Jeremy Maclin has been an above average receiver in Philadelphia. Maclin averaged 65 receptions, 863 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns per season in his first four years in the NFL from 2009 to 2012. However, he hasn't been able to take the next step to become a top-tier receiver. He suffered an ACL injury in training camp in 2013 that caused him to miss the entire season.
Now Philadelphia is in need of a star wide receiver, but Eagles fans are not sure if Maclin can carry the receiving corps. He has only played 16 games in a season once, and his recent injury brings a pessimistic outlook on his future. Here's why Maclin will prove his doubters wrong and become a star wide receiver in 2014:
Chemistry with Nick Foles
Maclin didn't get a chance to play with Nick Foles in 2013 due to injury, but he did play 7 games with Foles in 2012. They clearly established a connection in that short span. Maclin caught 3 of Foles' 6 TD passes in 2012, including an exciting game-winner against Tampa Bay. Maclin caught 37 balls from Foles in just 7 games, which is a rate of 85 receptions over 16 games. Now that Maclin is the #1 receiver, Foles will rely on him even more. If Maclin can stay healthy, he can record close to 100 receptions.
The Chip Kelly Effect
Maclin hasn't played a game under Chip Kelly, but Kelly's effect on wide receivers is obvious. DeSean Jackson posted career-highs in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in 2013. Riley Cooper emerged as an effective receiver for Foles last year. Cooper became a major factor in Philadelphia's offense after only starting 10 games from 2010 to 2012. Maclin will see the same natural progression from Chip Kelly's offensive scheme.
Philadelphia decided to bring Maclin back after he missed the entire 2013 season. Maclin signed a one-year, $six million contract in February. Philadelphia offered Maclin a five-year contract, but he turned it down in hopes of a bigger long-term contract after the 2014 season. Maclin now has all the incentive in the world to perform in 2014. If he can't stay healthy, the Eagles can cut ties with Maclin and develop other receivers. If he stays healthy and performs well, Maclin gets the big payday he will deserve.
Maclin is "The Guy"
This is the first season where Maclin is the #1 receiver in training camp. He has always played in the shadow of Jackson's spotlight, but now he is Philadelphia's main receiver. Cooper has developed into a solid receiver, but he isn't capable of leading the offense. Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff have potential, but it will take a few years for them to reach it. LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles will catch a lot of balls out of the backfield, but they can't be the focal point of the Eagles' air attack. Jeremy Maclin is the main weapon in Foles' arsenal. Maclin needs to embrace the role for Philadelphia to succeed in the NFC East. Maclin will develop into a star wide receiver and lead the Eagles' offense into the playoffs.