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Friday, February 21, 2014
Combine prep: Wide receivers

By Phil Sheridan

PHILADELPHIA -- It is the position with the highest diva-per-capita ratio in football. That makes it tougher for the Eagles to shop for wide receivers, general manager Howie Roseman said.

“Being able to block -- obviously, we run the ball in Philadelphia,” Roseman said. “When you look at that, it’s an inherent toughness and willingness to do those little things that help. A lot of these guys in college, because they get the ball so much, they’re big-time guys, they’re not asked to do the dirty work. They’re asked to do the things that are fun. … For us, the receiver position in Philadelphia is going to be a well-rounded guy.”

There is plenty of tape of wide receivers running deep routes and making great catches, Roseman said. The combine gives the Eagles' decision-makers a chance to figure out which players are willing to do the “dirty work” that make Chip Kelly’s offense tough to defend.

Here are a few receivers the Eagles will likely focus on. A complete list is impossible, since Roseman said the position is so deep this year, there could be a receiver the Eagles like in every round. And since they are likely to be gone before the Eagles’ 22nd pick, we’re leaving Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Sammy Watkins of Clemson off this list.

Marqise Lee, USC. Some well-respected analysts, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock of NFL Network, have the 6-foot, 195-pound Lee rated ahead of Evans. Lee has excellent speed and very good hands. He’s also a kick returner, which could appeal to the Eagles.

Lee caught 57 passes in 2013. The year before, with a quarterback named Matt Barkley, Lee caught 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. Against Kelly’s Oregon Ducks that year, Lee caught 12 balls for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

Odell Beckham Jr., LSU. In his second first-round mock draft, Kiper had Beckham going to the Eagles at No. 22. At 5-foot-11, 208 pounds, Beckham has good speed and is also a potential return man.

Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State. It’s hard not to be intrigued by the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Benjamin, who was a sophomore in 2013. His perceived flaws -- less-than-elite speed, inconsistency in route running and occasional drops -- are mostly fixable with coaching.

His upside? As Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com puts it: “A monster-sized, intimidating, big-play receiver, Benjamin has the overall strength, length and wide catching radius that will demand extra coverage be rolled his way.”

Brandin Cooks, Oregon State. Another guy who will be familiar to Kelly, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Cooks put up remarkable numbers as a junior in 2013: 128 catches, 1,730 yards, 16 touchdowns. The Eagles would probably like a little more size -- they already have the diminutive DeSean Jackson -- but it’s hard to argue with that kind of production.

Other names to watch: Jarvis Landry, LSU; Davante Adams, Fresno State; Josh Huff, Oregon; Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Allen Robinson, Penn State.