Reed Blankenship hopes to crack starting lineup in second Eagles season
Every offseason, there are long shots to make the Philadelphia Eagles roster. That’s a feeling that Reed Blankenship knows all too well. One year ago, he was the longest of long shots. Most of you know the story well, but if you don’t, let’s rewind the tape 12 months.
Saying the Eagles have had turnover at the safety position would be an understatement. Fan-favorite Rodney McLeod was allowed to walk during the free-agency frenzy. Anthony Harris was surprisingly re-signed to a one-year deal. Philly even flirted with Jaquiski Tartt for a spell.
Before the regular season, Philly had determined that it would be wise to release Tartt and Harris (the latter eventually returned to the practice squad twice). The Birds added C.J. Gardner-Johnson, but now, he’s gone too. So is another starter from the 2022 squad, Marcus Epps. That places Blankenship back in the spotlight. Expect this young man looks to make good on his chance.
Might Reed Blankenship crack the Eagles’ starting lineup in 2023?
After dishing out an exorbitant amount of guaranteed money to Carson Strong ($320,000), Noah Ellis ($250,000), and Kennedy Brooks ($240,000) among others, Reed Blankenship was given a whopping $55,000 to sign with the Birds. All he did was work his way onto the initial 53-man roster. He had beaten the odds, but the work wasn’t done.
Reed saw his name scratched from the lineup for the first four games (and in weeks, six, seven, and 14). Once the regular season had concluded, he wound up with ten in-game appearances coupled with four starts at season’s end.
Undrafted rookies are undrafted, more often than not, for a reason. Reed Blankenship is a different breed. He has never looked the least bit uncomfortable when given an opportunity. In total, his rookie season produced 34 tackles and two pass breakups. He even snagged his first career interception off the arm of a future Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Take a look.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Sydney Brown out of Illinois. He and Blankenship join K’Von Wallace, Justin Evans, and Terrell Edmunds as the five safeties on Philly’s current 90-man roster.
As we approach another campaign, Reed has a realistic shot at cracking the defensive starting lineup. Pro Football Focus names him as their breakout candidate from the Eagles’ 2023 roster. Here’s how Zoltán Buday, the writer of the story, defends making that decision.
"The Eagles lost both starting safeties in Marcus Epps and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in free agency, so former undrafted free agent Reed Blankenship should play a major role on the Philadelphia defense in 2022.Blankenship made an impact last year when he got more playing time during Gardner-Johnson’s injury, as his 76.2 PFF grade ranked 21st at the position over the last seven weeks of the season."
In a PFF roster ranking, one the Eagles topped, Blankenship was named as their ‘x-factor’. Dalton Wasserman and Jim Wyman penned that story. Here’s what they had to say.
"Following up on the aforementioned holes over the middle, Blankenship enters 2023 with a great opportunity to start after a surprising rookie year in which he finished with a 79.4 overall grade. He earned an 89.4 run-defense grade, fourth best among qualified safeties, and made some plays in coverage — including an interception of Aaron Rodgers. The Eagles will still have an elite pass rush and excellent outside cornerback play. They need Blankenship to be the glue in the middle."
Witnessing Reed Blankenship’s journey has truly been an amazing watch already. He has come a long way already. Something tells us we’re going to have to drag him off of the field to keep him from reaching his goal of being a long-time contributor.