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Solving The Secondary: What Can The Eagles Do?

The Philadelphia Eagles had an incredibly successful NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, they were unable to fortify the depth chart in the secondary. As a result, the Eagles invested heavily in the back end of their defense with a plethora of UDFA signings. The unofficial eighth round of the NFL Draft has yielded four secondary pieces for the Eagles thus far.

In this article, we will explore an overall plan for Philadelphia moving forward with their secondary depth chart. Let’s figure out how the Eagles can get to work solving the secondary:

Acquiring A CB2 Across From Darius Slay.

The departure of Steven Nelson is not a shock.

As documented frequently on the Fly Eagles Nation website, the former Steelers cornerback struggled mightily in his debut season with the Eagles. He allowed a woeful 108.4 passer rating on 72 targets, making him a significant weak link in the Eagles’ zone scheme. Philadelphia did not seem interested in retaining his services.

Thus, fans expected Philly to address this positional need in the draft. In fact, with Trent McDuffie, Kaiir Elam and Andrew Booth Jr. all available as the Eagles approached their 18th overall selection, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion. We all know what happened next.

The A.J. Brown trade was an absolute home run. There should be no disappointment from the fan base or the team at all. However, the looming need for reinforcements in the secondary glared throughout the draft. The Eagles were in a position on Day Two to potentially take a corner. They instead chose to shore up the offensive line. They did get a sensational value pick, drafting Kelce’s eventual replacement in Cam Jurgens.

As a result, Philadelphia’s CB2 roster spot is up for grabs. The Eagles signed Alabama’s Josh Jobe, Clemson’s Mario Goodrich and Duke’s Josh Blackwell. Each of these UDFA prospects will compete with Zech McPherson as Avonte Maddox mans the slot.

The Eagles hope that taking multiple swings will pay off as they get to work solving the secondary.

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The defensive backfield remains one of the few weaknesses on the Eagles’ roster. How can they best get to work solving the secondary?

Getting A Second Safety

Corner is not the only position that looks thin.

The departure of Rodney McLeod, in conjunction with the age of remaining incumbent starter Anthony Harris, are cause for concern. The safety depth chart is extremely thin, leading to some Eagles fans being despondent that Philadelphia passed on Kyle Hamilton from Notre Dame, an elite safety prospect who went one pick after Jordan Davis.

Additionally, the Eagles were interested in acquiring the services of superstar defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. The versatile “Honey Badger” signed with the New Orleans Saints, eliminating the most premium free agent at the position from the market.

There are still some in-house options at safety for the Eagles. They acquired Reed Blankenship as a UDFA from Middle Tennessee State. Also, they still have K’Von Wallace on the roster, a former fourth-round selection. He showed real promise as a productive safety in college. In his final season at Clemson, Wallace had 70 tackles, ten pass break-ups, two interceptions and two sacks.

Alternatively, the Eagles can look towards free agency. Jacquiski Tart from the San Fransisco 49ers is a viable option. He had 66 tackles, five of which were for loss in 2021. The 2015 second-round selection only allowed a completion percentage of 57.6% when targeted.

Landon Collins from the division rival Commanders should also be investigated as a potential fit. Also a second-round pick in the same draft as Tart, the Washington safety had three sacks and two interceptions last season, as well seven tackles for loss. He did however relinquish an astounding eight touchdowns and 508 yards in the passing game. The three-time Pro Bowler had a down year but is potentially worth an inexpensive contract as some safety depth.

Incumbent starter Marcus Epps is simply not reliable enough in coverage to be a certain starter at this point. He gave up two touchdowns and a 117.3 passer rating in 2021. That being said, he earned a 87.6 PFF rushing grade, which was outstanding. If the Eagles choose not to invest further in the position, look for him to float down as a box safety on rushing downs.

The 2023 NFL Draft

If none of the options for this season are completely viable, the Eagles do have the draft capital to invest in the secondary in 2023.

Depending on Jalen Hurts’ development, Philadelphia should have the ability to address the secondary in the next NFL Draft. They have two selections in the first round once again and could double down on the back end of their defense. These premium picks would likely allow for the chance to immediately improve the secondary.

Currently, although far too early to predict, PFF have six defensive backs in their first-round big board. The Eagles can take advantage of a much stronger quarterback class to be in a position to take standout secondary selections later in the draft. Furthermore, they must think of replacing Slay long term, as he approaches the twilight of his career. They can perhaps find further depth in the later rounds if none of their roster incumbents flourish into a primary contributing role.

Solving The Secondary

What do you think the Eagles should do? What is your target for the secondary?

Let us know in the comments below.

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