Last week, I wrote an article predicting the Eagles’ depth chart at cornerback for the coming season. This week, I will take a look at the position that has been the bane of the Eagles since the departure of former Eagles safety, and future Hall of Famer, Brian Dawkins. The Eagles have tried to address those issues, but have not had much luck. This offseason, they once again attempted to fix the safety position. Let’s take a shot at predicting the Eagles’ depth chart at safety for the upcoming season.
The only surefire starter on the squad is free agent signee and former New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. After a failed experiment last year with safety Patrick Chung, currently of the New England Patriots, the Eagles made a move quickly to address the position in free agency. While they didn’t make a splash by signing a top free agent, they made a solid addition who fits the bill when it comes to versatility. The Eagles’ scheme doesn’t differentiate between a “strong” and “free” safety, but rather has two safeties who are asked to play both at times. Jenkins can play both well and, while he may not be a top safety in the league, he is easily the best safety on the roster.
The other safety position is really up for grabs at this point in the offseason. As of right now, Eagles safety Nate Allen, a former second-round pick who has had an up-and-down career with the Eagles, looks to be the frontrunner. Allen had his best season as a pro last year in defensive coordinator Billy Davis’ defensive scheme so the Eagles re-signed him to a one-year deal in the hopes that he may be a late bloomer. I think that if he shows more comfort in Davis’ scheme, he will retain the starting job come September.
The other player vying for that second starting safety spot is last year’s fifth-round pick, Eagles safety Earl Wolff. Wolff had a very good rookie year and showed promise before a knee injury took him out of 5 games. One play that really stuck out to me last year was against the Oakland Raiders, when he explosively blew through the offensive line on a blitz and almost sacked former Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Wolff is extremely athletic and has a lot of potential. He may surprise us this offseason by snagging the starting job from Allen.
This year, the Eagles spent another fifth-round pick on safety Ed Reynolds out of Stanford. Reynolds is not as athletic as Wolff or Allen, but he is probably the most intelligent safety on the roster. He has a very high football IQ and always finds a way to get himself in the right place at the right time. That, in addition to his ball skills, led to a lot of turnovers at Stanford. His junior year, Reynolds had 6 interceptions and returned 3 for touchdowns, coming up one yard short of the NCAA record for most interception return yards in a season. If he continues to place himself in a position to come up with turnovers in the pros, he will easily work his way into the rotation in his rookie season.
The Eagles have three other safeties on their roster: rookie Eagles safety Daytowian Lowe, second-year Eagles safety Keelan Johnson, and free-agent signee and former Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawk Chris Maragos. Of the three, Maragos is the only one sure to make the roster. He is a gifted special teams players, likely to take former Eagles safety Colt Anderson’s spot as the safety/special teams ace on the roster. Johnson and Lowe will likely be competing for a spot on the practice squad, as I can’t see either one making the 53-man roster due to the Eagles also having rookie cornerback/safety Jaylen Watkins, who can move to safety if need be.
Projected Starters: Jenkins, Allen
Projected Backups: Wolff, Reynolds, Maragos
Let me know what you think!