Besides wide receiver, cornerback was one of the positions that needed the most bolstering this offseason. The crucial trade for cornerback Darius Slay gave the Eagles a clear-cut top cornerback, and it is expected that Avonte Maddox will play opposite him in the No. 2 spot.
Eagles executives must believe that signing Slay and slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman will improve the Eagles secondary enough that they were comfortable letting Ronald Darby walk and choosing not to draft another cornerback.
However, it remains to be seen if the trust they have put in Maddox to play outside cornerback is justified.
Though there’s no questioning Maddox’s talent and his value as a jack-of-all-trades for the defense, he could likely find the most success in a consistent position, allowing him to hone his skill set.
But with Maddox measuring in at a whopping 5-foot-9, there is some justifiable doubt that he will succeed at outside corner, despite the fact that he has filled in before at the position.
Hot on Maddox’s heels is 2017 draft pick Sidney Jones. After a torn Achilles tendon cost him nearly all of his rookie year to get healthy, Jones has somewhat struggled to find his footing.
However, in the 2019 regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, Jones made several key plays, including breaking up a Hail Mary shot at the end zone to secure the win for Philadelphia.
That game, in addition to a few other positive indicators, seems to have piqued the interest of Pederson and Roseman. Going into the last year of his rookie deal, Jones should be more motivated than ever to prove himself to the team.
Maddox has likely earned himself a starting spot, but it may not be where he is best suited. With Jones’ upward trajectory, Maddox will have increased pressure to step up into his new role immediately as a permanent outside cornerback.
If Maddox fails, he may find himself somewhere else entirely once the 2020 season is officially in the books.