his first significant NFL action, came off the practice squad to become the league’s leading receiver from Week 3 through Week 7, only to disappear as quickly as he appeared. Fulgham has only 6 for 52 the last six games, although he did have a couple big catches late in the game Sunday in Arizona. Fulgham, who wasn't even on the roster until October, has struggled with route running and drops, but his five-game span in October and November is enough for the Eagles to have some pretty high expectations with a full offseason learning the system.

Jalen Reagor

Bio: 21 years old, rookie, 1st round (Eagles)

Stats: 27 for 351, 1 TD

Contract status: Signed through 2023

Reagor hasn’t been bad but hasn’t shown the explosiveness that was expected of him and has looked tentative at times. Part of that could be because of the lack of an offseason program and the two injuries that robbed him of valuable time both in the preseason and during the season. He still has the fifth-most receiving yards ever by an Eagles WR in his first nine career games (behind Jackson, Jordan Matthews, Fulgham and Jeremy Maclin). He may never be Justin Jefferson, but he should be a solid starting WR here. 

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Bio: 23 years old, 2nd year, 2nd round (Eagles)

Stats: 2 for 45, 0 TDs

Contract status: Signed through 2022

As disappointing as last year was for JJAW, this year was a disaster. He hasn’t caught a pass since October and hasn’t even gotten on the field in the Eagles’ last six games. Only one second-round WR in the last 50 years who played at least seven games has had fewer yards in his second season (Limas Sweed of the Steelers in 2009). Being a second-round pick generally buys you a few years, but it’s hard to see how Arcega-Whiteside fits in here next year. 

Quez Watkins

Bio: 22 years old, rookie, 6th round (Eagles)

 

Stats: 4 for 43, 1 TD

Contract status: Signed through 2023

Watkins got only 15 snaps all year until the last two games, and on Sunday he showed up with a 32-yard catch-and-run TD and a big 3rd-and-2 conversion in the fourth quarter. There’s not a lot to go on with Watkins, but on the touchdown he did a nice job securing the football, finding daylight and showing off his otherworldly wheels. He’s an intriguing prospect and you’d expect him to have a significant role moving forward.

John Hightower

Bio: 24 years old, rookie, 5th round

Stats: 10 for 167, 0 TD

Contract status: Signed through 2023

After catching nine passes for 166 yards the first seven games — including 50- and 59-yard bombs against the Ravens and Giants — Hightower disappeared off the face of the Earth. He had just one one-yard catch the last seven games and was inactive the last two. Hightower has tremendous speed but tends to play soft and needs to develop some strength and toughness to match his speed. Remains a prospect, but did not trend well this year.

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