Philadelphia Eagles: Stock Up, Stock Down On Defense

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Jul 26, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jaylen Watkins (37) is greeted by fans as he runs onto the field for the start of training camp at the Novacare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Stock Up: Jaylen Watkins, Defensive Back

Although the Eagles don’t have a set answer at one of their starting safety spots, second-year defensive back Jaylen Watkins will certainly be in the mix. After basically “red-shirting” his rookie season in the NFL, Watkins is ready for the opportunity to battle for a starting spot on the Eagles. He spent his entire rookie year learning the in’s and out’s of the NFL including multiple positions in the secondary, just as he did at Florida. Although he’s listed at cornerback on the team’s official roster, he has spent practice time at safety and in the slot as well.

It’s clear that Kelly and the Eagles prefer a safety with experience at cornerback as well. That’s why they went out and signed Malcolm Jenkins during free agency in 2014 and they pursued Devin McCourty so hard as a free agent this year. Watkins played all over the defensive backfield at Florida and is ready for whatever role he may play in 2015 as well. Assuming the team doesn’t swing a trade for a starting caliber safety or rookie Eric Rowe plays safety, Watkins has the inside track to the starting safety job.

At just 5-11, 194 pounds, Watkins doesn’t have the ideal size that the Eagles look for, but they clearly traded up to draft him with the first pick in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft for a reason. It’ll be interesting to see how the battle for the starting safety spot goes during training camp and preseason. But there’s no doubt that Watkins will be in the conversation and his stock is on the rise because the team failed to add any other help at the position.

Next: Stock Down: Brandon Boykin, Cornerback