DeSean Jackson's Potential Trade Will Drastically Change Eagles' Draft Strategy

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DeSean Jackson's Potential Trade Will Drastically Change Eagles' Draft Strategy
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles' addition of new head coach Chip Kelly brought about some drastic changes in the team's offensive scheme. His fast-paced, high-octane system allowed the Eagles to finish the 2013 season ranked fourth in points per game with an average of 27.6 and ninth in passing yards per game, averaging 256.9 yards per contest.

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson was an instrumental part of the team's offensive prowess.

Last season, Jackson recorded 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns as the team's most prolific receiver.

However, things changed for the Eagles in a big way in early March.

Reports surfaced that the Eagles were potentially looking to trade the wide receiver—who is known for his diva attitude as much as his on-field prowess.

On Tuesday, Derrick Gunn of CSN reported that the Eagles were indeed taking calls about Jackson. He also reported the Eagles' potential asking price, according to a source familiar with the situation:

The team has taken inquiries from the 49ers and Patriots, Gunn has learned from a league source, and notified the Pro Bowl wideout early last week that it’s not shopping him but is listening to potential suitors.

Also according to the source, the Eagles are seeking at least a third-round pick and potentially more for Jackson, whose career-best 1,332 yards last season ranked ninth among NFL receivers. Jackson also tied a career high with nine touchdowns and averaged 16.2 yards per reception, third-highest among wideouts with at least 80 receptions.

Things escalated further on Saturday, as Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reported that the Carolina Panthers were one team that had already inquired about trading for Jackson's services.

 

The way things are going, a trade almost seems inevitable.

If Jackson does depart from Philadelphia, the team's draft strategy will drastically change.

With Jackson in the fold, it could be speculated that the Eagles' draft focus was on the defensive side of the ball. After all, the team finished dead last in the league against the pass last season, allowing an average of 289.8 yards per game through the air.

In need of pass-rushers, a safety and additional help at cornerback to help quell these defensive woes, the Eagles had plenty of options in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.

That has all gone out the window.

At the moment, the Eagles stand to lose Jason Avant to free agency. The team re-signed Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin; however, Cooper isn't a legitimate No. 1 target, and Maclin's injury concerns continue to linger.

Philadelphia cannot afford to take a step backward offensively. They need playmakers around quarterback Nick Foles and should look to a deep draft class at the wide receiver position to bolster the ranks.

One intriguing prospect at No. 22 overall is wide receiver Brandin Cooks from Oregon State. The speedy Cooks dominated the NCAA in 2013, recording 120 receptions for 1,670 yards and 15 touchdowns.

He's the kind of game-changer that the Eagles offense needs.

At the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Cooks showed that his blazing-fast game film was no fluke. He ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the combine—the fastest of any wide receiver in attendance.

Cooks isn't the biggest receiver at 5'10" and 189 pounds; however, his speed and versatility would make him a great chess piece in Kelly's offensive system.

NFL.com has this assessment of Cooks:

Short, speedy, nifty-footed receiver who was unaffected by the departure of Steelers 2013 third-rounder Markus Wheaton, establishing himself as a playmaker in his own right by leading the nation with 133 yards per contest as a junior. Projects as a useful slot receiver with run-after-catch ability and some utility as an outside receiver.

Simply put, if the Eagles offense is to remain one of the NFL's elite, additional help at the wide receiver position is necessary should Jackson depart.

By bringing in a top-tier prospect from the first round of this year's draft, Philadelphia will be able to recover quickly from the loss of Jackson.

The Eagles will certainly look to bolster their secondary as well; however, that will have to wait until after the first round. After all, with additional draft picks from trading Jackson, the team will have plenty of opportunities to improve its roster through the draft.

 

All combine measurements and results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.

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