Eagles Depth Chart Outlook: Cornerbacks

This is the second in a series. Throughout the next week or two, we’ll take a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ roster. Yesterday, we broke down the safety situation.

The initial overhaul during the summer of 2011 didn’t work out, so the Eagles tried again this offseason.

Gone are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha. In are Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher.

During the draft, the Eagles didn’t find corner help early, but they grabbed Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer in the seventh round.

Returning from last year’s roster are nickel corner Brandon Boykin, 2011 third-round pick Curtis Marsh and veteran Brandon Hughes. The Eagles also have Eddie Whitley, who spent the last four weeks of 2012 on the practice squad. And 2010 fourth-round pick Trevard Lindley is still around as well.

Here’s a look at all the cornerbacks on the roster (alphabetical order):

Brandon Boykin5-10185221/4
Bradley Fletcher6-0200264/26
Brandon Hughes5-11185263/1
Trevard Lindley6-0183271/1
Curtis Marsh6-1197252/0
Jordan Poyer6-0191220/0
Eddie Whitley6-0191231/0
Cary Williams6-1190285/33

Pencil ’em in: Williams, Fletcher, Boykin.

While we’re still about four months away from the opener, Williams and Fletcher seem like the favorites to start. Williams started 32 games for the Ravens the past two seasons. Fletcher only started four games in 2012, but he will have every opportunity to win the job opposite Williams.

Boykin certainly had his share of growing pains as a rookie, but overall, he held up pretty well in what turned out to be a dysfunctional secondary. He’s got the inside track on the nickel job, although it should be noted that Poyer can play inside and should provide some competition.

Fighting for spots: Marsh, Poyer, Hughes, Lindley, Whitley.

The measurables on Marsh were good coming out of Utah State: 6-1, 197, 4.46 40. But we’ve seen no signs that he’s a starting-caliber player. Marsh has played a total of 75 snaps the past two seasons (per PFF) and is squarely on the roster bubble.

Poyer has a really good shot of sticking because of his wide array of skills. Poyer has experience playing inside, outside, safety and special teams (returner and coverage). Of course, if Chip Kelly and the coaches determine that Poyer is not particularly good at any of those skills, he could be let go. But at this point, he’s got a good chance of making the team.

Hughes’ value comes on special teams. He was the first man down in coverage a team-best 37 times last year, according to stats kept by the coaches.

Lindley and Whitley are long-shots.

Bottom line? There’s a good chance only two players from this group will make the team. My guess is Poyer takes one of the spots, but the other one will be up for grabs.

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  • GEagle

    I have no clue beside Poyer, who else they will keep. Whoever they do keep, hopefully isn’t here in 2014. Poyer is too versatile to not make the team when he is competing with Marsh, Lindley, Hughes and whitely…these guys couldn’t even see the field when our starters quit. tough to have much faith in any of them. my guess for the roster is:

    bye Bye mArsh, we hardly ever knew you lol..This will be Marsh’s 3rd offseason, he is going to have to show that he has Alize’s a good portion of that high Ceiling and potential, we heard so much about, if he wants to have a shot at a future as an eagle

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    BFletch. Cary. Boykin. Poyer. and Marsh still. like to see some out of Whitley too. former safety at VT. very young athletic player. needs experience.

    • GEagle

      Think Marsh can beat out Hughes special teams contributions?…Marsh has a ton of potential. I would have to be a fool to not want him to break through, but it’s tough to have much faith in it happening at this point, when he couldn’t get on the field even when guys ahead of him, didn’t want to play

  • CJ

    Think Poyer should be in the pencil ’em in category. 7th rounder or not, with the skillset he has and the fact that there’s literally no one in the secondary that can be as much of a game changer (INTs, ST returner) as he’s shown to be outside of MAYBE Boykin, I see no way that doesn’t make this team. Barring injury, I think he’ll be in a position to be a significant contributor by midseason.

    That’s a heck of a lot to expect from a rookie 7th rounder. But this isn’t a normal rookie 7th rounder. He fell for non-football reasons and is talent level is far higher. Look at how Burfict contributed last year for a comparable.

    • cliff henny

      we’ve seen enough marsh and lindley…if it’s at all close (which i’d be surprised), still give it to a new guy. Poyer has slot, outside, ST gunner, return and also can play safety, that sounds like a kelly guy to me

      • Marsh is converting from his original position of Running Back. I think the opinion on Marsh is premature. The kid never got a chance to make plays and show how well he is making the adjustment to Corner. In the limited action he was introduced he didn’t embarrass himself and defended pretty well. Marsh not getting ample opportunity can be chalked up to the acts of desperation in Philly last year and the year before.

