The Eagles wanted to get faster and they wanted to get younger during the offseason. What better way to do that than acquiring talent through the draft. The Eagles had a need at the wide receiver position and they addressed that need thoroughly during the draft.
In the first round, they pick Jalen Reagor. Reagor is a burner and was a player they really wanted. In the sixth round, they picked Quez Watkins who is another fast wide receiver. They also picked up John Hightower in the fifth round.
Along with playing football at Boise State, he played track during his two years at the school. One of Hightower’s coaches during his time at the University Kent Riddle talked about what stood out about Hightower when they were recruiting him.
“His speed,” Riddle said. “He was a track guy all the way through junior college. His big-play ability also stood out.”
That is big for the Philadelphia Eagles. He runs a 4.43 which is blazing speed. Hightower in his second year at Boise State averaged 18.5 yards per reception. His ability to stretch the field will give the Eagles stagnant offense some juice.
DeSean Jackson had the longest play at the wide receiver position for the team. He got injured though and there was a lack of down the field threats for the Eagles at the wide receiver position for the rest of the season.
“The Eagles are getting an explosive player,” said Riddle. “He can go get the ball. He has great speed and can run after the catch. He will make big plays. He’s a smart football player that can play multiple positions. A great person and a team player.”
Philadelphia was at the bottom of the league in 40 yard plus passing plays. With Hightower on the team, he will help the Eagles get those big plays through the passing game. The Eagles are a passing team that relies on the big play.
Hightower is a bigger receiver at 6’2 along with his speed. He can go up and get balls that a smaller receiver wouldn’t be able to get. A deep ball that hangs in the air will be able to be caught by him. He will use his body and go up and get the ball at its highest point. He has a vertical leap of 38.5 inches.
“He seems like he fit a need at receiver and they seem to have a tough hard-working team similar to what he was part of here at Boise State,” said Riddle.
After the season that the Eagles had, they need players that fit their mentality. Boise State was a hard-working program just like the Eagles have. The Eagles need more speed and youth and Hightower fits that mold. He is also versatile which the Eagles love in players. At Boise State, they made sure they tried to incorporate Hightower into what they were doing a lot.
“We were always trying to find different ways to get the ball in his hands and let him make plays for us,” said Riddle.
Hightower was even used in the running game. It is feasible that the Eagles will use Hightower on those bubble screens that they love to run. As a fifth-round pick, it will be hard for him to get playing time but that’s where his versatility comes into play.
He will be a player that they will want to utilize in the return game. The Eagles had Darren Sproles for so many years but now they need a new explosive return man. Hightower can be that man.
“He will compete for the Kickoff Return job,” said Riddle. He can accelerate through tight windows and break tackles. He makes good decisions too. He also can return punts as well as cover kicks and block for the returners.”
The Eagles knew they needed to revamp the receiver position and they did just that during the offseason. Hightower as a lower round pick can make this team because of his ability to do so much.