The Philadelphia Eagles added a ton of weapons on offense, but what will they produce on the field in 2017?
If you put a name on the Philadelphia Eagles 2017 offseason, it would have to include second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. “Getting Wentz Help” sounds like it would fit perfectly because that is exactly what the Eagles did this offseason. It was evident in 2016 that the Eagles did not have enough around their talented rookie quarterback. The lack of talent hindered Wentz at times and was an obvious need during the offseason.
Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas clearly had a plan in place to make sure their franchise guy would have more than enough weapons in 2017. For starters, Philly’s wide receiver core, regarded as the worst in the NFL last season, needed to be improved. That is why Roseman made sure he got former Chicago Bears wide receiver, Alshon Jeffery. The 6-4 and 230-pound pass catcher was the best receiver on the market, and the Eagles were lucky enough to land him.
Along with Jeffery, the Eagles signed former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith. He had a bad year in 2016, but Smith is a guy that is known to stretch the field and be a big play target—something Wentz and the Eagles desperately needed last season.
The additions did not just stop at wide receiver. Philly signed free agent running back, LeGarrette Blount. The former New England Patriots Super Bowl champion led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdown last season and gives Wentz a running back to trust.
Philadelphia attacked free agency for Wentz, and that carried over to the draft as well. They drafted three offensive players in the 2017 NFL Draft, two receivers and one running back. Shelton Gibson and Mack Hollins were substantial additions to their once-sorry receiver room and running back Donnel Pumphrey has some serious NFL potential.
With all of these additions, it will be interesting to see which players pan out and which fail to reach their potential. Regardless, here is a projection for all of the new offensive weapons statistics in 2017.
Shelton Gibson, WR
Gibson, taken in the fifth round, could end up being one of the most impactful players from the Eagles 2017 draft class. He may never be a receiver that can run underneath routes and be your slot receiver, but Gibson has a unique, elite trait: his deep ball ability. The former West Virginia Mountaineer can fly and is a player that can change they dynamic of the game with one play.
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It will be interesting to see where he falls on the depth chart, but no matter where that is, he will make some plays in 2017. The Eagles need a player like him, one that can stretch the field and run deep to catch a bomb from Wentz. In his rookie season, look for Gibson to make some big plays and show that he has a future in the league running past defenders.
Prediction: 30 receptions, 500 yards, 4 touchdowns
Mack Hollins, WR
Hollins got drafted before Gibson, but I feel he will have less of an impact early in his career — on offense. The former North Carolina Tar Heel wide receiver failed to catch over 35 passes in any season at UNC. However, he did score 20 career touchdowns. The reason for his lack of catches is his lack of ability to be anything more than a guy that can stretch the field. For that reason, I feel Hollins will not play as much as Gibson, who I value higher as a deep threat.
2017 looks like a year for Hollins to develop his skill set. Luckily for the Eagles, he brings a ton to the table on special teams. Many felt he was the best special teams player in the entire draft class. Hollins covers punts and kicks with elite ability, which will cement himself a spot on this roster.
Prediction: 20 receptions, 280 yards, 1 touchdown
Donnel Pumphrey, RB
As I said before, Pumphrey has some serious NFL potential. Although to be realistic, that potential is based on the fact that he will never be a running back that carries the ball 200 or more times a season. Pumphrey’s fit in this offense is simple; he will be the guy that replaces Darren Sproles after 2017.
In college, Pumphrey will go down in history. He is the all-time leader in yards from scrimmage and put up video game numbers during his four years at San Diego State. With his 7,444 yards from scrimmage and 67 touchdowns, Pumphrey was an interesting topic for the NFL. With stats like that, there is obvious skill, but what is the problem?
Pumphrey stands at 5-8 and only weighs 176 pounds. And to make it worse, those 176 pounds were at the Combine, meaning he was most likely heavier to try and show he wasn’t too small. Even at 176 pounds, Pumphrey is too small to be anything more than a third-down back in my eyes. He runs with power, but that power is quickly exploited when a defender gets their hands on him. But that is okay. The Eagles do not need him to be a guy that carries the load, just like they have done with Sproles.
They need Pumphrey to be a weapon, and I believe he will be able to do that throughout his career. However, I am pumping the brakes for his rookie season, mainly because Sproles is still on the roster. If the Eagles trade Sproles before the year, Pumphrey will have better numbers.
Prediction: 35 carries, 175 yards, 1 touchdown / 30 receptions, 350 yards, 3 touchdowns
Torrey Smith, WR
Smith will be an interesting player to monitor throughout camp. His last two seasons in the NFL have been, well, bad. He only caught 53 passes for 930 yards and seven touchdowns in his two seasons in San Francisco. Those aren’t ideal numbers for a guy that has shown he can go for over 1,000 yards and catch 11 touchdowns. The reason to monitor him is that there is no guarantee that he will make the team.
I believe he will, and I think the Eagles will keep six wide receivers so that he will be one of them. If I am right, Smith will help the vertical passing game. I believe Gibson will move past him by the end of the season to become the primary deep threat, but if not, Smith has shown in his career he can be that guy.
He averages 17 yards per reception, so look for him to continue to catch big passes in 2017. Wentz loves to sling the ball and having a receiver like Smith who can run under the bombs will help. Smith may not be a high volume guy, but he will get his fair share of big plays during his first season wearing midnight green.
Prediction: 45 receptions, 720 yards, 5 touchdowns
LeGarrette Blount, RB
After the start of free agency and the 2017 NFL Draft, it was apparent the Eagles still had a huge need on their roster: a running back who can carry the load. That is why former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount was what they were missing. It took some time for Blount to pick his team, but he found the perfect fit in Philadelphia.
The Eagles have solid running back depth, but mainly just guys who can be weapons out of the backfield. Some feel Blount is just going to be used in short yardage situations, but I believe Blount will be the starter all season.
I fully expect the Eagles to lean on Blount during games and allow him to help Wentz and the offense. Last season Blount carried the ball a career-high 299 times. I do not think he will touch the ball 300 times in 2017, but I do think 250 is realistic. If the Eagles can run the ball effectively in 2017, the sky is the limit for their offense (or any offense).
Look for Blount to continue his impressive play from 2016, even if he doesn’t score 18 touchdowns. I think saying he will score half of those is fair and if the Eagles use him the way I believe they will, he should also run for 1,000 yards.
Prediction: 250 carries, 1,100 yards, 9 touchdowns
Alshon Jeffery, WR
Out of all the offensive additions this offseason, Alshon Jeffery is the one I am highest on and most excited to see fit in the Eagles offense. You could argue I am too high, but I honestly believe Jeffery is going to have a monster year in Philly.
Jeffery will take the Eagles offense to the next level. He’s everything the Eagles needed last year and is Wentz’s No. 1 target. He has had a rough past two seasons, but in 2013 and 2014, Jeffery was one of the best receivers in the NFL. I think he will get back to that form in 2017.
I believe that Jeffery will catch a ton of passes in 2017, a career high 97. However, I do not expect him to have over 1,300 yards. The reason being, I feel that he will be a guy they use underneath more and in the slot. That will give Wentz a reliable target and someone he can trust.
If you are a big fantasy football player, I would take Jeffery early in your drafts. He is poised to be the focal point of a passing offense that lacked any real threat in 2016. I expect him to get a significant volume of targets all season. I also expect him to be one of the best receivers in the league, again.
Prediction: 97 receptions, 1,300 yards, 11 touchdowns
Source: Fox Sports