With training camp just two weeks away, we once again dive into the birds nest to look at some of the most exciting names to look out for when it starts.
Second round pick Eric Rowe was always an interesting player to keep an eye on heading up to the draft. He started to sink down many mock drafts as the hype began to build and when he was competing against names like Marcus Peters, Trae Waynes and Kevin Johnson then there was always going to be some doubt as to where in the opening three days he would factor.
The Eagles possibly got huge bang for their buck with their 47th overall pick. Rowe has showed great versatility through his four year college career, playing at both safety and cornerback for Utah. There were a few speculating where Chip would utilise his physicality. Would he be playing safety or corner? Eric did not only start as a cornerback in OTA’s and minicamp but turned a lot of heads and is set to be in the battle to get the start come week one.
Rowe completed 42 tackles in both of his final seasons at Utah. Huge numbers, but his interception rate was low as he only picked up one. His only weakness that we could pick up on is his ball handling. Many scouts commented this on the run up to the draft but then changed their minds when looking slightly deeper, he may not have the best ball skills and yes he may not always play at the speed he’s capable of, but he’s a very solid recovery corner.
Standing at 6″1 and weighing 205 pounds, Rowe ticks all the boxes in the Chip Kelly CB prototype. Physicality and size were definitely needed after such a dismal showing from Williams and Fletcher last year. The secondary was the one area that the Eagles simply had to improve if they were to carry hopes of play-off and even Superbowl football. Rowe may just be the perfect fit for this team.
Because of his impressive size, the rookie’s style of play is very physical indeed. He succeeds hugely in press coverage and is able to manipulate opposing receivers like putty. By getting up in their face from the get go he is able to assert his presence all over the play. It forces the receiver to run an uncomfortable route as opposed to an outside seam where the Corner would push him out of bounds almost instantly.
The one quality that Eric Rowe possesses that may benefit the Eagles more than any other is his composure. Throughout his college career there have been many instances in which he has bided his time before swatting a ball perfectly out of play. Many other players in his position would simply attack the receiver and end up losing yards on a penalty call. His ability to judge the success of a potential swat is something that many corners in todays game need yet don’t possess. Whilst showcasing physicality by keeping his hands on an arm of his opponent, it’s rare to see Rowe step out of line or become too aggressive. His footwork does the talking, enabling him to keep even the most of elusive of wideouts under chains.
Chip kelly doesn’t have a huge habit of putting rookies straight into the starting lineup, he prefers to get their work ethic primed before allowing them to play in an NFL game, but the Eagles needed a corner to shut down the likes of the physical Bryant or the emphatic Jackson. Eric Rowe may just carry the domineering presence needed to provide a long term solution to these problems.