The Eagles are interested in wide receivers.
It's something you might miss if you just glanced over their roster, but it's true -- this team wants an early wide receiver. DeSean Jackson was just acquired on the cheap from Tampa Bay, but that speedster Z role has been a carousel the past few seasons, with Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace making the first visits. It's unreasonable to expect the 32-year-old to stay more than 2 seasons.
Alshon Jeffery, on the other hand, is likely locked in for the next 3 seasons. The 29-year-old is a dominant player at the X-receiver for the Eagles, and he's a mainstay on the team.
But 2015 first-round selection and slot receiver Nelson Agholor sees his contract expiring after this season, with his fifth-year option ($9.5M) already presenting a tough pill to swallow. Agholor struggled with consistency early in his career, though he's turned out consecutive, productive seasons the last two years.
But is he beyond a replacement-level player?
The Eagles have brought in a ton of slot receiver options in pre-Draft visits, and it seems they're willing to move on from Agholor as soon as this season. As Philadelphia looks to add deep vertical elements to their passing game, as well as a new slot receiver, these are the prospects they're likely to target.
Early: Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
It's easiest to see how Samuel's role with the Gamecocks translates to Agholor's role with the Eagles. Both got quick, schemed targets designed to maximize run-after-catch abilities. Both split time between the slot and wide alignments, and were asked to run a smorgasbord of routes from those alignments. Both use their route-running to separator.
I like Samuel better in contested situations, despite the fact that he's a bit smaller in stature and has a narrower catch radius. It comes down to Samuel's thickness, as he's a stacked player who is unafraid of contact. Long-term health might be a concern here, but Samuel's an instant starter and potential upgrade in Agholor's role.
Middle: Emanuel Hall, Missouri
Hall is the player that reminds me most of Agholor in this class -- matter of fact, that's my comp for him. Hall spent the majority of his time outside at Missouri, unlike Agholor's slot alignment for the Eagles, but both are taller, narrower receivers with easy athleticism. The fluidity with which Hall snaps off his breaks or cuts when running with the football are both highly reminiscent of Agholor.
Hall's hands also remind you of Agholor's -- the bad ones, from 2016. Agholor had some yips, but Hall has real catch technique issues that muddy what was otherwise a strong downfield profile with the Tigers. If he can generate some more consistency there, he'll be a great deep threat at the next level.
Late: Dillon Mitchell, Oregon
Like Hall, Mitchell has some issues deep: he struggles to track and locate the football early in reps, and is accordingly forced into late and severe adjustments to balls he should have caught. His hands aren't super trustworthy and his willingness to elevate against contact is spotty.
But again, we've got a wicked loose athlete who can make players miss in space and shake man coverage from the slot. Mitchell projects best to the underneath/gadgety role that has been Agholor's floor during his time in Philly, with big play potential as a returner/screen target.