In terms of the Eagles' 2019 draft, running back Miles Sanders
is at the head of the class to date
, and it’s not even close.
According to SI.com's Ed Kracz, what Sanders has brought to the offense is a deep-play threat, something the Eagles clearly lack with the absence of DeSean Jackson
, who has been ruled out again this week due to his ongoing abdominal issues.
Sanders is averaging 16.8 yards per catch on 13 receptions. His 219 yards receiving is more than all of the team’s actual receivers, except for Nelson Agholor
Agholor has 230 yards receiving on 23 catches (10.0 yards per catch). Sanders is right behind him, but just ahead of the 215 yards Alshon Jeffery
has on 24 catches (9.0 yards per catch).
Jackson is averaging 19.3 yards per catch but all that damage was done in the season opener. Since then, he has been out of the lineup except for a handful of plays against the Falcons in Week 2.
Sanders has recorded a 30-plus-yard play from scrimmage in each of the last four games, including his first career touchdown on a 32-yard strike to him from quarterback Carson Wentz
against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and now has six plays of 30-plus yards – five receiving and one rushing.
“I don't think we're surprised by his development as a receiver,” said offensive coordinator Mike Groh on Tuesday. “We did our due diligence on him coming out of Penn State and we felt like he was going to be a really good pass catcher out of the backfield.
“I would say that any time you have six plays over 30 yards in the last four games or so, you're going to get the attention of your opponents. So he's made an impact on our offense in that area, and I'm sure that people take notice.”
Sanders’ ground yards aren’t quite there, yet but he has his yards per carry average up to 3.5 with 57 rushes for 199 yards. He ranks third among NFL running backs in scrimmage yards per touch (5.97) behind Dalvin Cook
(6.08) and Matt Breida
Additionally, Sanders has 222 kickoff yards for a total of 640 all-purpose yards this season. That puts him on pace to challenge for 2,000 all-purpose yards this
As for JJ Arcega-Whiteside
, who, like Sanders was picked in the second round, his development has been slow. The Eagles have begun cross-training him at all three receiver positions after a summer spent learning the “X” receiver role, which is the one occupied by Jeffery.
“I want to help you guys understand this,” said Groh. “When Alshon is out and misses time, he's the next guy in the game at that position. So in practice, he ends up having to practice primarily there. When Alshon is here, that gives him the flexibility to be able to bounce around a little bit more as opposed to just everything being in the classroom.
"So learning a new position and getting no reps at it is tough as a rookie player.”
Meanwhile, as ESPN's Mike Clay reminded readers, Jeffery had his best game of the season last Sunday, posting a 10-76-1 receiving line on 12 targets against Minnesota.
Jeffery has scored in three of his four games this season and has been targeted seven-plus times in all four affairs.
Clay added: "Perpetually underrated Jeffery was fantasy's No. 21 scoring receiver in 2017 (his first season with the Eagles), was 17th after returning from injury in Week 4 last season and has posted weekly finishes of 19th, 25th, 32nd and sixth so far this season. He's a fringe WR2 every week."