Byron Maxwell And Eric Rowe The Next Elite Eagles’ CB Duo?


Back in the early-mid 2000’s the Philadelphia Eagles had one of the most feared secondaries in the NFL. With the trio of Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, and Brian Dawkins, the Eagles secondary was the “Legion of Boom” back then.

Today, that is not the case. Since the departures of Sheppard and Dawkins the Eagles have been searching for that next man that can be feared in the secondary. With failed experiments in Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Cary Williams, to say the least, the Birds have been with little luck.

The last two seasons the Eagles have ranked bottom 5 in the NFL in pass defense and in 2012 ranked in the bottom five in the league in interceptions. To say the least the Eagles needed secondary help.

Enter the 2015 NFL Draft and free agency. The Eagles went with a total overhaul of their defensive backfield releasing Nate Allen, Cary Williams, and Bradley Fletcher. Chip Kelly then went on to sign the best defensive back in Byron Maxwell, however they were still left without a number two cornerback and safety.

With their second round pick, Chip Kelly and the Eagles took a versatile defensive back that could play both in Eric Rowe. The second rounder out of Utah is the first cornerback the Eagles have taken in the first two rounds since Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown in the first and second rounds in 2002.

Now, Im not comparing Rowe to Sheppard, Dawkins, or even Brown. But my point is, is it possible for him to make the impact in the secondary that those three did while they were in Philadelphia?

With 45 career starts at Utah, Rowe started nine games at corner, 36 at safety, 33 at free safety, and three at strong safety. However, Chip Kelly has said that he sees the defensive back as an outside cornerback in their system.

He is a big, physical press corner that the Eagles have been looking for as he’s over 205 pounds with long arms. At Utah, Rowe recorded 261 tackles, and his 34 pass breakups are tied for third-most in school history.

That is game changing and something that the Eagles have missed in their secondary. From 2004-2006 Sheppard gave the Eagles 14 interceptions in just 38 games. From 2003-2009, Brown gave the Eagles double digit pass breakups which included one in which he had 25. From that same 2004-2006 era, Dawkins had over 200 tackles and 7.5 sacks.

Rowe’s versatility however, is invaluable. The fact that he knows both positions and has the athleticism to play both gives the Eagles and Billy Davis a lot of flexibility. As it stands right now, the Eagles have Earl Wolff and Malcolm Jenkins at safety. If Wolff doesn’t work out, Davis very well could move Rowe to safety and put Nolan Carroll at corner.

With the pickup of Maxwell, the Eagles get another corner that delivers a strong press at the line to reroute receivers and a corner that shows good instincts in zone coverage with the ball skills to make interceptions. In limited snaps in Seattle, Maxwell had 6 interceptions and 24 pass breakups the past two seasons.

Not to mention he’s aggressive in run support, sheds effectively and is a solid tackler. The former Seahawks corner has 58 tackles the last two years.

The Eagles have missed that game changer in the secondary since the trio of Dawkins, Sheppard, and Brown left. With Rowe and Maxwell, the Eagles are back on their way to reliving those days. Maxwell and Rowe give the Eagles a physicality and presence that the secondary has desperately missed and needed.

Next: Lane Johnson becoming Elite

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