Saturday, May 10, 2014
Eagles add pass-catchers on Day 2
By Andy Jasner
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles made a major upgrade at wide receiver.
It just took a day longer than most people expected.
The Eagles entered the second round of the NFL draft with the No. 54 overall pick, but they must have sensed that Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews wouldn't last. So they worked out a trade with the Tennessee Titans to move up to No. 42 while sending the No. 122 overall pick in the fourth round to Tennessee in the process.
Then, at No. 86, the Eagles picked wide receiver Josh Huff, a former standout at the University of Oregon under coach Chip Kelly.
After releasing wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, the Eagles seemed to have a need at this position. That much was evident by their actions on Friday.
"I think the one thing we talked about is man coverage," Kelly said of Matthews' ability. "The one thing he does is catch the ball in traffic. He made an unbelievable amount of contested catches. You know, he's got such a wingspan and will go up and get it and can play both inside and outside. We're probably going to start him inside. If we've got Jeremy Maclin on one side and (Riley Cooper) on the other side and throw [Matthews] inside, and he has experience. So I think the kind of thing that would separate him from some other people is he does have experience.
"Only a couple guys in the draft that we felt you could at least see on film that played both inside and outside. Some are inside receivers, some are exclusively outside receivers. We felt he was one of those guys that could do both. He's got the speed to play on the outside. He's got the size. He can do a lot of the different things that we can do. The big thing for us is the intangible things that Jason Avant brought playing inside that slot receiver, being a physical guy, and I think he can do that along with exploiting man coverage."
Matthews is stepping into an ideal situation with the Eagles since they’re a bit thin at wide receiver. Matthews had 1,477 yards receiving last season, the third-highest total ever by an SEC receiver.
Many of those catches came in the middle of the field with defenders hanging all over him.
"My coaches always tell me, 'If you want to be a big receiver, you have to play big,'" Matthews said on a conference call. "That was always my mindset I took into my game. I always made sure I watched big receivers and watched how they scored in coverage and got open and caught the ball. I try to apply that to my game and make sure I can be a top receiver."
Huff was a top receiver at Oregon while accumulating 62 receptions for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. He averaged an impressive 18.4 yards per catch last season.
"He was the highest-rated guy we had [on the board]," Kelly said.