The Philadelphia Eagles have an opportunity to improve the secondary during the 2019 NFL Draft by selecting University of Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
The Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary is a position group that faces arguably the most scrutiny on the team. Returning from injuries, inconsistencies, age, and expiring contracts litter the defensive back room in Philadelphia. So shifting the focus to address that area during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft isn’t incredibly illogical.
The Eagles have retained Ronald Darby for another year, after losing him to a season-ending injury, in a move that surprised some given the perceived depth of the position. The other starting outside cornerback, Jalen Mills, was also lost to a season-ending injury during the 2018 campaign.
Both Darby and Mills are scheduled to be free agents in 2020. Veteran safety Rodney McLeod also makes his return this season after being lost early last year to a knee injury. The team re-worked his contract, giving McLeod a new one-year deal while asking of him to prove his worth to the franchise once again to acquire more commitment.
Health concerns continue to circle for the once very promising 2017 second-round cornerback, Sidney Jones, as he attempts to return to his dominant University of Washington form. Jones spent the majority of his sophomore season handling the slot cornerback spot for 199 of his 343 total snaps while missing time with injury.
Cre’von LeBlanc signed with Philadelphia during the season and carved out his role in the slot replacing Jones at a high level. Rasul Douglas was another unsung hero of the secondary due to injuries last season but still hasn’t given the coaching staff enough indication for more playing time.
Tre Sullivan is the other wildcard at safety. After battling back from a disastrous start to his sophomore season, the young defensive back bounced back towards the end of the year seeing an increase in snaps over veteran and ex-Eagle Corey Graham. Avonte Maddox is also another young player that has shown a lot of promise based off of his surprising rookie season while starting at safety and outside cornerback.
The Eagles relied on Maddox to be their top cornerback with all the injuries the unit suffered, and the 2018 fourth-round pick did not disappoint. For those reasons alone, it would be wise to keep Maddox at cornerback for competition purposes while hoping he helps paints the future at the position.
With Maddox facing a potential sophomore slump. And LeBlanc needing to prove his stellar coverage wasn’t a fluke while continuing to play well past just his six starts last season (including postseason), and Jones’ questionable health, the Eagles, do face some uncertainty at the nickel cornerback spot.