Safety First? Possibly Never?
The horse has been beaten without mercy since the end of the 2008 season and the Eagles have been linked to every top safety since the departure of team legend Brian Dawkins. I promised myself I wouldn’t harp on 2010 here, but needless to say there wasn’t a safety on the Eagles who received a four-year, $40 million extension last week.
The top safety prospects have been clamored for by the Eagles fan base at different points, with Calvin Pryor leading the early charge for reasons that make a lot of sense on the surface: he hits hard, he’s a physical presence that the Eagles don’t otherwise have in the secondary, and he’s more realistically available than Clinton-Dix. On the other hand, Ha-Ha fits the Eagles better in terms of the play style that Billy Davis (Eagles defensive coordinator) prefers but is projected to be off the board within the top fifteen picks.
Outside of first round favorites, the common names are NIU’s Jimmie Ward and Washington State’s Deone Bucannon. Bucannon is my personal favorite of the 2014 safety prospects, and while not flawless I think he compliments free-agent signing Malcolm Jenkins extremely well. It’s not a perfect fit, but less of a square peg in a round hole than Pryor appears to be.
It’s important to note that the Eagles don’t use traditional safety positions, preferring to use two versatile players as “left” and “right” safeties who can cover as well as play run support — the problem is that great players who can do both don’t come around often.
It might not even matter, because Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman gave a less-than-stellar review to the safety group in 2014 at a pre-Draft press conference; noting a significant downward trend in talent into the third day. This prompted reactions from around the internet that the Eagles were no longer interested in a safety at all, but to me all it says is that if they’re going to take one it’s going to be early in. If the value is there, it will happen.