Jalen Mills is primed for success with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020.
The Philadelphia Eagles have large shoes to fill at safety after allowing Malcolm Jenkins to walk just this past offseason. The face of the Eagles’ defense for the last six years returned to the New Orleans Saints on a four-year deal, leaving a vacancy at one of the most important positions on Philly’s defense.
Enter Jalen Mills. The fifth-year defensive back is making the transition to safety after four years of up-and-down cornerback play for Philadelphia. While his performance from 2016 to 2019 has, at times, left a lot to be desired, a position switch could do him some good.
Mills’ strengths as a football player are perfectly tailored for the safety position previously occupied by Jenkins. Mills is a strong tackler, as, in nine games, he tallied 41 total tackles with only three missed tackles last season, good for a 6.8 percent missed tackle rate. If you’re curious, Jenkins posted a missed tackle rate was 6.9 percent last season.
Mills played all over the field in 2019, moving from corner to the hybrid safety role to even covering slot receivers. His versatility mirrors that of Jenkins, as the former Eagle was an invaluable chess piece each week for Jim Schwartz’s defense. Jenkins covered slot receivers, tight ends, and running backs at an extremely high level. While it’s hard to match that type of production, Mills has shown that he can fulfill the positional requirements of the same role.
Mills’ intangibles are key for this Philadelphia Eagles team.
As far as the intangibles go, it’s obvious that Mills has the respect of the Eagles’ locker room. The evidence of that dates all the way back to his rookie season as he earned the trust of his teammates. That’s only grown with age and experience. Jenkins’ leadership was unmatched, but Mills is also a trusted veteran who can play an important part in filling that void.
Mills’ transition will also be helped by his understanding of this Eagles scheme. Mills joined the “Birds” in 2016, the same year Coach Schwartz did, and he’s one of his defensive coordinators most trusted veterans. Communication on defense will be key, and Mills will excel in that phase of the game. He’s a high IQ football player who Schwartz trusts, and we’ll see him on the field a lot in different roles for that reason.
The Eagles brought in safety Will Parks to help alleviate the stress on Mills and Rodney McLeod on the back end of the defense. They also added K’Von Wallace via the draft, but the team needs someone to step up and replace Malcolm Jenkins. Mills is perfectly qualified to do so. Look for him to turn some heads this season for the “Birds”.