Wake-Up Call: Big Corners To Consider
Chip Kelly‘s emphasis on measurables really seems to show up at the cornerback position.
The Eagles moved quickly last March to give Kelly a pair of big, physical corners by signing Cary Williams (6-1, 190) and Bradley Fletcher (6-0, 200) in free agency. This offseason they added Nolan Carroll (6-1, 205) to the mix. It’s hard to miss the similarities there. And even though Brandon Boykin (5-9, 185) played just over 50 percent of the snaps last season as the slot corner, the head coach doesn’t sound interested in moving the playmaker outside.
“It’s a matchup game. The bigger receivers are on the outside. The smaller receivers are on the inside. So you’ve got two longer guys in Fletch and Cary that really fit in terms of getting matched up,” said Kelly. “When most people, if they’re gonna be in ’21’ personnel, then they’re not small outside. They’re big outside. So when they’re big, we’re big. I think when you bring in the Wes Welkers and the great slot receivers in this league, you need to have someone that has the ability to cover them. And I think that’s what Brandon’s strength really is. That’s the way we’ve always looked at it.”
The Eagles’ scouting department is given specific measurables to look for when searching for players. That doesn’t mean they will ignore every talent who fails to check a box, but there are guideline that they try to follow pretty closely. And Howie Roseman indicated last year that there are “deal-breakers.”
“Maybe it’s at a particular position that size is a particular function that you need there, or a certain speed,” he said. “I think there are limiting factors at certain positions that for some staffs are more important than others.”
All of this is to say that size matters to Kelly when it comes to outside corners. That should be remembered as we try and project who they might target in the upcoming draft. With that in mind, here are five cornerbacks that could fit the bill.
Kyle Fuller (6-0, 190), Virginia Tech
Projected round (via CBS Sports): 1-2
Fuller has size to go along with speed (4.47) and length (33” arms). He also has excellent feet and quickness. He lines up on the short side of the field and can play press, off and zone. He is very aware and instinctive, with very good closing and ball skills. He is an aggressive player who plays the run almost as well as [Darqueze] Dennard. He is a consistent tackler and has been a valuable special teams’ player throughout his career. — Greg Gabriel, National Football Post
Tony Pauline wrote that Bill Davis was “all over” Fuller at Virginia Tech’s pro day.
Keith McGill (6-3, 211), Utah
Projected round (via CBS Sports): 2-3
Rare size with extremely long arms and large hands — looks every bit the part. Very good athletic ability. Explosive — recorded 39-inch vertical jump and 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump. Versatile and can play safety or corner. — NFL.com
McGill, who is 25 years old, missed part of the 2011 season and all of 2012 with a shoulder injury.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste (6-3, 218), Nebraska
Projected round (via CBS Sports): 2-3
A converted receiver, Jean-Baptiste possesses intriguing ball skills, rare leaping ability and clear upside, though he lacks ideal speed and flexibility, is smoother than he is sudden and does not consistently play to his size. Warrants developmental consideration from teams employing press or Cover-2, and will be in demand given the league’s trend toward bigger defensive backs. — Nolan Nawrocki
Gil Brandt said Jean-Baptiste “looks like a clone of Richard Sherman.”
Pierre Desir (6-1, 198), Lindenwood
Projected round (via CBS Sports): 3
Desir started his college career at Washburn and then transferred to Lindenwood for his final two years. He has excellent size with long arms. He is a good athlete with rare jumping ability (11’1″ LJ, 35” VJ). He is very smooth with loose hips and turns well. He can get a little tall in his pedal but still shows he can flip his hips and has a burst out of his turn. He possesses quick feet and can move in transition very well. He dominates at a very low level of competition (Div. II) and rarely goes up against a receiver with any kind of speed…Desir has talent but is very raw. It will take some time for him to develop, but I can see him as a starter by the end of his second year or beginning of his third year. — Gabriel
Mel Kiper has Desir being taken by the Eagles in the second round.
Phillip Gaines (6-0, 193), Rice
Projected round (via CBS Sports): 2
The 6-0 Gaines broke a Rice school record with 38 pass break-ups during the season and he flashed top-end speed [at the combine], running a 4.38 40 time — just one one-hundredth of a second off Justin Gilbert’s DB-best time. He also hit over 10 feet in the broad jump and posted a 36 1/2-inch vertical.
“For a guy that’s going to be a mid- to late-[round], developmental corner,” the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said, “I’m not sure you’re going to get any better value than Phillip Gaines.” —Chris Burke, SI.com
NFL.com has Gaines going in the fourth or fifth round.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Brandon Boykin jabs at Giants defensive back Walter Thurmond, who called himself the best slot corner in the game.
Dan Snyder talks DeSean Jackson while the Eagles check out yet another receiver prospect.
In the latest Draft Daily, Sheil shows why Brandin Cooks might just be a perfect fit for Kelly.
A round-up of the latest Eagles draft predictions.
Sheil looks at how Nick Foles can improve in Year 2 under Kelly.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Mike Mayock believes the Eagles need to be thinking defense in the first round. From Domo.
“Why is everybody so gung-ho on the Eagles taking a wideout [in the first round]?” the respected NFL Network draft analyst said.
“From my perspective, they almost have to look at the best-rated defensive player on their board at [No. 22]. I think they [need to take] their highest-rated player between an edge rusher, a corner and a safety. And then, if the entire defensive board is wiped out by the time they’re on the clock, then you look at the offensive side.
Derrick Gunn caught up with Earl Wolff, who is eager to learn from Malcolm Jenkins.
“I didn’t know a lot about him, but I knew of him. It’s a great move by the organization. I can learn a lot from him,” Wolff said. “Actually I kind of sat behind him in the meeting today. He was taking notes, so I was kinda looking at how he was taking notes, and honestly I think I’m going to start sitting beside him. I know he wouldn’t mind helping me out. It’s great having a veteran player, a team leader. He knows the game like the back of his hand.”
The 2014 regular-season schedule will be announced tonight at 8.