When it comes to safety, there’s a decent chance the players you see now on the Eagles’ roster are the same ones that are going to show up when the team opens its season in September against the Jaguars.
According to general manager Howie Roseman, the draft is unlikely to provide much of a boost.
“In terms of the safety class, I don’t think it’s a good group overall,” Roseman said Thursday afternoon. “I think you’re talking about a dropoff certainly when you get into Saturday.”
The Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins in free agency. He, along with second-year player Earl Wolff, project as starters. Nate Allen signed a one-year deal to return and could also be in the mix.
“Earl and Nate, we’re excited about their ability to take a jump,” Roseman said. “We talk about athletic tools and what’s in their body, and Nate is 6-2, he’s 215. He’s finally in the same system for the second year, and you gotta be able to play fast. You gotta not be able to think. It’s very hard on a safety going through all those system changes, especially a young player who didn’t really grow up playing the position – he was a quarterback in high school.
“And then Earl as a rookie, I thought did a really good job before he got hurt. Again, you’re talking about a guy who’s 215 pounds, who runs a 4.4. Unbelievable work ethic, off the charts. We’re excited about those guys, and bringing in [Chris] Maragos as well. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t add one if he was the best player, but at the same time we expect those guys to take a jump and be better players.”
The top safeties on the board are Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward. Clinton-Dix would probably be the best fit for the Eagles, but he’s pretty much a lock to be gone at No. 22. Pryor may not possess the versatility the team is looking for. Ward is intriguing, but is smaller (193 pounds) than they would probably prefer.
There will be other options. Washington State’s Deone Bucannon (6-1/211/4.49) has intriguing measurables. The team has also done its homework on Florida’s Jaylen Watkins and N.C. State’s Dontae Johnson.
Depending on how the board plays out, they could end up adding a safety at some point. But Roseman doesn’t appear to be counting on it.