Early look: first-team secondary revealed in Eagles OTAs
The Eagles concluded their modified OTA practice schedule today in Philadelphia. An impressive catch by #10 overall pick DeVonta Smith highlighted the day as new head coach Nick Sirianni ran unique drills with his team.
A great deal of focus moving forward will be on the cornerbacks as the Eagles haven’t brought in much help at the position to this point. Coming out of OTAs, the Eagles rolled out a glimpse of what they’re thinking for their first-team secondary unit:
For the very little it’s worth, first-team secondary for the Eagles today is McLeod & Harris at safety, Slay, Maddox inside and Michael “straight” Jacquet on the other side.— Bo Wulf (@Bo_Wulf) June 4, 2021
The back-end of the secondary was a given. McLeod is returning from a season-ending ACL tear suffered last December, and Anthony Harris was signed in the offseason as an upgrade to the departing Jalen Mills. The only other guaranteed spot in the secondary was Darius Slay — who, despite what many believe, is coming off a strong first season with the Eagles.
The spot across from Slay is where things start to get dicey. Avonte Maddox is the only other corner on the team with experience at the position but struggled in his first true year on the outside in 2020:
- 67.3% comp. allowed
- 108.3 passer rating when targeted
- Graded dead last out of 121 corners (per PFF)
The Eagles have some options at the nickel position after letting Nickell Robey-Coleman walk following a disappointing year. The team drafted Zech McPhearson out of Texas Tech in the 4th round of April’s draft and traded for 5’9″ Josiah Scott a few weeks ago. It looks as though Michael Jacquet will be the first guy to get a crack on the outside.
The undrafted rookie had an eventful debut in his first real action last season but got picked on in coverage. Jacquet allowed a combined 17 completions for 362 yards for a near-perfect passer rating in the Arizona and Dallas games.
Free-agent cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Bashaud Breeland were signed to new teams this week, so the Eagles will need to assess their players quickly if they decide to add someone ahead of training camp. Steven Nelson & Richard Sherman remain available on the open market.
New Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon also stated that he’s comfortable with the current CB group, so we’ll have to see if they make a move or leave it up to Gannon to develop his young secondary.
Anthony Harris is very good in coverage.— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) March 19, 2021
He led the league in INTs and was PFF’s highest graded safety in 2019. pic.twitter.com/3Cbl8UGFnO
Mandatory Credit: Tim Tai | Philadephia Inquirer