Analyzing Philadelphia Eagles UDFA Eli Ricks: What the experts have said
Rookie minicamp approaches, and the Philadelphia Eagles welcome seven new draftees, a couple of handfuls of rookie free agents, and a group of hungry young potential stars that have been invited to the NovaCare Complex for a tryout. Believe it or not, there’s more than the Georgia Bulldogs program to discuss.
One of the main attractions is an undrafted rookie free agent, cornerback Eli Ricks. After spending his first two seasons at the collegiate level with the LSU Tigers, he transferred to spend the 2022 NCAA football season with the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide.
44 tackles, ten pass breakups, five interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns are the result of 28 games at the collegiate level. Now, he sets his sights on the greener pastures of the NFL. Let’s take a more in-depth look at a prospect much of the Eagles fan base and Philly media is excited about.
Here’s some background on Elick Ricks.
Ricks hails from Rancho Cucamonga, California. Yes… the same Rancho Cucamonga where Craig (Ice Cube’s character in the Friday series) found safe haven with Uncle Elroy after the neighborhood bully, Debo, was released from prison. Sorry… That has nothing to do with the Eagles or this prospect. We just think it’s really cool to say ‘Rancho Cucamonga’.
Now, that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about some football.
Ricks has dined at the table with titans, both at the prep and professional level. After transferring from Mater Dei to IMG Academy for his senior year and earning a five-star rating, he landed with the then-defending national champion LSU Tigers. He even earned some early comparisons to Richard Sherman.
He became a star at LSU immediately as a freshman, but things turned for both him and LSU in 2021. The Tigers struggled. Ricks’ season ended when he tore his labrum after only ten games. He entered the transfer portal and landed on his feet, joining the Alabama Crimson Tide.
A strong finish to a season that started slow put him back on some NFL radars, thus our current state of affairs. Eli Ricks is an Eagle. The questions are about how long he’ll stay. Here’s a brief synopsis of a very talented rookie.
- Prototypical size
- Excels in both press and off coverage
- Elite length that creates a large disruption radius
- Above average hip fluidity for a six-foot-two corner
- Minimal to no delay in transitions
- Jams well at the line
- Excellent ball skills
- There’s a lack of vertical speed
- May not be able to close on elite receivers if separation occurs
- Sometimes struggles when covering hitch routes
- Over-relies on two-hand jams at times
- Doesn’t decelerate well sometimes
- Can become ‘grabby’ when frustrated by better receivers
- Doesn’t anticipate as well
Here’s what a few draft experts have said about Eagles undrafted free agent Eli Ricks.
Eli Ricks has the physical traits to be an NFL star. He has the prototypical size to be a professional cornerback. Now, he just needs to demonstrate that he can play like one.
He’s six-foot-two. He tips the scales at 188 pounds, and he’s the owner of a pair of 32 and 3/8-inch arms and eight and 7/8-inch hands.
The Eagles’ defensive backs room is crowded. At cornerback, James Bradberry, Darius Slay, and Avonte Maddox are locks to make the roster. Josh Jobe, Josiah Scott, and Zech McPhearson were all on the 53-man roster a year ago. Mario Goodrich returns for another tour of duty.
Greedy Williams, Tristin McCollum, rookie draftee Kelee Ringo, and fellow UDFA Mekhi Garner are the new guys. We’ll see if there are any other additions, but as of right now, it feels like Ricks may have had a better shot to make the roster last season. He’ll have a tough hill to climb in 2023.
Before the draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein gave Ricks a draft grade of 6.00, meaning he’s someone that possesses the traits to become an above-average backup at football’s highest level. Here’s some of what Chad Reuter had to say about the former five-star recruit.
"Ricks garnered Freshman All-American and SEC All-Freshman honors in his first season in Baton Rouge with 20 tackles, four interceptions, two returned for scores, and five pass breakups in 10 games (seven starts). He started the first six games of the 2021 season (11 tackles, one INT, one PBU) before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Ricks then entered the transfer portal, moving on to Alabama. He started five of nine games played (13 tackles, four pass breakups), missing midseason games to injury."
On their 2023 NFL Draft big board, Pro Football Focus ranked Eli Ricks as the 20th-best cornerback in the class and as their 124th-best prospect in the 2023 draft class regardless of position. They admire the fact that he “locked receivers down” They also credit him with yielding “all of six catches on 19 targets for 77 yards with five pass breakups on the year”.
Athlon Sports calls him “a big, ball-hawking corner” that “still has to sand down some rough edges”, but they also believe “his ball skills will likely earn him a starting job early” Here’s more of their take.
"Eli Ricks was a top-20 national recruit at LSU before landing at Alabama… Injuries have been an issue at times for him, but Ricks has a dominant upside… He moves and catches the ball like a wide receiver, and his length allows him to dominate at the catch point. He’s at his best in press coverage when he can smother receivers going down the sideline, and he has a great feel for tracking the ball. He can play off-man as well, and he transitions effectively out of his backpedal for a bigger corner."
When you have a moment be sure to check out Ian Cummings’ profile on the former Tide/Bayou Bengals star as well as everything written about him on The Draft Network. As mentioned earlier, many believe the Birds struck oil post-draft with his addition. Now, he has to go out and prove that with his play. Making the initial 53-man roster won’t be easy, but he figures to get plenty of opportunities.