EVERYWHERE I look it seems fans want a WR. [Kelvin Benjamin], [Mike Evans], [Brandin Cooks], [Cody Latimer]. There are more names but you get the idea. Even if it means trading up, in a year where we’re short on draft picks, fans want a guy to pick up the slack left by DeSean Jackson’s departure.
Fellow Eagles fans, I think we may be outsmarting ourselves here.
Even if only for depth purposes, the Eagles drafting a WR is practically a sure thing. But it occurs to me that Jackson’s replacement may not be a rookie. It could be Jeremy Maclin.
Maclin isn’t going to put up 1,300 yards of course, but he could be used to open up the box and continue to make it easier to run between the Tackles. I don’t know if anyone remembers when he was drafted, but a lot was made of him helping out with KR/PR duties because he had done so in college and he could also break arm tackles and make guys miss. Andy Reid gave it a whirl but not much came of it.
Fast-forward to today. Chip Kelly runs a system called the Spread. While it’s called that because you spread your opponent out horizontally, it also has a way of isolating defensive players from help. Maclin, if he can still break an arm tackle and/or make a guy miss, doesn’t need Jackson’s speed to be dangerous.
While Maclin may not be a home-run hitter, having a more consistent hitter is nothing to sneeze at. (Put another way: Maclin may not be Ryan Howard, but it’s hardly a bad thing if he’s Chase Utley.) If Maclin can make guys miss and break tackles, teams will cheat a Safety his way and that will strreeeeetch the box horizontally and make it easier for LeSean McCoy’s blockers. (Though I think McCoy could get blindsided a LOT more this year, because of this.)
A single WR replacing Jackson’s numbers won’t happen in 2014. No one on the roster is physically capable of it, and a rookie has to still learn how to read NFL coverages. However, the most impressive thing Jackson did last year can be somewhat duplicated, and the best man for that job (so far) is Jeremy Maclin.
Sidenote: Earlier this offseason I predicted that Maclin would post a number of career lows and still have what would be a good year. That of course was with me projecting him in a 3 WR formation along with Jackson.
Things have changed obviously, so I’m going change right along with them and re-vise those numbers accordingly. My new prediction for Maclin: 74 catches, 890 yards, 10 TD’s.