Position Analysis: Tight Ends, Wide Receivers

The Eagles have some definite needs at tight end and wide receiver. It will be interesting to see how early in the draft they break away from their likely defensive mind-set to go for a receiver. Odds are that their biggest moves at both positions will be to look for veterans.

TIGHT ENDS

Starter: L.J. Smith.
Backups: Chad Lewis, Stephen Spach.

Smith was on a 90-catch pace early in the season before Donovan McNabb got hurt. Trouble is, he's not a very good blocker, which has hurt the Eagles' perimeter running game. Lewis re-signed with the Eagles at mid-season, but probably won't be back. Spach is just a body. The Eagles need to find a solid blocking tight end to use in two-TE sets.

One free agent name that could be looked at is former Penn State Nittany Lion Tony Stewart. He hasn't done a whole lot in his NFL career, but can throw some blocks in key spots. Another name to mention is New England's Christian Fauria. Both Stewart and Fauria are free agents.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Starters: Reggie Brown, Todd Pinkston.
Backups: Greg Lewis, Billy McMullen, Darnerien McCants.

Reggie Brown had a solid rookie season, catching 43 passes with four touchdowns. Coach Andy Reid has called him the most talented receiver he's coached. But with Terrell Owens gone, the sense is the Eagles need to find a solid veteran to pair with Brown. Todd Pinkston, who missed all of last season with an Achilles' tendon injury, is a vertical threat who averaged a league-best 18.8 yards per catch two years ago, when he was playing opposite Owens. Lewis was in over his head last season when he was forced into the starting lineup. But he can be a good number three or number four receiver. He's got good hands, pretty good speed and a knack for finding the hole in a zone.

Finding a wide receiver will be a definite mission for the Eagles during the off-season. They've got a bunch of young receivers who they think can develop, so they're likely to go for a veteran receiver, who can act as a mentor and fill at least a decent chunk of Owens' numbers.

The free agent list has names like Antwaan Randle El, Reggie Wayne and Keenan McCardell. The Colts have said that Wayne won't be going anywhere and is likely untouchable. With the Steelers winning the Super Bowl, you have to figure that they'll do all they can to keep Randle El on the roster. McCardell was a great fit for the Chargers and might be an interesting choice for the Eagles to pursue.

The Eagles may also look to grab a wide receiver in the upper levels of the draft, but it's unlikely that they would be able to get an immediate impact player, especially since they are likely to go defense with their first pick.


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