Eagles Preseason Game One: Key cornerback battle to watch as the Birds take on the Jets
Nick Sirianni and company released the team’s first official depth chart before their matchup with the Jets to kick off the Eagles preseason campaign.
With many young and talented offseason additions acquired through the draft or post-draft free agency, the front office will have to make several difficult decisions regarding the secondary. Is keeping tenured players who know the league and system the right move? Or is risking a roster spot on a fresh start with an inexperienced undrafted free agent the better call?
With coaches getting a better feel for guys’ potential and development throughout training camp, these three “meaningless” games against real competition could make or break someone’s NFL career.
Mario Goodrich vs. Josh Jobe
The Eagles starting cornerback trio is set in stone, with Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Avonte Maddox most likely cheering their teammates on from the sidelines. That means Kary Vincent Jr and Josiah Scott will play beside last year’s fourth-round pick, Zech McPhearson, to start the game.
Last season, the Eagles’ front office acquired Vincent Jr from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a sixth-round pick. However, a recent groin injury may prevent the LSU product from suiting up in this one.
That leaves room for two undrafted free agents to show their stuff in meaningful game scenarios. I have written extensively about Clemson’s Mario Goodrich and the fact that a poor combine performance should not have tarnished his draft stock.
Well, it did, and the Eagles snatched him after the draft and gave him $200K guaranteed in the contract. Not a typical undrafted free agent signing because most of these players might not even make the practice squad.
Another one of the Eagles’ multiple secondary signings after the 2022 draft was Josh Jobe out of Alabama. Jobe has been the player in the large pool of undrafted cornerbacks that has made the most plays on the ball and looks to be the most fluid in the first couple of days of training camp.
Jobe enjoyed a stellar 2020 campaign playing beside Patrick Surtain II. With the second most coverage on the team (406), the Miami native only allowed two more catches than Surtain on the same number of targets while racking up six pass breakups.
After taking over the number one cornerback spot last season, Jobe struggled to keep up with more physical receivers and got burnt on more than one occasion while out of position in coverage. Eventually, the three-year starter for the Crimson Tide explained that he dealt with a foot injury for the entire 2021 season, eventually causing him to miss the College Football Playoff.
Now both of these “second-fiddle” college cornerbacks are looking to make a name for themselves, and Friday night against the Jets presents the perfect opportunity for both to show they belong on that 53-man roster, or at least the practice squad.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Eagles