When the Philadelphia Eagles first signed Walter Thurmond, many believed it was to play cornerback. Then Thurmond revealed that he would be making the transition to safety in June. It caught many by surprise but the decision certainly made sense for the 27-year old.
Looking at their roster, the Eagles already had cornerbacks Byron Maxwell, Nolan Carroll, Brandon Boykin and three more rookie cornerbacks on their roster. But at the safety position, there was a huge void to fill and Thurmond has the skill-set to potentially fill it. Thus far, Thurmond has successfully made the move to his new-found position and seems to be the front runner to start alongside safety Malcolm Jenkins during the team’s first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts next week.
Now questions are arising about Thurmond’s status at safety because the Eagles decided to traded former slot cornerback Brandon Boykin to the Steelers. Thurmond played slot cornerback his entire NFL career and some thought he’d move back there with Boykin out of town. That won’t be the case, as Thurmond told Matt Lombardo of NJ.com earlier today at practice:
"“I was already planning on staying at safety,” Thurmond told NJ Advance Media following Saturday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex. “One’s a starting position and one comes in on sub-packages. They know I can play that situation, but we have a lot of good corners who can play well in that slot spot. JaCorey Shepherd has had a really great camp being implemented into that nickel role. So has Jaylen Watkins and E.J. Biggers. I think one of them will emerge as the starting nickel role and I’ll stay at safety.”"
It’s clear that Thurmond is comfortable at safety now and doesn’t want to downgrade to play slot cornerback once again. As he mentioned, it’s almost like turning down a full-time job for a part-time job. Yet it’s also worth noting that considering Thurmond is only under contract for one year, he’ll be able to make a whole lot more money in free agency as a safety than he would as a slot cornerback. That’s just a fact that Thurmond and his agent are certainly aware of.
That being said, it’s encouraging to see that Thurmond is sticking at safety and the Eagles may finally have an answer at both starting safety positions for the first time in a long, long time. It’s still a “wait and see” game for the Eagles and Thurmond considering he has never actually played safety in an NFL game. Things are a whole lot different in an actual game setting but Thurmond’s experience in the slot could help him make the transition, especially in the Eagles’ defensive system.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis likes to use his safeties in a variety of ways and if Thurmond possesses one thing in his tool box, it’s his versatility to line-up in multiple spots. During his days with the Seattle Seahawks, Thurmond lined up in the slot and sometimes in a single high safety position as well. Earlier in the offseason, I detailed how Thurmond certainly has the tools to transition to safety.
It’ll be interesting to see just how well Thurmond plays at his new position. Both Thurmond and the Eagles could benefit from him making a successful transition and playing at a high level in midnight green.
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