The hits keep coming for the Philadelphia Eagles’ WR corps. Arrelious Benn will join Jeremy Maclin on the injured reserve list after becoming the second receiver (and third Eagle overall) to suffer a torn ACL.
Although Benn has never played a snap in an Eagles uniform, he was likely to make the 53-man roster this year and be a part of the WR corps, especially after Maclin went down.
The Eagles usually keep five wide receivers on their roster, sometimes six. Well, that’s what they’ve historically done under Andy Reid anyway. Five is probably the average number for most NFL teams as well.
The current pecking order, if you go by the Eagles’ latest unofficial depth chart, goes like this:
The first team is DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper, second team is Jason Avant and Damaris Johnson and third team is Ifeanyi Momah and Russell Shepard. That means that right now, Momah and Shepard are fifth and sixth in a position group that will keep at least five players.
So theoretically, one of them will make the final cut. If Kelly decides to keep six wide receivers, we could see both of them make it. For now, though, these two receivers could be battling for the fifth and final WR spot.
After the Eagles signed Momah, he quickly became everyone’s favorite dark horse because of his towering size and and unbelievable speed to go along with that size.
Momah stands at 6′ 7″ and weighs 240 lbs. He clocked a 4.4 40-yard dash time at Boston College’s pro day back in March.
Although that combination of size and speed doesn’t automatically equate to success as a football player, it’s enough to grab your attention and find out more, hence why the Eagles signed him.
- Momah was also versatile enough (Chip Kelly loves versatility, right?) that Boston College would actually play him at defensive end in third-and-long situations. But, don’t worry, the Eagles are interested in him strictly as a wide receiver.
His college stats aren’t anything to brag about with just 39 career catches for 615 yards and six touchdowns. He wasn’t even a full time receiver for that long before a knee injury cost him the 2011 college season and then in 2012 he was declined a sixth year of eligibility.
Therefore, he hasn’t played organized football in two years. To his credit, he was off to a great start to the 2011 season when he caught eight passes for 157 yards in Week 1 before tearing his ACL.
That’s enough to make you wonder how that season would have gone for him had he not gotten injured.
At Boston College’s pro day, Momah was impressive enough to intrigue Chip Kelly and the Eagles. Here were his measurables, as per Football Nation:
In parenthesis is where he ranked as compared to the wide receivers at this year’s NFL combine:
- 40-yd dash: 4.45s (T-10th)
- Vertical jump: 37.5″ (5th)
- Broad jump: 10’9″ (T-5th)
- 3-cone drill: 6.70s (4th)
- 20-yd shuttle: 4.08s (8th)
That’s pretty impressive, especially considering his significantly larger size than most, if not all, of the wide receivers at the combine.
For a comparison of another tall receiver you know well, here are a few measurables I could dig up for Plaxico Burress when he came out of college: 4.59 in the 40, 33 inch vertical and a 9′ 7″ broad jump.
Momah shattered those numbers and is one inch taller and 10 lbs heavier than Burress.
The Eagles haven’t had a receiver of Momah’s size since Harold Carmichael, who was 6′ 8″, 225 lbs. Carmichael’s career in Philly ended with him holding the team record in career catches, yards and touchdowns.
How nice would it be to have a receiver of this size and athleticism? You can’t tell me you aren’t at least intrigued by his potential and if he can translate that to the field.
Reports about Momah’s play in training camp so far have been a little mixed, but that’s to be expected given his situation. In reading through numerous beat reporters’ tweets and notes about camp, what I’ve summized is that he has been “okay”, or in other words he isn’t doing anything to stand out (good or bad).
Momah is extremely raw, but while at first he was a real long shot and a likely practice squad candidate, he now has a legitimate chance to make the roster. He lacks experience and playing time, though he definitely has the physical tools to not only make the roster, but to have an impact on the field.
And by the way, his name is pronounced “e-FAH-nee MOE-ma” if you hadn’t heard that already.
Russell Shepard may be a name you’ve heard recently if you’ve been following reports out of training camp. He’s a 6′ 1″, 195 lbs undrafted free agent receiver out of LSU.
He’s getting the most buzz by the beat reporters who observe practice every day by making some nifty catches and putting in extra time. Hell, if you believe Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com, Shepard could be the starter opposite DeSean Jackson come opening day.
Frank says Shepard is “dominating Eagles camp” (though that was derived from a quote from Bennie Logan) and the No. 2 receiver position is “Shepard’s job to lose.”
Coming out of college, Shepard was seen as a jack-of-all-trades kind of player but a master of none. He was a highly recruited QB coming out of high school, but in college was utilized as both a rusher and a receiver and never really settled in on a primary position.
He actually finished his college career with more rushing yards than receiving yards, but his play didn’t warrant an invite to the NFL combine in April. His measurables at his pro day were mediocre as well and that, combined with his lack of a true position, were the reasons why he went undrafted.
With that said, since versatility is high on Kelly’s list of desired attributes, Shepard stands a fighting chance if he keeps up the good work.
However, with all due respect to Frank, we have to remember that there have been “camp stars” in the past that completely disappeared once the games began. Shepard going from being undrafted to starting in Week 1 is an extreme long shot, even considering the injuries at the position the Eagles have sustained.
Riley Cooper will be the starter opposite DeSean Jackson on opening day, barring nothing else ridiculous happens (between “slur gate” and another injury).
When it comes down to decision time, much will depend on how many roster spots Kelly decides to devote to the wide receivers. Under Andy Reid, that number was either five or six (usually five) and it’s a good bet that Kelly will do the same.
The Eagles have other receivers on the roster who will also be competing (Greg Salas has generated a little buzz) and they’ll likely add one or two more for the rest of camp, but this is really about Momah and Shepard.
For those two guys, this is the chance of a lifetime.
They should request Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” as a regular part of the practice play list –
“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?”
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