Coming off of the recent spring training sessions, it appears that the second Cornerback position, opposite Byron Maxwell belongs to Nolan Carroll. Carroll has lined up with the first team during all of these sessions, but there’s an underdog waiting in the wing to make the spot his own.
Rookie Eric Rowe has never started an NFL game, but following excessive praise from Chip Kelly and a fantastic college career may just be the perfect man to start alongside the former Seahawk.
Rowe started in all of his four years at Utah with the first three of those being as a safety before transitioning to cornerback in his senior year. Kelly said from the get go that Rowe is in the hunt to be starting in his rookie season and those comments are somewhat highlighted following his impressive spring performances.
The traits Rowe carries are all signs of aggressive defense. He’s tall, quick with his feet and made a huge amount of turnovers in the previous weeks training sessions. He’s The type of corner that would benefit hugely from playing time alongside Maxwell and also the type that would give opposing receivers a really hard time on the field.
The big uncertainty hovering over the position isn’t actually to do with the second round draft pick. Last year the secondary was a disaster there’s no hiding that. But if Carroll is all of a sudden ready to go, why didn’t he at least get a shot last season? It wasn’t like things could get any worse? Surely Kelly would have at least got him some game time if he was even close to being up to standard? The Eagles finished second-to-last in passing yards allowed per game last year, which is basically the reason why Kelly has ripped away the core and built a whole new secondary.
It’s widely believed that Carroll has done a Tebow and improved hugely in the offseason. However,this isn’t a rookie coming off of a bad opening year that still has plenty of growing room in his pants, this is a five-year veteran who may well need a new size. It’s his second season in Philadelphia and it’s somewhat hard to believe that he’s a completely different player to what he was a few months ago. We may be wrong, but it’s highly unlikely.
Compare that to a rookie in Rowe who is a physical corner with the all of the boxes ticked when it comes to general attributes. The Eagles know Carroll. They know how he plays, they know his ability. Their draft pick however, is somewhat of a wildcard. If it’s seen as risky starting a rookie with such an impressive athletic ability, then what is starting a veteran who started just one game for the birds last season? The only man who knows for sure is Chip Kelly, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Eric Rowe starting come the first week of pre-season as a test at least.