Eagles Wake-Up Call: Cornerbacks To Keep

JaCorey Shepherd and Eric Rowe. (Photo by Jeff Fusco)

JaCorey Shepherd and Eric Rowe. (Photo by Jeff Fusco)

Today’s question comes from reader Trey:

With all the different bodies at CB, who among the CBs do you think make the 53?

Good one, Trey. The cornerback competition promises to be packed with plenty of intrigue this summer. Leodis McKelvin separated himself from the pack and was a constant with the first team for Jim Schwartz during the spring, but did not have a steady partner at the other outside corner spot. (Ron Brooks got the most reps there, it appeared.) A starting job is still up for grabs.

There’s the matter of figuring out who will man the slot, and to your question, which young talent to hold onto.  Plenty to sort through. To get a better feel for what management and the coaching staff is up against, let’s look at the corners on roster currently:

Ron Brooks
Nolan Carroll
Aaron Grymes
Leodis McKelvin
Jalen Mills
Denzel Rice
Eric Rowe
JaCorey Shepherd
C.J. Smith
Jaylen Watkins
Randall Evans

That’s 11 candidates — somewhere around double the amount of corners the Eagles are likely to carry on their 53-man roster. As a point of reference, they opened each of the last two seasons with five cornerbacks. That seems like a low figure in this circumstance, but if Howie Roseman and Co. do go with that number, the first five in would likely be McKelvin, Brooks, Carroll, Rowe and Mills. If they go six, there’s going to be a fight for that final slot.

Shepherd is an interesting case to follow. He appeared in line for the nickel role last season before tearing the ACL in his right knee during training camp. He’s not all the way back yet but did take part in some team drills during minicamp and expects to be a full participant this summer. He’ll be working to regain his form while simultaneously competing against the likes of Watkins and Rice for a place on the 53-man.

Rice, the second-year player out of Coastal Carolina, caught the attention of Cory Undlin with a couple nice plays during the three-day minicamp. Watkins is a former fourth-round pick of Roseman’s who brings a little position versatility to the table, which could work to his benefit.

Assuming Shepherd is able to make a full recovery, I’d lean towards keeping him on the team at the moment given his upside. But there’s training camp and the preseason still to go.


“He’s truly become an extension of our coaching staff and we feel really good about what he’s shown through these first nine days.” NFC East Roundup.

“If [Doug] Pederson had been completely honest, his response to [Sam] Bradford’s trade demand might well have been reduced to two words of unambiguous awesomeness. Child please.Weekend Reading.

Connor Barwin and Fletcher Cox made separate statements about the Nelson Agholor situation.

Agholor was accused of rape by an exotic dancer at the Cheerleaders strip club Thursday after practice.

“I think more about him probably than I do the guys that are here.”  Pederson was disappointed that Isaac Seumalo had to miss OTAs and minicamp due to the graduation rule.

“That may be my eye-opener like, hey, it’s a little different here.” Multiple players discuss the player-fan dynamic.


It’s early, but the Eagles seem to be enjoying the Pederson era so far, Bob Ford of the Inquirer writes.

The real bottom line for all of them doesn’t arrive until September, but having a team that appears to be on the same page until that accounting begins is a positive. On the other hand, a year ago the players all said they bought into what Kelly was selling, too, so take that for what it’s worth. Still, a little peace and quiet isn’t a bad thing.

Pederson didn’t have an entirely smooth road this spring. He had to hold his own with the scouting and player personnel departments when they were assessing potential draft picks and free agent signings and putting together a roster philosophy. There’s no way to judge how much weight he carried in those discussions, but he did get Chase Daniel in the quarterbacks room, which he wanted, and he appeared enthusiastic about the decision to spend multiple tickets in order to get one dance with Carson Wentz.

That decision, and the trades and other moves to make it possible, almost certainly mean the Eagles won’t be as competitive in the coming season, but, again, Pederson didn’t betray a hint of not being on board with it. He obviously feels he won’t be judged too harshly on just his rookie season. He better hope not, anyway.

Tommy Lawlor writes that the defensive tackle position behind Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan isn’t crystal clear.

Beau Allen is hurt and didn’t practice this spring. He played in the 4-3 in his first 3 years at Wisconsin. Allen totaled 6.5 sacks in 2011 and 2012, showing an ability to make some plays. Since his Senior season, Allen has been a 3-4 NT. He had 1.5 sacks as a Senior. Since coming to the NFL, he has 1 TFL and 0.5 sacks in 2 seasons. Allen isn’t the kind of guy who is going to make plays regardless of scheme. He must attack at the snap if he’s going to make a play on his own.

We didn’t hear much about Taylor Hart. I know he got some reps with the starters early on in the OTAs, but I have no idea how he fared.

Mike Martin was signed in the spring and got some praise from his teammates. He has played in 46 career games, including 5 starts. Martin could be a good backup for the Eagles. He is a better fit as a backup NT than 3-technique. Martin is 6-1, 298. He can be quick off the ball and shoot gaps, but isn’t explosive.

Derrick Lott was a UDFA last year, spending time with both the Titans and Bucs. The 6-4, 305 DT began his college career at Georgia before transferring to Tennessee-Chattanooga. You can see why Jim Schwartz would be interested in him when watching some clips.


Our thoughts are with those suffering in Orlando.

Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.