Eagles Combine Prep: Defensive Backs

Vernon Hargreaves. (USA Today Sports Images)

Vernon Hargreaves. (USA Today Sports Images)

A year ago, the Eagles knew a revamping of their woeful secondary was in order. Nate Allen, Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams were all let go. Byron Maxwell was paid big money, Walter Thurmond came in and moved to safety, Nolan Carroll was given a starting corner job, and three cornerbacks were drafted.

Fast forward a year. Maxwell didn’t perform the way the Eagles had hoped; Carroll missed the final five games of the season due to injury, while supposed nickel corner JaCorey Shepherd missed the entire year; and Rowe’s future position is still unclear. Thurmond played very well, but he might leave in free agency.

So you’ll have to excuse the Eagles if they examine the defensive backs in this draft class and wonder if there might be a few answers to the constant unrest in their secondary. Maybe a future shutdown corner? Or a safety they can put in the box and trust to make plays?

At the very least, Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ decision makers should do their due diligence, and you should, too.

In this defensive backs edition of combine prep, we look at three cornerbacks and three safeties who might draw interest from the Birds.

The projected rounds are courtesy of CBS Sports. The tape is courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com.


Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Height/Weight: 5-11, 199
Projected round: 1

Analysis (NFL.com): While scouts have voiced some concerns about Hargreaves’ size and recovery speed, you won’t find anyone who doesn’t admire his competitiveness and consistency of production. Hargreaves has a level of suddenness and explosiveness in his movements that should always have him near the ball. With top-notch ball skills and exceptional instincts that drew praise from Alabama’s Nick Saban, Hargreaves possesses the football makeup to become a Pro Bowl cornerback.


Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
Height/Weight: 5-11, 205
Projected round: 2

Analysis (NFL.com): Though lacking in desired size and physicality, Bell has the ability to match up in space and is at his best when keeping the action in front of him where he combines his vision, reactive quickness and ball skills to go make plays on the ball. Bell lacks size and isn’t an aggressive tackler so he needs to prove he can run so that he locks in his draft positioning as one of the top free safeties in this draft.


Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
Height/Weight: 6-2, 215
Projected round: 2

Analysis (NFL.com): Looks the part and has enough production to warrant a close look, but that close look shows a player with below average man cover skills and a lack of awareness in zone coverage. An even greater concern is that too many big plays were allowed because he busted coverage or failed or to execute. Thompson does his best work near the line of scrimmage and has the frame and demeanor to become a box safety in the league, but it might take time.


Jalen Mills, CB, LSU
Height/Weight: 6-0, 194
Projected round: 2

Analysis (NFL.com): Mills was injured in the off­season and missed some time early in the season while recovering from a fractured fibula. Mills isn’t as physical as teams would like in run support but will do what he has to. In man coverage, he’s rock ­solid until he has to chase vertical jack­rabbits and then it can get a little dicey. Mills will probably get action in sub ­packages early on, but might not be the every-­down player that some expect.


William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Height/Weight: 6-1, 195
Projected round: 2

Analysis (NFL.com): Tall cornerbacks with length who can run and play the football are usually in high demand and that could be the case for Jackson as well. While he has the traits for the position, the league is turning into small and fast or big and strong at the receiver spot and handling those two elements could take a year or two for him to improve in before he becomes a full-­time starter.


Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah
Height/Weight: 6-2, 219
Projected round: 2-3

Analysis (NFL.com): Violent player who looks to punish and intimidate with the force of his strikes, but who won’t compromise his form as a tackler just for the highlight reel hit. Killebrew is average in coverage, but has the size and physicality that makes him stand out in the box. With the success of Arizona’s Deone Bucannon as a hybrid linebacker, it is reasonable to assume that a team will look to Killebrew to fill that role for its defense. If he blows up the combine, he won’t get past the second day of the draft.