Going into this years NFL Draft, the Eagles, had an obvious hole in the way of the cornerback position. Which, they addressed with their 2nd and 3rd round picks, by drafting Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas. While the selections of the young CB prospects will help an ailing defensive backfield, it is still a position of need.
As we speak, 2nd year corner Jalen Mills, 6th year veteran Ron Brooks, and free-agent Patrick Robinson, stand on top of the depth chart. It is after those three that things get murky, and after a few years of bad corner play, something the Eagles need to get figured out.
They started off great in their journey for consistency, with Jones being considered one of the top players at his position in this years draft. Once he is healthy, the former Washington standout could well turn out to be the number 1 corner that the Eagles have been craving. Douglas on the other hand, is a long, scrappy, physical defensive back, that has playmaker written all over him. The duo could well grow into a starting tandem for years to come..but there’s one man not yet mentioned.
With all the additions to the cornerback position, it might be an undrafted free agent who poses the most intrigue, Jomal Wiltz.
Two Cyclones are NFL-bound.
Congrats to @CycloneFB's Jomal Wiltz & Jhaustin Thomas on signing free agent contracts! https://t.co/VEvbhX2VH7
— Iowa State Athletics (@CycloneATH) April 30, 2017
I understand the argument, “if he was so good, how come he wasn’t drafted?” Honestly we don’t have an answer, except that the draft isn’t an exact science and that sometimes players with a great skill sets get overlooked.
Coming out of Iowa State, Wiltz stuck out as the one of the only difference makers on an ugly Cyclone football team. At 5’10, 180 lbs, Wiltz plays a lot bigger than his size shows. He has smooth hips when coming out of his back pedal, great long speed, and specializes in playing in traffic. His quick feet help get him in and out of breaks, sometimes making it look like he is running the receivers route for them.
In 24 games, he amassed 90 tackles, 2 for a loss, a sack, 2 interceptions, and 20 pass deflections. His numbers don’t pop, but when you know what you’re looking for, you see a difference maker on the tape. What stands out most about Wiltz, is his soft hands and the ability to always know what the offense is doing. If you factor in his pure speed, what you see is a corner bursting with potential, and one who may have slipped through the cracks of the NFL Draft.
I don’t always put a lot of stock in pro day numbers, but when you clock a 4.3 forty, it’s hard not to notice. When you see him man up on a receiver, you learn quickly just how fast he can be, as he stays in an opposing wideouts pocket throughout the game.
He is also a willing tackler and has no issue coming up to help in the run, putting his nose on the ball. He was used a lot in the Cyclone’s blitz packages, and has the versatility to play all 6 (Both outside spots, Dime, Nickel, Strong and Free Safety) positions, in the defensive backfield. He also adds value to the highly coveted Eagles special teams, as he can play in all cores of that as well.
The Eagles brass has done an excellent job of adding talent to a positon of dire need in the draft, and after watching the tape on Wiltz, they might have hit a bit more than we all thought. As an UDFA, it is an uphill battle to make a roster, but Wiltz is a player to keep an eye on, as he possesses the pure talent to make the 53 man roster and be a real contributor in the future. Only time will tell, but his is a story worth watching.
Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports