The safety position is arguably one of the strongest on the team. With the duo of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, the Eagles have their safety woes answered for at least the next four seasons after Jenkins’ extension signed in February and McLeod’s free agency payday.
The number of times Malcolm Jenkins was beat for a long score can be counted on one hand. For McLeod, we might need two hands. Jenkins was on the field for 1019, or 99.9 percent, of the team’s defensive snaps in 2016. McLeod was right behind him with 1014 snaps. Neither showed signs of slowing down by the end of the season despite the heavy dosage of plays.
Jenkins was snubbed from a second straight Pro Bowl berth due to the poor play of the Eagles defensive backfield as a whole. McLeod should have been in the mix as well. The duo combined for six interceptions and 16 pass breakups. Jenkins led the league in defensive touchdowns with two while the safeties made their presence known in the backfield with a sack and three tackles for loss each.
The Eagles haven’t yet had to dip into their safety depth chart because of injury. Although when Ron Brooks was ruled out for the year, Jenkins was moved to the slot..opening up a huge opportunity for Jaylen Watkins..who did more than enough to show he belongs. With Jaylen Watkins moved to pure safety and delivering on several occasions, the Eagles have an experienced backup and special teams contributor if needed.
Additionally, Chris Maragos, one of the best special teams players in the league, signed a three-year extension tying him to the Eagles through the 2019 season. Maragos’ NFL goal has always been to be a starting safety in the league but has made a great niche with his contributions on special teams.
A player to keep an eye on in the offseason is Terrence Brooks. Brooks made his presence felt in the 11 games he played for the Eagles in 2016. As a role player Brooks intercepted a pass that locked up the win against the New York Giants. He also forced two fumbles, one of which came in that same game against the Giants.
The Eagles have talent and youth at the safety position. With the safeties as the strongest group of the “No Phly Zone,” there is no immediate need to address the position. Should the Eagles find themselves in a “best player available” position later in the draft, defensive back is among the deepest and strongest in the class and the team could yield good value.
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