Eagles Wake-Up Call: CB Training Camp Preview

Each day this week, we’ll take a look at a different position group as we count down to training camp.

What’s changed?

Can I just write “everything” and move on to the next section?

Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are out. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are in.

In the summer of 2011, the Eagles appeared to be in excellent shape at this position. They had Asante Samuel on the roster, traded for Rodgers-Cromartie and signed Asomugha. They even drafted a developmental prospect in the third round in Curtis Marsh.

Just two summers later, Marsh is the only one still on the roster.

The pressing question: Did the Eagles do enough to improve this group?

The names are different, but will the results be?

According to the Football Outsiders Almanac, Williams finished 79th out of 87 corners in success rate (definition here) last season. As a point of reference, Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha finished 62nd and 65th, respectively.

Williams also allowed a combined 41 first downs/touchdowns, third-most in the NFL, per the FOA. On the flip side, he only missed two tackles all season and had four interceptions to go along with 17 passes defensed.

Flethcher, meanwhile, got benched during the second half of last season in favor of younger options, but has had productive stretches in the past.

It would be hard for the corners as a group to be worse than last year. The Eagles allowed a league-worst 33 touchdown passes in 2012 and only had eight interceptions (30th). But there’s no guarantee that Williams and Fletcher will provide a significant upgrade either.

Don’t be surprised if…

Boykin emerges as one of the better inside corners in the league. His 58 percent success rate last year ranked 15th, according to Football Outsiders.

And per Pro Football Focus’ charting numbers, Boykin only allowed three receptions in the Eagles’ final six games.

The Eagles played with at least one extra corner 49 percent of the time last year. I’d be surprised if Boykin got a shot on the outside, but if he improves in the slot, the Eagles will be ecstatic.

Roster battles to watch

While Williams and Fletcher are the favorites, Marsh has an outside chance of stealing some playing time. The third-year corner had good measurables coming out of Utah State, but he’s yet to prove he can be a productive player in the NFL.

Seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer has generated some buzz nationally as a potential sleeper. Given his versatility, he has a chance to stick, although I don’t see him unseating Boykin for the nickel job.

Brandon Hughes, meanwhile, seems to just make the cut every year.

Williams, Fletcher and Boykin look like locks to make the roster. Marsh, Hughes and Poyer will probably be competing for two spots.


The Eagles have invested $1 million in technology upgrades. T-Mac has the details.

Peter King makes a Chip Kelly/Jimmy Johnson comparison. Here’s what they’re saying about the Eagles.

Yesterday’s installment of the camp preview series looked at the running backs.


SI.com’s Don Banks wonders whether Kelly will have the Eagles looking like an NFL version of Oregon by the end of the preseason:

Complicating the situation, of course, is the quarterback competition that will rage in the coming weeks, with Michael Vick, Nick Foles and maybe even rookie Matt Barkley vying to prove their skill set is the best fit for Kelly’s aggressive and attacking approach. The sooner the Eagles’ offense identifies its trigger man, the better. Starting next week, all seat belts should be fastened for a full-speed takeoff in Philly.

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News looks at Kelly’s decision to hold camp in Philadelphia:

As everyone knows, Kelly places a premium on players’ getting a good night’s sleep. You don’t have to be the CEO of Serta to figure out that a player is likely to sleep better in his own bed or at the Airport Marriott than on a lumpy dorm-room mattress with a 330-pound offensive lineman with sleep apnea lying 4 feet away from you.


Some notes on Kelly and what he looks for in the box score.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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