It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles still have a gaping hole at safety in their secondary. Besides starter Malcolm Jenkins, the team is lacking players at the position with a significant amount of starting experience. Although they do have some young, promising defensive backs in Eric Rowe, JaCorey Shepherd, Randall Evans, Ed Reynolds and Jaylen Watkins, it remains to be seen which positions they will play and whether or not they have a legitimate shot at starting at safety in 2015.
But according to his recent Instagram post, it looks like Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger is on his way out of town. Should the Eagles be interested in pursuing Swearinger in either a trade or if he’s released? I’m not so sure about that. Although they have a major need at the position, you don’t just take anyone that becomes available.
Swearinger is actually a solid starter but between his size and coverage ability, he doesn’t exactly fit what the Eagles look for at safety. He’s just 5-10, 208 pounds and didn’t have the greatest combine performance back in 2013. As you can see with Philadelphia’s latest draft class where head coach Chip Kelly had full control, the team really values height, weight and speed measurables.
But what really matters the most to the Eagles and Kelly is a safeties versatility and coverage ability. Which isn’t exactly a strong point for Swearinger and something he has struggled with throughout his young career. In 2014, Swearinger allowed 35 receptions on 59 targets while he was in coverage for 5 touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 99.2, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). That’s clearly not very good and an area of concern for any team that decides to take a chance on Swearinger once he leaves Houston.
Although he is considered more of a “box safety”, Swearinger isn’t exactly great against the run either. He graded out as PFF’s third worst run defending safety in the entire league with only Ryan Clark and George Wilson rated below him. Swearinger also had 16 total missed tackles during the 2014 season. That could have a ton to do with Swearinger always going for the big, highlight hit instead of a technically sound tackle. Either way, that’s something that could turn of the Eagles unless he can somehow improve in both of these areas with a new team.
While it’s easy to get wrapped up in Swearinger’s hard hits on the field and the tough mindset he plays with, I highly doubt the Eagles will show much interest, if any, in him. Maybe if he’s released, the Eagles could give him a non-guaranteed contract to see if he can improve with their coaching, but it’s unlikely. There’s a reason that Kelly hasn’t drafted or signed any other “box safeties” and that’s because they don’t fit in the Eagles’ defensive scheme. Although Swearinger would offer some much needed starting experience but he wouldn’t exactly fit in well in Philadelphia.
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