For over a decade one position on defense has plagued the Philadelphia Eagles. Cornerback. Since the days of Asante Samuel, the organization has struggled to find consistent starting level production at the position. Constant things such as technique issues and a general lack of ability or talent has affected the secondary. Coaching and drafting philosophy has changed multiple times, yet the same problems still remain. The organization has drafted guys like, Eric Rowe, Rasul Douglas, Brandon Boykin, Sidney Jones, Jaylen Watkins, Jordan Poyer, Jalen Mills and the list goes on. Bottom line, the organization has been unable to get consistent and stable play out of guys they drafted. They’ve tried the free agency route and signed big money guys such as the infamous Nnamdi Asomouga (2011) and Byron Maxwell (2015), both were huge disasters, and the lesser bargain market free agents such as Leodis Mckelvin and Patrick Robinson, who was the best cornerback they signed in free agency in a long time. They have even tried trading for corners, acquiring Ronald Darby in 2017 and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in 2011.
However, this offseason General Manager Howie Roseman has every opportunity and the resources available to get this cornerback room right. With former defensive backs coach and now Detroit Lions defensive coordinator, Cory Undlin out and Marquand Manuel now in as the coaching and technique will improve drastically. Manuel brings a nice resume that includes being a defensive assistant on Seattle’s great LOB secondary and developing Atlanta Falcons’ cornerback Desmond Trufant into a pro-bowl level player. Manuel also played under Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz when he was the team’s head coach in 2009.
The current cornerback room includes
- Jalen Mills (Free Agent)
- Ronald Darby (Free Agent)
- Sidney Jones
- Avonte Maddox
- Cre’von Leblanc
- Rasul Douglas
- Craig James
- Trevor Williams (recent FA signing)
As currently stands there is no clear-cut number one corner on the roster. There are options in the draft and free agency that could fill this role. The first being former Dallas Cowboys first round pick Byron Jones, who the Eagles have already been linked to in multiple reports. Jones doesn’t have the numbers, but he is regarded as one of the top coverage corners in the league, forcing an incompletion rate of 15.1% in 2019. Jones’ market will be high but Howie Roseman has shown he isn’t afraid to spend big for players he wants. The next corner is Denver Broncos free agent, Chris Harris Jr. Harris Jr, 32, has primarily been a slot corner who has gotten some looks on the outside including last season in which he was up and down at best. Harris Jr. rejected the Broncos 3 year $36 million deal earlier in the year, so that may take him out of the Eagles plans, with all things considered (age, production/value, contract length and money). Other options in free agency include James Bradberry, who’s said he is a number one corner in the league and has been tested week in and week out in his division, seeing and following wide recievers Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas. Bradley Roby is also an option. Roby, a former outside corner for the Houston Texans is a fringe number one corner/safe number two in the event that the Eagles draft a corner early. Options in the draft include, LSU’s Kristian Fulton who is an athletic, primarily man coverage corner, Alabama’s Trevon Diggs (my personal favorite for the birds) who is an very physical zone corner, the senior bowl standout Troy Pride Jr out of Notre Dame. Pride Jr. is a quick and sticky corner in man coverage, and lastly Florida’s CJ Henderson, who is an explosive and athletic man coverage corner with very good ball skills. My plan would be to sign Bradberry or Roby and draft Diggs or Henderson in the first if none of the premier wide recievers of the draft are avaliable.
In all, this offseason Howie Roseman has a bevy of options avaliable to fix the position that has limited the defense for years.
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