Who Should Start At Safety For The Philadelphia Eagles?


The Philadelphia Eagles desperately needed to fix their secondary after a disappointing season, and the team made their best effort to do so. The Eagles gave the secondary a complete makeover, ridding themselves of under achieving  players and singing/drafting quality players. The only question now is who will lock down the open safety spot?

When the Philadelphia Eagles decided to let go of future Hall of Famer and all-time Eagle great Brian Dawkins back in 2009, it left a seemingly gigantic hole at the safety position. Since Dawkins departure, the team has gone through safety after safety. Guys like Quintin Demps, Sean Jones, Kurt Coleman, Kenny Phillips, Marlin Jackson, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Patrick Chung, and Nate Allen have all fizzled out as potential long term answers at the safety spot. This lack of consistency has led the Eagles to having one of the worst secondaries in the past 5 years.

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This year the Philadelphia Eagles put their leaky secondary at the top of the to-do list. The team cut the horrid corner duo of Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams, and let safety Nate Allen walk in free agency. Philadelphia then signed corner Byron Maxwell to a mega deal, and used three draft picks on secondary players this past draft. Head coach Chip Kelly put an emphasis on strengthening a weak secondary and has done a good job in building towards that goal. The corner positions seem to be locked down with Maxwell and Eric Rowe forming a formidable duo. Malcolm Jenkins holds one safety spot and looks like a long term answer, but the last spot in the secondary is up for grabs.

The most common name you hear around Philadelphia Eagles fans is Earl Wolff. Wolff showed promise in his rookie year in 2013, but was hampered by a knee injury which carried over the following season. Wolff had to get season ending knee surgery, but can he regain the form he once showed? Knee injuries are very debilitating at times and I’m hoping Wolff can be 100% healthy. At this point Wolff is a mystery, I personally feel he can be a good player, but he’s just too much of an injury concern.

Another option the Philadelphia Eagles can explore is the little known safety Jerome Couplin. Couplin has off the chart measurables. At 6-2, 215 pounds, Couplin ran a 4.5 forty, has 41.5-inch vertical leap, and has an absurd wingspan at 81 inches. The physical tools are all there, but the question is if he can actually play. Couplin played at William & Mary so it remains to be seen if he can translate his physical tools to the elite level of competition. Couplin looks to have potential, but still looks like a long shot to earn the starting spot opposite Jenkins.

Many have speculated whether the draftees of this year will be the answer at safety. JaCorey Shepherd and Randall Evans were both selected in the sixth round, and some think maybe one of them will convert to safety. The Philadelphia Eagles covet safeties who can come down in slot and cover wide receivers and tight ends. It makes sense that the team would be intrigued in moving a corner to safety, Malcolm Jenkins played corner in college and is now a quality safety. The Eagles are looking to remedy that success by possibly moving Shepherd or Evans. These two players can be great players down the road, but right now I’m not sure they can contribute much in the short term other than special teams.

If there’s one player that I can say I feel confident in, it will have to be Jaylen Watkins. Watkins is a forgotten name because he essentially redshirted all of last year. The former 2014 fourth round selection played outside, nickel, and safety at Florida and excelled at all three. Jaylen also boasts good size weighing 200lbs and is a shade under 6 feet tall. Watkins also added weight this offseason, preparing for a move at safety. Jaylen posses the cover ability and versatility the Philadelphia Eagles want. Watkins is injury free, has the physical tools, and is young but has some NFL experience, this all leads to Watkins being my favorite to win the starting safety job opposite Malcolm Jenkins. The pairing of Jenkins and Watkins would form a very good versatile duo, something the team hasn’t had in a very long time.

The Philadelphia Eagles have had problems at the safety position for years. Entering this season, Chip Kelly and the Eagles do have their fair share of options with numerous players that bring different types of strengthens. The team needed to address their secondary and the Eagles have done that, but the last piece in completing the makeover is missing. The competition for the last starting spot along the secondary should be fun to watch and good for the team. Jaylen Watkins looks to check all the boxes Chip Kelly has when evaluating a safety and should be the one to start. The safety position is still uncertain for now.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles: Kiko Alonso Is Being Overlooked

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