Eagles’ Corner Jobs Are Up for Grabs
When the Philadelphia Eagles elected to let Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie walk this off-season, it meant the Eagles were going to have two new starting cornerbacks. The Eagles selected cornerback Jordan Poyer in the seventh round in the 2013 NFL Draft, and signed two new free agent corners, meaning someone who was not on the team last season will get the starting nod on the outside this season.
Second-year player Brandon Boykin stared four games last season and should again be penciled in as the inside slot corner. So who might be the outside corners, guys that will play an important role on the defense in 2013?
That competition would seem to involve the freshly signed Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, third-year corners Curtis Marsh and Travard Lindley and the 27-year old, five-year player, Brandon Hughes.
Williams inked a three-year contract to play with the Eagles this off-season, with a big reason for that being his play with the world champion Ravens. He was a starter on the Super Bowl champion Ravens team and posted four interceptions along with 17 pass deflections but he struggled mightily at times.
The former Raven starter has opened the window a tiny bit for his counterparts at cornerback due to missing OTA's for a variety of reasons, including attending his daughters dance recital, his honeymoon and the dentist.
"He did miss a good amount of insertion in phase 2 and that first week of OTAs," said Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. "But he's a sharp kid. Really gets football really, really quickly."
Besides Williams, both Fletcher and Boykin got a legitimate amount of playing time in 2012. Fletcher started on the outside in four games, whereas Boykin got the majority of his plays on the inside covering the slot receivers.
Both Williams and Fletcher found themselves in the doghouse for their play at times in 2012. In Fletcher' case, the Rams got fed up with his persistent penalties in 2012 only to be benched for poor play. Though he fell out of favor in St. Louis last year, Fletcher flourished with four interceptions, 75 tackles, and 11 pass breakups as a 14-game starter in 2010 before an ACL tear ended his season.
For Williams, during the regular season, opponents threw for 1,000 yards, six touchdowns, and a 91.6 quarterback rating while targeting Williams.
The true sleeper in all of this is Marsh, a former third-round pic originally drafted by the Eagles No. 88 overall, Marsh was expected to face an elongated transition period after playing only two years of cornerback at small-school Utah State, but the Eagles viewed him as a potential starter down the road - this could finally be his year.
Once regarded as a possible starter, the 6-foot, 197-pound cornerback has fallen on hard times in his first three years in the NFL. With a new coaching staff and a starting spot up for grabs, now could be the time for him to strike.
While the starting jobs have yet to have a defined, what has been learned is there is likely to be a very interesting battle at the cornerback position during training camp.
The Eagles have their mandatory mini-camp on June 4, 5 and 6, and then break until training camp begins in late July.