        I’m not saying Marsh is a solid stick at Corner, but he didn’t look like a loss case in that dysfunctional Eagles Defensive Backfield last season when given a little playing time. He’s worth the look he’ll get in pre-Season action.

        • CJ

          Conversion project or not, once you’re 25, it’s time to play. If he can’t contribute by now, it’s time to take your chances with the Practice Squad if he’s eligible. Otherwise move on There’s no room on the roster for 25 + year old projects (I’m looking at you too, Danny Watkins). They should be contributing by now and even peaking soon. If they haven’t figured it out by now, they’ll most likely be decline before they do.

          I’m fine with late round projects for a couple years while they develop and hope they hit it big, it’s worked before. That said, if you’re drafted in the first 3 rounds, it shouldn’t take you 3 years to contribute anything, those picks need to pan out sooner or save the roster spot for someone younger and cheaper that has as good or better chance of doing so. Also, regardless of draft position, if they haven’t figured it out after three years, unless they (were like 20 when they came out), it’s time to give up and find someone else to invest in.

          This is how this team got so bad to begin with. Far too many projects with little to no chance of actually helping the team. When you have so many long term projects, and you get banged up as much as this team was last season, you have no chance. They lucked out with Bryce Brown and Chris Polk, which are another 2. A few years back there was a Todd Herramans that panned out. But for every 1 of those, there’s 5 Reno Mahes, Curtis Marshes, Jaquan Jarrets, Danny Watkins, and sucky younger brothers who shall not be named, among countless others.

          It’s fine to draft projects, just 1) don’t do it so stinking high (which they aren’t anymore, kudos to Howie for learning that lesson), and 2) don’t give them 5 seasons to see if they figure it out. That keeps different guys from getting chances that deserve them (like Kyle Arrington, Raheem Brock, and Danny Amendola)

    • Richard Colton

      says a lot about the deplorable state of your secondary when you’re penciling in a 7th rounder as the dime corner before the preseason even starts. good luck to Poyer, hope he’s as good as some of you think he is.

  • cliff henny

    should be fun watching the final cuts with all the versatility Kelly’s brought in. Poyer could be classified as 5th emergency saftey. if anderson is 5th safety, how often do those guys see the field besides ST. teams go 4 wide alot more often than needing a 3rd safety on field. carry 6cb 4 safeties. who knows…kelly seems open to many ideas. sure the back end of his roster will have some wrinkles.

    • CJ

      I sure will be fun. Projecting the 53 just by position, here’s what I’d expect:
      3 QB – While this is more conventional, I wouldn’t be shocked if they go to 2 and they try to move Vick or Foles.
      3 RB
      9 WR/TE
      10 OL
      16 DL/LB figuring out where to put Cole/Graham etc is a mess right now so I lumped them all together
      9 DB (maybe a little light here, I guess if this plays out you’re looking at Marsh, Hughes, Lindley, Allen, Anderson and Coleman all vying for 1-2 spots)
      3 Specialists

      • cliff henny

        probably best to combo wr/te, dl/lb and dbs, with all the vers guy brought in, wont be surprised if the ratio is adjusted game to game.

      • Richard Colton

        You’re cutting Clay Harbor and Damaris Johnson and/or Reilly Cooper, I take it?

        • CJ

          Harbor? I don’t see how you can’t. Johnson OR Cooper? Probably. I don’t see where there’s room to keep both, but I’d lean toward keeping Johnson

          I wanted to do 10 receivers,b/c I think all 3 of who you named could improve in Kelly’s system over Reid’s. I just don’t see it unless they go light at QB or the front 7. But if they’re doing a hybrid scheme, based on who they have it’d be tough to pull it off with less than 16 guys.

          • cliff henny

            i’m with you CJ, seen enough of Harbor. Momah is the interesting guy here, he could play 4th TE/6th WR. kind of same idea as Poyer 5th cb/5th safety, it’s like adding 2 extra roster spots and neither move would hurt ST. johnson vs shephard for the hybrid slot/RB roll. someone has to take the d’anthony thomas snaps, sure isnt DJ or Mac. can than keep both Benn and Cooper as big blocking WRs along with Momah. Avant would be odd man out.
            who knows, but all these versitile guys were brought in, might as well use them on back end of roster

          • CJ

            I think you have it pegged (at least as much as possible at this point in the year). You found a way to keep Momah, Cooper and Johnson, which makes more sense seeing that than when I was trying to figure it out. Wonder if they’ll actually move on from Avant though. Hoping they do (for the similar reasons as above with Marsh though Avant’s clearly further along, still not good enough to keep at the expense of a more ascending player IMO)

            Those combo guys worry me to some degree (the whole jack-of-all-trades, master of none bit), but if nothing else it means better STs. That itself, as bad as its been lately, could turn a game or 2 around this year, so it can’t be underestimated.

