Should the Philadelphi Eagles Go With Category or Productivity?

Haran KnightCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2009

As a long time fan of the Wu Tang Clan, I always find myself singing to myself "Can It Be That It Was All So Simple!" Donovan McNabb probably does the same thing when he thinks back to 2004. A 104 passer rating. Thirty-one touchdown passes. All of these things came with a surprising ease because of brash wide receiver named Terrell Owens.

Owens was considered an arrogant cancer to the Eagles locker room and was ultimately banished from the team midway through the 2005 season. Was Owens wrong? Likely.  Could the Eagles front office have tried to establish a stronger relationship? Very much so. Regardless, nobody can deny T.O.'s work ethic and his ability to produce on the field.

Since Owens' departure, Eagles fans have been crying out loud for a No. 1 receiver.

In 2006 that guy was supposed to be Donte Stallworth. Stallworth was okay, but chronic hamstring issues caused him to miss too much time for him to be retained. He's been a No. 3 option ever since (with the Patriots and Browns).

Kevin Curtis was considered a No. 1 in 2007. He was okay, but not enough.  Reggie Brown started the 2008 season as the No. 1 option, yet he ended it healthy on the sideline in sweatpants. The No. 1 option ended up being rookie DeSean Jackson, but fans feel he's not big enough.

That leads to the question: What is a true No. 1 wide receiver?

The unofficial description is a guy around the size of 6'2" 215 pounds, commands double teams, and has the potential of getting 100 receptions, 1,400 rec yds, 14 TDs. Because of that, people don't want to ordain Jackson as the future No. 1 even though he's shown potential to be a superstar (sort of like Steve Smith in Carolina).

Some fans don't want free-agent-to-be T.J. Houshmandzadeh because they feel he's not a true No. 1. Let's forget the title "No.1" for a second and look at how T.J.'s style of play (physical possession third down target) would complement Jackson and Curtis.

You're talking about the potential of having the greatest WR tandem in Eagles history. None of them need to be a No.1 because they all would command attention and can produce big numbers.

Wide receiver isn't the only the only position where category is an issue. Every year the Eagles supposedly are in need of a big, power running back. In the 2007 draft, the Eagles addressed that an selected Tony Hunt in the third round.  Now, Hunt definitely had the size but his football mindset was far from powerful and one-and-a-half years after he was drafted he was out of football.

McNabb is another example. For years he was determined to be a pocket passer instead of a running quarterback. It got to the point where it seemed that he forgot that his legs combined with his arm made him a lethal threat to produce victories for the Eagles.

As the NFL approaches the free agency period and teams prepare for the April Draft, let's forget the categories for a second and look at players and ask "Can this guy fit in with this team and produce positively when he's called upon?"

If picking a running back in the first round do you a) Go with the big powerful Chris "Beanie" Wells because he's a big back? or b) Knowing the Eagles pass-first philosophy, go with LeSean "Shady" McCoy, who's good at rushing AND catching out of the backfield?

Doing that, a big back at lesser value with the potential to still produce a lot is probably going to be available on day two (i.e. Rashad Jennings, Andre Brown, and Arian Foster).

Category? Productivity? How do you balance the two? How the Eagles approach that this off season will determine what the future holds for this championship deprived franchise.