6 Wide Receivers the Philadelphia Eagles Can Draft to Replace DeSean Jackson
There has been and will continue to be debate about the Philadelphia Eagles' decision to release DeSean Jackson, but the bottom line is that they now need to replace him. The 2014 NFL draft is the best way to accomplish that very difficult task.
But the better news is that they don't need to create a carbon copy of Jackson to still have a high-flying offensive attack. They're getting Jeremy Maclin back from injury, and Riley Cooper should step up as well.
GM Howie Roseman will assuredly be looking to grab a wideout in one of the first three rounds now, which is exciting news for Eagles fans because receiver is the deepest position in the deepest draft in a long time.
These players are all exceptional athletes, which is the one main factor that should help them contribute in Chip Kelly's offense.
Here are six receivers who could potentially replace Jackson on the Eagles.
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Brandin Cooks cemented himself into the first-round discussion with an extremely impressive combine after an equally impressive 2013 season that saw him win the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver.
He has a knack for getting open, using his combination of quickness, explosiveness and coordination to find holes in the defense.
His route running is remarkably well-rounded, according to Greg Peshek's wide receiver metrics over at Rotoworld. Peshek also calculated a 4.69 percent drop rate for the season, which is exceptional as well.
The only downside to Cooks is his 5'10" height and smallish hands, but that can be overcome in Philadelphia's offense as long as he's able to get the ball in space. He could be a dangerous and versatile threat for Nick Foles.
Marqise Lee, Southern California
If Kelly feels that he needs to make a serious splash and get a prime-time game-changer who will be ready to start right away, then Marqise Lee should be the man.
He would certainly carry some risk as a first-round selection with his injury history and penchant for bad drops. He really needs to work on his hands and technique, but he has some amazing natural talent.
The All-American plays a lot faster than his 4.52 40-yard dash would suggest, as he gets his real value not from sprinter speed but elusiveness, vision and determination.
Lee can find holes in the defense and will do everything he can to attack them. He's got average size (6'0", 192 pounds), but is incredibly tough and would win over Philadelphia fans from the start.
Josh Huff, Oregon
If the Eagles choose to sit back and wait a couple rounds to get a receiver, Josh Huff would be an ideal third or fourth-round option.
His connection to Kelly as an Oregon Duck is obvious, and he would likely be able to come right in and have an advanced understanding of the offense because of his experience.
Huff isn't the kind of guy who would be able to step in and be a big-time player right away, as he needs some seasoning and development before he'll make a consistent impact.
But his quickness and breakaway speed are tantalizing, and his 5'11" frame actually carries some solid bulk at 206 pounds. He could be a real gamebreaker, much in the same way Jackson was in the past.
Martavis Bryant, Clemson
A bit of a wild card in the draft discussion right now, Martavis Bryant is a polarizing prospect who is hard to get a read on. He seemingly came out of nowhere at the combine and entered the early-round discussion.
His measurables jump out. It's not often that a lanky 6'4", 211-pound receiver runs a 4.42 40-yard dash and has a 39" vertical.
There are certainly some concerns, however, as he is a really raw product who has been in the shadows of Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins during his college career.
But he certainly has a high ceiling and will be a guy who the Eagles take a long look at. He would be a great complement to Maclin out wide.
Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
Due to his playing at Ole Miss and having a low-key personality, Donte Moncrief is being severely overlooked as a prospect right now.
He showed off his incredible athleticism at the combine, but still couldn't get any love. At 6'2", 221 pounds, he's a well-built wideout who has a mixture of speed and power that culminates in a rare type of explosiveness.
Moncrief ran a 4.40 40, had a 39.5" vertical and 132" broad jump, which tied him for the best jump of all receivers. Raymond Summerlin at Rotoworld crunched some numbers and declared Moncrief to be a "metric all-star".
His combination of height, weight, 40 time, vertical and broad jumps were the ninth-best since 1999, and he scored significantly higher than any other receiver in this class. If that's not intriguing enough for Kelly and Foles, I don't know what is.
Paul Richardson, Colorado
Finally, we get to the player who may be the most similar to Jackson in size and speed. At 6'0", 175 pounds with 4.40 speed, Paul Richardson will remind a lot of people of old No. 10. I actually picked Richardson in my first Eagles mock of the year just a couple weeks ago.
Richardson plays with a toughness that Jackson seemed to lack at times, however, and was a team captain and leader on a relatively dismal Colorado squad.
He put up gaudy numbers in college, averaging 16.2 yards per catch and scoring 10 touchdowns in 2013. There's no better deep threat in this class than Richardson.
His ability to slice up a defense is impressive, and he will flat-out make defenders look silly once he gets in the open field. He may not have the makings of a No. 1 NFL receiver, but he could be a dangerous No. 2, and may be available in the third round because of how deep this class is.