          • cliff henny

            also remember, Ertz will be WR good % of time too. figure the avant routes/plays will now be his. have no issue with avant over cooper, but when dj went down, cooper got nod over avant. really impossible to know, mean momah hasnt put on pads in 2 yrs, and i have him making nfl roster, little far fetched, but that kid is a nightmare matchup, even if he can only block on wr screnes

          • CJ

            Totally agree, I want a weapon in the slot. With Avant you have a very defined floor, which is nice, but it comes with a very defined ceiling. I’d much rather a higher ceiling in the slot, even if it comes with a lower floor.

            IDC if it’s Benn, Ertz, D Johnson, Shep or whoever. Give me someone who can create mismatches and be a difference maker. Avant is neither. Reliable? Yes. Game changer? Sorry. I’m assuming they’ll keep Avant b/c its something the Eagles would’ve done in the past (keep the guys that are consistent, good at what they do even if it isn’t much, high character, but aren’t going to markedly improve at this point in their career at the expense of younger, cheaper guys that can probably do the job just as good or better if given the opportunity). But I’m hoping that line of thinking changes.

          • cliff henny

            i wont be rooting against Avant, guy’s been a great eagle. but any ball he catches is really one that should be going to ertz. now if avant could line up wide as a rec’r threat along with blocking ability, that’s different, but he’s not outside numbers guy anymore, would be tipping of hand. figuring the slot guy will also need to be hybrid rb, why think you’ll see shephard vs johnson battle there.
            one guy i really liked out of last year’s draft that did nothing was Mcnutt out of Iowa. this offense might be much more to his liking. he was a slant/yac machine.

          • Outside receiver vs slot receiver in Reid’s offense were two wildly different animals; it wasn’t a matter of talent, but of route trees, knowledge and experience that saw Cooper outside while keeping Avant in the slot.

          • GEagle

            I think they have no choice but to keep Damaris…our receiving corp looked like a bunch of smurfs these past years…now they look like the land of the Giants…I think Damaris is very fortunate, because I don’t see how they could not keep him. he is practically, the only small BURNER that can back up Desean..if they don’t keep Damaris, they basically have to keep the Genius Sheppard, and do you really won’t that Braniac backing up Desean as a rookie?…Damaris is really fortunate

          • GEagle

            Why doesn’t anyone ever mention Carrier?

          • CJ

            I like him, but it’s a #s game. If you told me he had a better shot to stick than Harbor, I wouldn’t argue.

            But can this team carry 10 receivers? 5 TEs (if you count Dorenbos)?

            I think a hybrid D might burn 1-2 extra roster spots more than we’d need otherwise, so it hurts what they can do on O. Can we go 9 OL with a fast-paced approach? Less than 3 RBs? I’m not sure where you can go light other than QB, front 7, or find a guy to LS that also contributes elsewhere. I just don’t know where you take that extra roster spot from. And that’s already assuming they go 1 light at RB and 1 heavier at TE from last year.

          • cliff henny

            reid carried 9 ol, 10 dl, 6 lbs, 9 dbs, 6 wrs, 3 tes 1 fb. last game roster, shows 2 qbs and 4 hb, bet it was usually 3/3. 3 ST.

          • CJ

            that’s basically what I have, Reid just an extra receiver over an OL, and you swap the FB for another TE. Keep in mind Peters was off the roster all last season and on IR, and we may need another body at the position if we’re going fast paced.

          • Richard Colton

            Tough choice, isn’t it? thats why I can see them keeping more at that position. Harbor was a big disappointment so far, but if CK wants to run two and three TE sets, shouldn’t they keep three or four? Can’t see Benn and Cooper both making the team.

          • CJ

            The 3 TEs would be Celek, Casey and Ertz. Benn could line up as TE in some sets (did in TB as well), as could Lane Johnson in jumbo sets. Momah or Cooper could as well if either/both make the team. Even carrying three, they still have options. Ergo, bye bye Harbor. There’s just no room.

  • James Skip Carl

    I think they should look at Marsh as a safety. He is to stiff to be a corner

  • Ebrano

    Poyer… Almost everyone is assuming he’s good. In reality it is a coin flip. Sink or swim. Psyched we got him in the seventh round tho.