Eagles on the bubble: Secondary edition

With the curtains closed on the 2016 NFL Draft, we now turn our heads to training camp and the preparations for the upcoming season. For the Philadelphia Eagles, those preparations have already begun.

Last night the Eagles cut Jerome Couplin and Freddie Martino in order to make some room for the signing of inevitable undrafted rookie free agents that the team will likely announce shortly. Couplin did have some injury concerns last year and his impact was purely on special teams but it made me question something. Who else in the Eagles secondary is in jeopardy of being released?

The question itself seems confusing? Why would anyone in a unit that has been overhauled this offseason be in danger of being waived? Well, the Eagles have created a bit of a logjam when it comes to defensive backs. As it stands (without any undrafted rookie free agents), the Eagles have eleven on the roster.

Ron Brooks
Leodis McKelvin
Eric Rowe
Nolan Carroll
Denzel Rice
JaCorey Shepherd 
Aaron Grymes
Jaylen Watkins
Blake Countess
Randall Evans
Jalen Mills (Plays both Safety and corner)

Then there’s the less densely populated Safety position that’s currently occupied by:

Malcolm Jenkins
Rodney McLeod
Chris Maragos
Ed Reynolds

The secondary has simply gone from bare bones to enough meat to satisfy an entire restaurant chain. With the return of JaCorey Shepherd who many considered to be a steal in last year’s draft and the arrival of both Countess and Mills, it’s hard to envision that all of the names listed above will make the final roster..especially considering the Eagles could use some of this extensive depth elsewhere. So who are the names potentially on the bubble when it comes to the defensive backs?

Denzel Rice:
Rice was the only undrafted rookie free agent to make the 53-man roster last year after raising plenty of eyebrows during OTA’s and training camp. The small school underdog stepped in when needed late on in the season and appeared to find his feet very quickly. But with a new defensive coordinator in town and a new system in place, Rice may have to impress once again in the coming months to retain his spot on the roster.

 

Jaylen Watkins:
Set to be come a free agent after this season, Jaylen Watkins brings a level of aggression to his play that some of the other names here simply don’t. Watkins was a solid backup when the Eagles began to encounter injury problems at the position and he showed plenty of promise during his time on the field. The question is, will Schwartz want to keep him around for one more season or instead focus on developing guys like Countess?

 

Randall Evans:
A sixth round pick by the Eagles in 2015 who spent most of last season on the Eagles practice squad, Evans is also entering his final contracted year. The difference between him and Watkins however is that Evans struggled to get on the field after being called up as a depth option in January. However, Evans is a physical player having made 200 tackles in three seasons with Kansas State prior to being drafted. It’s that kind of play style that could see him retained by the Eagles.

 

Chris Maragos:
The special teams ace has been invaluable to one of the Eagles most effective units during his time in Philadelphia. But the 29 year old now faces competition in terms of depth from much younger and versatile players who can be plugged in at both corner and safety. Maragos is also in his final contracted year and with competition looking stiffer than ever, his roster spot may not be as secure as we hope it is.

 

In tomorrow’s article, we will evaluate a similarly loaded Wide Receiver corps and see who of the team’s wideouts could well be on the bubble.

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