Eagles Wake-Up Call: Searching For Safeties
Ed Marynowitz called the traditional safety “a dying breed.”
The new vice president of player personnel explained that because the NFL is evolving into more of a spread, pass-oriented league, teams are moving away from box safeties and towards prospects with better cover skills. That’s certainly true of the Eagles.
“The way we play our safeties, we like those guys to be able to roll down and play slot coverage. In order to play man coverage, they have to have the athleticism to do that. Typically, the traditional box safeties don’t have that,” said Marynowitz.
Given their criterion, it’s entirely possible that Chip Kelly and company don’t view Alabama’s Landon Collins — widely considered the top safety in this class — as a fit.
Where might they turn? Mike Mayock provided some potential scheme-friendly options for the Eagles during a recent conference call with reporters.
Damarious Randall (5-11, 196), Arizona State
Projected round: 2
“I think the first safety in this class is different than what most people think, and the first safety off the board is going to be, in my opinion, Damarious Randall from Arizona State,” said Mayock. “He’s by far the best cover safety in this draft, and two months ago he was considered a third or fourth round pick. Now he’s a first round pick, and he’s going ahead of Landon Collins because Collins is more of a box safety or a dime linebacker.”
Sheil did a detailed write-up on Randall if you’d like to explore further.
Eric Rowe (6-1, 205), Utah
Projected round: 1-2
Marynowitz indicated that they are looking for players that can cross train at corner and safety. Rowe has experience playing both positions and could be an intriguing option for the Eagles.
“It’s such a bad safety class…which corners can convert over? [One of the] guys that makes the most sense [is] Eric Rowe from Utah, who I’ve got a second round grade on regardless of where you play him, corner or safety,” said Mayock.
Quinten Rollins (5-11, 195), Miami (OH)
Projected round: 2
“The basketball player who played one year at corner for Miami of Ohio; I moved him over into my safety list, and I think he’s going to go in the second round as a safety,” said Mayock.
Rollins, who had not played football since high school, returned to the sport in 2014 and picked off seven passes en route to being named MAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Adrian Amos (6-0, 218), Penn State
Projected round: 3-4
The Eagles have done a good bit of homework on Amos, who played some slot corner for the Nittany Lions.
“They like my versatility at safety and being able to play cornerback,” he said.
Alex Carter (6-0, 196), Stanford
Projected round: 3-4
A physical cornerback in college, Carter could play safety at this level.
“He’s got height, weight, speed (4.5 40), and again, if he can do that one job of coming inside and covering tight ends, he’s got a high value,” said Mayock.
Ladarius Gunter (6-1, 202), Miami
Projected round: 4-5
Gunter started all 13 games for Miami last season. From NFL.com:
Flashed at Senior Bowl practices with a nose for the ball. Wrap-up tackler who is patient in run support and works to position of leverage and containment. Excels in off coverage and has played outside, as single-high safety and over tight ends. Plays on kick-coverage team.
Nick Marshall (6-1, 207), Auburn
Projected round: 7
The former Auburn quarterback moved to cornerback for the Senior Bowl. He originally committed to Georgia (to play defense) but was dismissed for violating team rules.
Julian Wilson (6-2, 205), Oklahoma
Projected round: UFA
Wilson played some safety in college but was primarily a corner. From NFL Draft Scout:
Cornerback Julian Wilson, who looks the part at 6-2 and 205 pounds, ran a disappointing 40-yard dash (4.58) at the NFL Combine, but improved that number at the Sooners’ pro day, running in the 4.44-4.49 range. With his size and speed, Wilson is an intriguing late round option, fitting the mold of what teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers seek at the position.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Have you preordered your Eagles Almanac yet? Sheil and I will once again have chapters in this year’s edition.
A round-up of Eagles-related draft buzz from over the weekend.
Draft (and even a couple Super Bowl) predictions from around the division.
A look at all of the players the Eagles have been linked to during the pre-draft process.
Weekend reading: “The Eagles would land on the list of usual suspects if they tried to trade [Dion Jordan].”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Eagles have been one of the three worst teams at drafting in the first round since 2000 according to SI.com, along with the Jaguars and Raiders.
It’s remarkable the Eagles have steadily contended since 2000 (Philly’s 144 wins are the fifth-most during that span) because they haven’t drafted a future Pro Bowler in the first round since 2004. (Jeremy Maclin’s lone Pro Bowl appearance doesn’t count, since he was originally selected as an alternate last season before replacing Demaryius Thomas.) Admittedly, the Eagles got a lot of mileage from taking Donovan McNabb No. 2 in 1999, one year outside of the span of this exercise.
Since then, the only high picks who have panned out were Corey Simon, Lito Sheppard and Shawn Andrews, who combined for five Pro Bowl campaigns. At least Fletcher Cox and Lane Johnson still have time to improve Philly’s standing here.
The Eagles have made some pretty poor draft decisions on Day 1 over the years, but perhaps none top trading up 15 spots in the first round to select 25-year-old defensive end Jerome McDougle in 2003. For the price of the No. 30 and No. 62 picks, Philadelphia gained just 29 tackles, three sacks and zero starts from McDougle between 2003-06.
In his latest mock draft, Ron Burke of CSN has Marcus Mariota going second overall to Cleveland and the Eagles trading up for a receiver.
11. Eagles (trade with Minnesota) – DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville*
*The Eagles have no plans to wait for the fourth or fifth receiver. They send picks No. 20 and No. 52 (second round) to the Vikings to snare a much-needed playmaker. Parker (6-3, 209) needs to improve his physical strength, but he can make big plays and bring YAC to the offense.
Three days until the draft.