This story is a few days old, but I’m highlighting it because I know folks have been wondering what my season picks are going to look like for the 2006 NFL season. In the spring, I believed the Eagles were going to be a terrible offensive team. I don’t anymore. I believe the Eagles will be competitive in the NFC East. I believe the Eagles will surprise some teams who may continue to underestimate them because of roster changes.
With that said…here’s what I know about Donte Stallworth: 1) he doesn’t spell his name like brothers named Daunte; 2) he caught 70 balls for the New Orleans Saints last year 3) he’s never been a #1 receiver. Joe Horn carried the water in New Orleans for the receiving corps. Stallworth was initially branded an underachiever because he frequently dropped passes he should have caught and because he failed to dominate his competition. Stallworth attended the University of Tennessee. UT has a mixed tradition of excellent and underachieving wide receivers. On the plus side are pass catchers like Carl Pickens, Anthony Miller and Willie Gault. On the minus are players like Peerless Price and Joey Kent. It’s a mixed bag with UT receivers. Still, it’s arguable that only Ohio State and Michigan have placed more big name receivers in the NFL over the past 15 years.
Stallworth will have a tremendous opportunity to play with a strong armed QB in Philly. Donte will not outrun balls in Philly as he was likely to do with a rehabbing Drew Brees in New Orleans. Stallworth comes to a team without an established #1 or #2 receiver. The Eagles, prior to this signing, had a roster full of #3 receivers (or worse) in Todd Pinkston, Reggie Brown and Greg Lewis. None of these players are elite players. In fact, the book is only open on Reggie Brown. It’s closed on Pinkston and Lewis. Stallworth introduces another element.
Used in tandem with LJ Smith (TE) and Bryant Westbrook, Stallworth offers the Eagles a unique opportunity to spread the field and attack all three levels of the defense. He also allows the Eagles to deploy Smith and/or Westbrook deep to trick defenses while running shorter patterns underneath. If he can manage to hang onto the ball he can reap some serious dividends for his new team. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see the chemistry develop between McNabb and Stallworth.