Wake-Up Call: A Look At the Safety Position

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders
The safety picture may not be complete, but it is starting to come into focus.

The Eagles signed Nate Allen to a modest one-year deal Monday, bringing the number of safeties on the roster to five. Allen, who is entering his fifth NFL season (kind of hard to believe, isn’t it?), joins Malcolm Jenkins, Earl Wolff, Keelan Johnson and Chris Maragos.

That looks pretty different from the 2013 group, which included Allen, Wolff, Patrick Chung, Colt Anderson and Kurt Coleman.

It appears that the Eagles have upgraded the position, if only because Chung is out and Jenkins is in. Jenkins is not without his flaws but is expected to be the best of this bunch. His versatility should allow Billy Davis further creative freedom.

Allen was steady last season. He started all 16 games for the Eagles and showed improvement, particularly as a tackler. Wolff had his share of growing pains, but in theory should get better now that he has a year in the pros under his belt.

What the Eagles continue to lack is a noted playmaker at safety. Allen and Wolff had an interception each in 2013. It’s yet to be determined whether Wolff will turn into a turnover-generator, but Allen — with just three picks over his last three seasons — has not distinguished himself as a ball hawk. Same could be said for Jenkins, who also has just three interceptions over his last three campaigns (though he did have 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles last year).

Seems like the safety crop has a chance to be average-to-good but it’s unlikely to be one of the team’s strengths, assuming there are no significant upgrades between now and the start of the season. And that is OK by the general manager.

“Sometimes the option is just to get through the moment and to do some stop-gap things. And I’m not necessarily saying that’s what we have to do at a particular position, but if you look at the teams that have won the championships over the last couple of years, they’re not perfect at 22 spots,” Howie Roseman said at the combine. “And I think there’s a big difference having a weakness at a particular position as opposed to being solid and getting through. That’s going to be the important thing.”

The draft is still in front of us, and it’s possible that the Eagles add an impact safety in the early rounds. If it doesn’t pan out, “solid” will be the reasonable expectation for the safety spot in 2014.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Allen returns to the fold.

With rumors swirling about his future, DeSean Jackson is uncertain about his standing with the team.

Sheil takes a look at how the Eagles’ free agency moves may impact their draft approach.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

The head coach was out taking a look at couple big-name prospects yesterday. From Jimmy Kempski.

Chip Kelly was one of six coaches to attend Louisville’s pro day on Monday, where star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and highly regarded safety Calvin Pryor worked out for scouts. According to Dan Parr of NFL.com, Kelly joined Bill O’Brien (Texans), Gus Bradley (Jaguars), Dennis Allen (Raiders), Mike Zimmer (Vikings) and Ken Whisenhunt (Titans)…
While Bridgewater was the headliner of the event, Kelly was likely more interested in taking a peek at safety Calvin Pryor, who is a consensus top 2 safety in the upcoming draft along with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama.
Rob Rang on CBS Sports has the Eagles selecting Alabama linebacker  C.J. Mosley with the 22nd pick.
The Eagles took a significant step in improving upon their 30th-ranked pass defense by landing former New Orleans Saints’ safety Malcolm Jenkins but reinforcements are needed. Every team in the league is looking defenders with Mosley’s degree of toughness, versatility and leadership.

COMING UP

Free agency rolls on. We’ll keep an eye on it for you.