With the emphasis on size that Chip Kelly has put on most of the players the Philadelphia Eagles have acquired this offseason, I have to wonder what he thinks about the wide receiver corps.
Kelly obviously prefers athletic big guys who play physical football. However, when you think about the Eagles’ wide receivers from last year, “big” and “physical” aren’t exactly the first words that jump in your head.
Our wide receivers are generally defined by DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, with “speed” being the main word that pops in your head when thinking about those guys. So, when you think of Eagles receivers, you typically think small and fast more-so than big and physical. Or perhaps you think about them in terms of fantasy football, where both of them are usually viewed as solid No. 2 or No. 3 receivers.
However, Kelly has been blatantly clear that he wants a bigger, more physical team at pretty much every position group. But, when we look at the WR corps from 2012, you notice that we had only one guy that was over 6 feet tall…
- Jackson: 5′ 10″ 175 lbs
- Maclin: 6′ 198 lbs
- Avant: 6′ 212 lbs
- Cooper: 6′ 3″ 222 lbs
- Johnson: 5′ 8″ 175 lbs
Maclin and Avant are about average size but each of them lacks a quality that Kelly seems to prefer. Avant isn’t exactly the athletic type (though he’s a solid slot receiver) and Maclin isn’t exactly the physical type (seems to try to avoid contact as much as possible).
Jackson and Johnson are the small, speedy guys that Kelly can utilize for a specific purpose. Cooper is the only guy with both the size and physicality that Kelly likes, so it’ll be interesting to see if he takes on a larger role this year (or gets cut?).
The Eagles never signed a premier free agent receiver nor did they draft one.
However, back in late March, the Eagles made a relatively non-chalant move by signing a wide receiver that nobody has ever heard of: Ifeanyi Momah.
Besides “who?”, the first thought most people had was: “long shot, camp body.” However, he the signing did catch a little flare because of two things: his size and speed.
Momah is a 6′ 7″, 240 lb wide receiver who clocked a 4.4 40-yard dash time at Boston College’s pro day.
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. However, he was off to a great start to the 2011 season when he caught eight passes for 157 yards before tearing his ACL in Week 1.
That’s enough to make you wonder how that season would have gone for him had he not gotten injured. But, that’s neither here nor there and Momah hasn’t played football since that game.
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 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 the possibility, maybe even hopeful.
Momah has plenty to prove and should be considered a long-shot right now. However, 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-feind-ee Mow-ma” if you hadn’t heard that already.
Here is a YouTube video of a workout, presumably from his pro day in March since the video was uploaded on March 31st:
In the middle of March, the Eagles sent their sixth-round draft pick and a conditional 2014 pick to Tampa Bay for WR Arrelious Benn and the Bucs’ seventh-rounder. So, in essence, the Eagles were able to get Benn for the mere price of moving down around 20 spots, depending on what the 2014 pick ends up being.
After Tampa drafted Benn in the second round of the 2010 draft, he has had a disappointing career so far. Two of his three seasons have been cut short by injuries as he was placed on IR in 2010 after tearing his ACL and then in 2012 for what was described as shoulder and knee injuries.
His best season was in 2011 when he caught 30 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns.
However, Benn was not drafted by current Bucs coach Greg Schiano so he had no ties to him and therefore no patience for an oft-injured player that’s not living up to expectations.
With that said, there must have been something about Benn that made Tampa select him in the second round of the draft.
Coming out of college, the 6′ 2″ 220 lb 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.
He also had a vertical leap of 37 inches and put up 20 reps on the bench press, which is above the average for wide receivers who have participated at the combine.
When the Eagles traded for Benn, instead of thinking “bust” or “camp body”, my first thought was actually that Jason Avant’s future with the team is now questionable. With Momah, I initially thought he would just be a camp body or practice squad candidate.
However, I’m really warming up to the idea that these guys could actually make the 53-man roster. I’m particularly interested in seeing what Momah can do, his size and athleticism are extremely intriguing and if he can translate that to the field, we could have ourselves one hell of a weapon.
Imagine the Eagles with an offensive package that consisted of Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Momah and either Benn or Cooper…that is some serious size, physicality and athleticism right there!
For both Momah and Benn to make the roster, it’ll come down to how many wide receivers Kelly wants to keep. The typical number is five. Conventional thinking is that those five will be Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Cooper and Johnson.
If one of them has to go in order to make room for Benn or Momah, Avant is likely to be the one sacrificed. If Kelly wants both guys, he could keep one over Cooper, but he’s got some size too. Johnson could be gone, but Kelly might see him as a “toy” for the offense.
Could Maclin go? That’s a question I’ve been wondering about for a little while now.
I actually thought the Eagles and Colts could be brewing a trade involving Maclin earlier this offseason. In fact, numerous people speculated that Maclin was the subject of Jim Irsay’s infamous tweet about landing a “whopper” of a receiver.
I still wonder if that could actually happen. Irsay did state that the team wanted to add a wide receiver, and did eventually by adding Darrius Heyward-Bey. However, I don’t think he was the “whopper” that Irsay had his eyes on.
The Colts did not draft a wide receiver either.
There is the logical connection of a possible deal because of Colts GM Ryan Grigson’s ties to the Eagles. However, it’s a long-shot and pure speculation.
The main reasons I think Maclin might be available for trade are that he’ll be entering the final year of his deal and the team hasn’t made an overtures about a new contract. Plus, he just doesn’t seem like a Chip-kinda-guy.
Maclin’s body language and penchant for avoiding contact…sometimes seemingly going down just to avoid a hit…have always bothered me. He also seems to come up limping quite often, like Jevon Kearse used to do after every other play.
He just doesn’t strike me as someone Chip will embrace in his hurry-up, you-better-be-physcial style of play. Maclin is a quality receiver and has his good points, but if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t be upset if he left.
Of course, I wouldn’t be upset if he stayed either, and that’s the more likely scenario.
Anyway, I like the idea of getting bigger, stronger and more physical at the wide receiver position. While Benn has the leg-up on Momah in terms of experience and pedigree, Momah has very interesting potential.
The competition at the wide receiver position should be one of the more interesting training camp story-lines, though the QB competition will get all the attention.
At this point, though, I’m excited about the potential of Momah and Benn, especially Momah. Their size would help give our offense a new identity as one that will beat you up as well as kill you with speed.