The Philadelphia Eagles have acquired WR Arrelious Benn and a seventh-round pick from Tampa Bay in exchange for a sixth-round pick and conditional draft pick in 2014.
Benn is a 6′ 2″, 220 lbs former second-round pick by the Bucs in the 2010 NFL draft. In his three year career, he has posted 59 receptions for 862 yards and five touchdowns. He also has some experience returning kickoffs as he averaged 23.5 YPR on 13 attempts last season.
Coming out of college, Benn was a highly rated receiver, though you wouldn’t know it by his stat line (159 catches for 2,221 yards and seven TDs over three years). Mike Mayock actually had him as his second-ranked wide receiver in the draft, behind only Dez Bryant.
He was viewed as basically an Anquan Boldin-type of receiver in that he was big, physical, not afraid to make the tough catch in traffic and had excellent power and body control. Though he wasn’t known for being a speed guy, he solidified himself as the second-best receiver in the draft after running a 4.43 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Through three years in the NFL, though, Benn has been inconsistent and has struggled with injuries. In his rookie season, he tore his ACL. The next two years were marred by knee sprains, a shoulder injury and a concussion.
In fact, his last year in college was much of the same as it was a down-year for him due to nagging injuries, including an bad ankle sprain in the first game of that season. Therefore, that makes it the last four consecutive seasons that he’s had injury issues.
The injuries and subsequent inconsistent performances are what led the Bucs to trade him for what is essentially just a conditional 2014 pick after spending a second-rounder on him just three years ago.
Remember, though, that Benn was not drafted by Greg Schiano so there was no “he’s my guy” type of mentality there. Injuries aside, Benn is still young (will turn 25 in September) and still has good upside.
This is what brings me to Jason Avant, the Eagles’ current slot receiver. Avant has been Mr. Reliable over the course of the last seven seasons. He’s not a dynamic receiver, but he has good hands and has often been a dependable third-down target over the years.
Some folks may disagree with me here, but I see Benn as a more dynamic Jason Avant.
Benn is a little bigger, a little stronger, and a little faster than Avant. Though Avant is the more poven of the two, Chip Kelly may be looking to upgrade the slot position with a low risk/high reward receiver that has more potential.
Avant is what he is, while Benn may not have scratched the surface of his potential yet.
Why do I think Avant is the one in danger and not someone like Damaris Johnson or Riley Cooper? That’s because Avant is the most similar to Benn in terms of what he brings to the table offensively and the slot receiver position seems to be the best fit for Benn on this team.
Johnson is the small, fast and shifty guy that Kelly will want to draw up special plays for. Cooper was the only other receiver on the roster last season that is over six feet tall. Kelly will likely want a good mix of big/strong and small/fast receivers.
Avant is also the oldest wide receiver on the current roster, as he will turn 30 next month.
In looking at the ages of the players the Eagles have acquired this free agency so far, it’s obvious they’re going with a youth movement.
I’m not saying I want Avant gone. I’m just saying that, if any receiver from the roster last season may get bumped out by the arrival of Benn, Avant is the most likely candidate.