Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor should thrive in Eagles' offense

PHILADELPHIA -- Howie Roseman said the NFL owners meetings mark the shift from focusing on free agency to preparing for the draft. That makes this an appropriate time to assess the Philadelphia Eagles' roster by position. Where is the team after a busy free-agency period? What holes remain going into the draft?

We looked at the offensive line on Tuesday. Today? The pass-catchers, wide receivers and tight ends.

Key moves: The Eagles began their work by releasing wide receiver Riley Cooper and agreeing to new contracts with tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. Once free agency began, the Eagles signed speedy wide receiver Chris Givens to a one-year contract.

Projected starters: At the moment, the starting wide receivers could be Givens and 2015 first-round draft pick Nelson Agholor. Jordan Matthews, the team's leading receiver last year, could start on the outside or in the slot if the Eagles open in three-wide receiver sets.

At tight end, it's safe to assume Ertz will be the starter with Celek starting in two-tight end alignments. Ertz started seven games in 2015 but was held back by Chip Kelly's emphasis on blocking, which gave Celek an advantage. Doug Pederson is more likely to use his tight ends as receivers.

Unanswered questions: Can Matthews be effective on the outside, or will it take three-wide receiver formations to get him on the field?

Can Agholor shrug off a disappointing rookie season in Kelly's offense and blossom as the No. 1 wide receiver in Pederson's West Coast-based system?

How good can Ertz be if freed from his obligations as a blocker and made a focal point of the passing game?

Can Givens and Agholor stretch the field to open up the intermediate passing game for Matthews, Ertz and Celek?

Where does Josh Huff fit into all this?

Pederson's impact: Earlier this month, Pederson was asked about the Eagles' wide receivers. This was before the signing of Givens, so the question was about the young trio of Agholor, Matthews and Huff. Pederson's answer was telling.

“Obviously, we're happy where we are currently today,” Pederson said. “The draft is coming up, which is a big evaluation process. We have three tremendous tight ends on the roster, four that are going to compete for those roster spots there. With the three young receivers that we have, we feel like we can be a dynamic offense in the National Football League.”

It's not a coincidence that Pederson answered a question about wide receivers by talking about tight ends. In Andy Reid's offense, the goal was to pass protect with the five offensive linemen and get everyone else out in pass patterns. If Ertz lines up in the slot, he will be essentially a wide receiver. It's a shift in how the coach views his players.

Kelly liked big, physical wide receivers who could block in the run game. DeSean Jackson was released after one season. In Reid's offense, which is similar to Pederson's, Jackson thrived. His ability to make big plays was more important than his weakness as a lead blocker.

In the pipeline: Jonathan Krause played in two games last season and caught two passes for a total of 11 yards. That makes him the most accomplished of the Eagles' depth players at wide receiver. Freddie Martino was on the practice squad in 2015, and so was tight end Chris Pantale.

The Eagles signed Seantavius Jones and Xavier Rush in recent weeks. Rush is 6-foot-3, which would have made him a favorite of Chip Kelly's.

Draft outlook: In recent years, the Eagles have used major draft assets at wide receiver and tight end: a first-round pick last year (Agholor), second-round picks in 2014 (Matthews) and 2013 (Ertz), and a third-round pick in 2014 (Huff).

This year's draft is not considered deep at wide receiver, unlike the past two years'. With their recent picks and the signing of Givens, the Eagles can approach the draft with no pressing need for pass-catchers. If one they really like is available, they can take him. If not, they can go with what they have.