As the Philadelphia Eagles prepare for Thursday nights preseason finale against the New York Jets, they do so with a pretty good situation going on among their receiving targets, despite the loss of Jeremy Maclin for the 2013 season. Through three preseason games the Eagles have amassed 759 passing yards on 63 total receptions and averaging 12.04 yards per catch.
But who are the Eagles top 5 leading receivers so far? I have factored in four primary categories to distinguish the Birds top contenders; receptions, yards, YPC, and TD’s.
Cooper has been ok, not great, just so-so. Through three preseason games Cooper has recorded four catches for 55 yards (13.75 YPC) and one touchdown that came off a nine-yard pass. Cooper is the top candidate to fill in for Jeremy Maclin for the 2013 season. But he has players nipping at his toes eager to take the spot from him.
Celek has accumulated 70 yards on seven receptions (10 YPC) but hasn’t been able to assist the Eagles with putting points on the scoreboard. Still, we know Celek is a more than capable receiving threat who likes to hurdle defenders and then do the Captain Morgan in the endzone. While the celebrating in the endzone might have to come to an end (thanks for that Goodell, it’s hurting a lot of people). But I’m sure Celek is planning more hurdling in the near future.
Impressive, solid size (6-2, 210) and making a name for himself within the Eagles organization. Salas has recorded five receptions good for 81 yards (16.2 YPC) and a touchdown. I know it is expected that Riley Cooper lands the job as the No. 2 wide-out. But if Kelly was basing the roster off of production alone, Salas would have Cooper beat. If Salas wants to win the job, he needs to show Chip Kelly that he can make up the difference in size with things like speed, solid route running, and exceptional hands.
It seems as though Jason Avant can help the team get down field, but then isn’t asked to participate on touchdown drives. In 2012, Avant 53 receptions for 648 yards…not a single touchdown recorded. Through three preseason games this year, Avant leads the team in receptions with 10 and has 120 yards to show for it (12.0 YPC). And if you guessed he doesn’t have a single TD to show for his efforts, you would have guessed correct.
However, Avants preseason succes despite not having a TD bodes well for Chip Kelly. If Avant make the team Kelly has a known slot receiver who can make spectacular catches. But if Chip Kelly views someone like Salas as a viable slot option, Avant could become trade bait for WR needy teams.
Did you think it would be any other name listed here besides DeSean Jackson’s?
Jackson tops the list of receivers, as to be expected, with a moderate six receptions in the first three preseason games. Jackson appears to be in mid-season form evident by his 123 receiving yards however tops every other receiver currently on the Eagles roster.
But to truly appreciate Jackson’s preseason achievements you must look at his average which tells you he’s not only in mid-season form, but Pro Bowl form also. Jackson is averaging 20.5 yards per catch, a vast improvement over his two-year “slump” (2011: 16.6 / 2012: 15.6) — although a lot of NFL receivers would love to have a slump like Jackson. You can clearly see Chip Kelly has brought new life in the Eagles organization and clearly Jackson is all in on the Kelly system.