Eagles: Who’s the odd man out at wide receiver?

While the Eagles don’t have an abundance of top end talent in their wide receiver room, they do have several young wideouts with great potential heading into the 2021 season.

The the top-four seem to be set in stone for the most part. DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, and Travis Fulgham are all locks to make the final roster — barring a complete disaster. Assuming the team opts to keep six wideouts on the active roster, only two of the five remaining receivers will make the cut.

The battle for the fifth spot will likely come down to John Hightower, Quez Watkins, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Based on pure talent alone, Watkins should be the man for the job. In his limited playing time last season, Watkins did some really nice things with the ball in his hands. He finished the year with 7 receptions on 13 targets for 106 yards and 1 touchdown.

Hightower possesses a similar skill set, but his rookie season was pretty abysmal — even for a fifth round draft pick. On 29 targets last season, Hightower only caught 10 balls for 167 yards. His 34.5 percent catch rate was the worst of any wideout in the league with at least 20 targets. Not to mention the 3 drops he had on the season as well.

Then we have everyone’s favorite draft bust, JJAW. The former second round pick followed up his terrible rookie season with an even more atrocious sophomore campaign in 2021. He finished the year with 4 receptions for 85 yards.

Maybe this new coaching staff can unlock something in JJAW that we haven’t seen yet, but it’s very unlikely. He’s a prime candidate to get cut.

So John Hightower fills out the wide receiver depth chart as the sixth guy, right? Not exactly.

Typically, the sixth wideout on the roster contributes on special teams. Hightower played 0 special teams snaps last season. The team went out and acquired Michael Walker earlier this offseason from the Jaguars, who primarily played special teams in his lone year with the Jags.

There’s a scenario where Hightower comes into camp and impresses the coaching staff enough that they’re forced to keep him on the roster. Even if he doesn’t play special teams, if Hightower proves to be a solid contributor on the offense, he’ll earn a roster spot. But, if Hightower shows little to no development during training camp, don’t be shocked if the team opts to go with Walker as the sixth receiver and special teams ace.

With training camp just under two weeks away, we’ll get our answer to this question soon enough.

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