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The hype train for the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles is continuing to chug along.
This time, it’s Pro Football Focus chiming in as they share their wide receiver rankings and tiers for the 2022 season. They ranked a total of 32 receivers and classified them into several tiers.
The new man in town, A.J. Brown, came in at No. 10, which placed him in “Tier 2: Young Talents on the Cusp of Tier 1.” They write:
The 2022 NFL offseason featured several blockbuster moves, including the trade of wide receiver A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The birds now have one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL. Throughout his three-year professional career, Brown ranks top-five in both receiving grade and yards per route run. He is an excellent complementary piece to 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith.”
Second-year wideout DeVonta Smith found himself in the final tier of PFF’s list, “Tier 5: Up-and-Comers.” PFF ranked Smith at 31, right ahead of the final receiver to make the cut, Chicago’s Darnell Mooney. PFF’s explanation:
Like his former Alabama teammate Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith kept getting better as his rookie campaign progressed. From Week 9 on in 2021, he ranked 11th in receiving grade (81.9) while not dropping a single one of his 56 targets. He finished the year as the 18th-most valuable wide receiver in the NFL, according to PFF WAR. Smith was heavily utilized downfield over that span, generating the fifth-highest average depth of target, and he held up his end of the bargain.
Many in the NFL community were concerned about how the 6-foot-1, 175-pound wide receiver would handle physicality in NFL with his thin frame, but it wasn’t an issue in Year 1. Smith is capable of taking a leap into one of the top tiers of talents at the position in the coming seasons.“
Since I began watching the Eagles as a wee lad in the early 2000’s, they’ve never had a wide receiver duo this young and this talented. Some may point to the DeSean Jackson/Jeremy Maclin years, and that’s fair. But did either of those guys have higher ceilings than either Brown or Smith?
Jackson was the fastest player in football for a stretch in the early 2010’s, but he was never a truly elite receiver. Maclin had one 1,000 yard season with the Eagles and while he was a more complete receiver than Jackson, he never reached the heights of a top-8 pass catcher.
Smith went over 900 receiver yards as a rookie, breaking the Eagles rookie receiving yards record in the process. Brown has two 1,000 yard seasons in his three-year career; he would have went over 1,000 last season if he wasn’t hampered by injuries.
Back in 2010, Maclin put up 964 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns while Jackson accumulated 1,056 yards and 6 touchdowns. That should be the benchmark for the Brown-Smith tandem. And I think that’s an easy benchmark to surpass — if Jalen Hurts plays up to par this season.
This sort of turned into a comparison piece between Brown/Smith and Maclin/Jackson and that wasn’t the intention. But the comparison is obviously relevant. From a pure talent standpoint, Brown and Smith have 1,500+ yard capabilities. The same couldn’t be said for Jackson and Maclin, even in their hayday.
For the first time in my life, the Eagles have two elite pass catchers on the outside. If everything goes according to plan, they could end the year as the unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver tandem in the entire NFL.