This may be one of the deepest wide receiver draft classes in years. Sammy Watkins leads the group, looking like a future All-Pro player, but players like Mike Evans, Marqise Lee and Brandin Cooks also have all the tools to be standouts.
Watkins is obviously out of reach, being unlikely to make it out of the top 10, or even top five. A lot of buzz has been generated around Texas A&M's Evans, who has been linked to Philly all offseason and has visited the team. Lee and Kelvin Benjamin have also been noted as options.
Each of those options, however, has glaring disadvantages in some shape or form. Evans is a dominant player, but the Philadelphia Eagles only have six draft picks this season. It would require a very large investment to acquire him, especially when there are so many needs on defense.
Lee is coming off a knee injury, and there is no guarantee he will return at full strength. Cooks is a small player, being 5'10", and would still possess DeSean Jackson's weaknesses due to size. And Benjamin, while a big physical target, is a bit slow and catches with his body too often.
For the Eagles, the diamond in the rough is Penn State's Allen Robinson, a player who has slipped relatively under the radar.
Robinson is a large receiver, standing 6'2" and weighing 220 pounds. Unlike the Eagles' 6'3" Riley Cooper, however, Robinson does not shy away from contact. And with an excellent 39" vertical, Robinson could be a dominant red-zone threat.
What Robinson also brings to the table are great hands and fantastic body control. If you don't believe me, watch this breathtaking 54-yard touchdown catch:
Note how Robinson adjusts naturally to the underthrown ball, timing his jump perfectly. And remarkably, he manages to seamlessly regain his balance and accelerate to the end zone.
As good of a player as Jackson was, he was never a true go-to receiver due to his small stature. Larger targets, however, are never completely covered. With Robinson, the Eagles could finally have a go-to receiver, someone the quarterback could turn to in times of duress.
But Robinson is not just a large target. He is underrated running after the catch. He does not possess a blazing 40-yard dash time, running a 4.60 at the combine, but what's more important than straight-line speed is agility and acceleration. Larry Fitzgerald (4.63), Anquan Boldin (4.71) and Jerry Rice (4.71) have all had tremendous success despite running slower 40 times.
Robinson makes up for his lack of elite speed by changing direction quickly and having great field vision.
Look at how he runs this screen pass from the slot. He turns a short pass into a 25-yard gain:
Robinson ran a full route tree at Penn State. He was used for anything from slants and screens to go routes. A player of such talent and versatility would have Kelly salivating. The possibilities with Robinson to exploit mismatches, due to his size as well as his agility, would be endless.
With a 4.60 40 time, Robinson will never be the deep threat Jackson was. But he would be a more physical player capable of running more routes due to his size. He would be the perfect complement alongside Jeremy Maclin.
Maclin, who ran a 4.45 40 time, would take on Jackson's old responsibility of stretching the field. If a healthy Maclin can draw safeties away from the line of scrimmage and give Robinson room to run after the catch, the Eagles offense could be even more deadly in 2014.
The best part about Robinson, though, is he may very well be available in the second round. Robinson's lack of an elite 40 time places him below players like Evans, Lee and Cooks. It's hard to imagine more than four wide receivers will go in the first round.
This is especially true if there is a run on quarterbacks this season, as has been common in seasons past. Teams that were hurt by last season's poor quarterback class may feel compelled to ensure they get their signal-callers this year. Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater will likely be selected within the top 10 picks at the latest. QB-needy teams, such as Buffalo or Minnesota, may reach for players like Derek Carr and Tom Savage.
The priority of the Eagles should still be to upgrade the defense at 22nd overall. The receiver class is deep enough that it is more important to add a punishing safety like Calvin Pryor. Selecting Robinson in the second round would give the Eagles the perfect player for their scheme and for the best value.
Robinson, alongside Maclin, Cooper, Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, would give the Eagles one of the best passing attacks in the NFL.
Follow Yueh Ho on Twitter @YuehHo_BR.
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