The Philadelphia Eagles do not currently have two starting safeties. I feel like I’ve heard that sentence at least 100 times since Brian Dawkins left the Eagles. Malcolm Jenkins will start at one safety position but as of now we only have one starting calibre safety on the roster.
What about Eric Rowe? I hear a lot of talk about Rowe’s versatility and how he can play both cornerback and safety. I actually prefer Rowe at safety because I think he’s quite stiff for a starting outside cornerback. However, after hearing Chip Kelly talk about Rowe and describe him as a press man corner I think he is going to play at cornerback this year. Recent minicamp reports also show Rowe started taking snaps at cornerback. I think Chip sees him as a cornerback in the long term too, meaning the Eagles will need a starting safety.
Here are my candidates for the starting safety position opposite Jenkins and who I think is the favorite for the job:
The Favorite – Jaylen Watkins
This may be a surprise but I think Watkins is the most likely candidate to start. Last year when I watched Watkins before he was drafted by the Eagles, I preferred him as a safety than a cornerback. I viewed him the same way that a lot of people saw Adrian Amos before this years draft, I think they have similar qualities.
He is a capable tackler and he would be able to cover the slot very well as he’s played at cornerback previously. However, we do not know if he will be able to play single high safety and I am not sure if he is big enough to cover tight ends down the seam.
I think a lot of people expect Wolff to start at safety this year. I’m not even sure Wolff makes the roster. As we have all been longing for a safety for so long, I think that we can all overrate safeties when they show promise. Looking at Wolff so far, he is essentially a fifth round pick who has not played very well in his career so far and has been injured multiple times.
I would really like Wolff to become a good safety but I can’t see it. He looked pretty bad in limited time last year but he has said that he was limited because of his knee injury. If Wolff can come back from his knee injury and show the amount of potential that he did in his rookie year, he could surprise me and have a solid year.
I know I just said that I think he will play cornerback, but if Watkins and Wolff play really bad in training camp, what choice do you have? Chip could play Rowe at safety this year and have Walter Thurmond play outside cornerback and Brandon Boykin in the slot. Then next year, Chip could go after a starting safety and move Rowe back to cornerback if he wanted.
No one is mentioning Boykin as playing safety next season and whilst I think its unlikely, it’s not impossible. If Chip wants Rowe at outside cornerback, Thurmond may start in the slot and Boykin therefore wouldn’t be playing much. Boykin is too small to play safety realistically and I don’t think Chip will want to play him there.
However, he is only 10 pounds lighter and 2 inches smaller than Jaylen Watkins. If Chip wants to keep Rowe at cornerback and Watkins and Wolff really don’t look good in training camp, Chip may have to get creative with Boykin. Playing Boykin at safety is a last resort but he’s a talented player and it would be a waste if he doesn’t play much next year.
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