Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, it was no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles had legitimate concerns to address on the back end of their underrated defense. The combination of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod at Safety gave the Birds a sense of secondary security last season, but the same could not be said of the players manning the outside.
Despite rookie CB Jalen Mills inspiring a light of hope with strong moments in 2016, it was almost certain that the birds’ front office would add talent at the position. Enter Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas, the Eagles, 2nd and 3rd round picks and heirs to the vacant spots. The additions of both Jones and Douglas, should prove to be huge moving forward, but as all football fans know, you can never have too many good players.
After the draft ended, some felt underwhelmed that the Eagles only selected two players to help the back end (S Nate Gerry, was drafted to play LB), but as we all know, Howie Roseman, is never satisfied, so he kept looking for playmakers. As the UDFA period kicked off, there were still a few names on the board with draftable grade. This is where the defense might have struck gold.
The find of CB Jomal Wiltz, out of Iowa State University, may prove to be a great find for the team, as he possesses the skill set, speed, and football knowledge to be a difference maker. We spoke with Wiltz to ask him about the draft process, how he felt about not being drafted, and what went behind the decision to chose Philadelphia.
“Going into the whole draft process, I did what I do with everything, I put it in gods hands.” Wiltz told us. “I only tried to control and worry about the things I had any say in. I knew going into it, I had about a 50/50 chance of being drafted, some scouts and some folks said they thought I should be, and some said they weren’t sure. All I know is I wanted a chance to compete, and that’s what I have.
Up until now, the draft, and all of this, I just worked my butt off, kept working on my speed..that is my strength, my speed. So I kept working on things I need work on, and the things I do great, I keep working to make better. I think that is the only way to be successful, to make it out here or do anything for a long time.
With 60 tackles in 24 career games as a Cyclone, Wiltz showed just how dangerous he can be..and his speed was a large part of that. Add to that 17 pass deflections and 271 kick return yards..and what you see is a player who can help the Eagles in more than one facet of the game. But with such a strong cornerback class, there is always a chance that such a strong talent could slip through the cracks. Something that worked out well for the Philadelphia Eagles.
When I wasn’t drafted, I was a little disappointed, but I didn’t waste my time soaking about it..I went right back to work. I trust my team, I trust in God, I trust my talents, and when me and my agent (Brandon Smart), spoke, he felt I had a great chance to make a team.. to get signed..and I trust his opinion, so I continue to work on my craft.
As far as why I chose Philadelphia, well I looked at their roster, and saw that they play with guys my height (5’10), but they also love aggressive players, guys who are willing to hit, willing to make a play and that fits me perfectly. I had other chances for other teams, during the pre-draft process there were a few teams interested in me, but when it was all said and done, I felt like this is the best spot for me. I wanted to go somewhere I could really compete, and be who I am as a player, I think the coaches like my style of play, so it was really a no-brainer.”
He continued on, talking about the Philadelphia fans.
“I hear about how tough the city is, the fans can be crazy on players, and the media can be a bit tough as well. But honestly that fits me perfectly, I feel like I fit that style, I want my fans I play for, be loud and tough, and let us know when we aren’t playing up to par. I love it, I think when we are playing well, and in the playoffs, or whatever, the fans will be amazing then as well. The one thing that stands out about the fans, is they are loyal, they might mess with you but no one else can, and it was a part of what sold me to come here.”
The addition of Wiltz could prove to be one of the biggest steals of this years draft. With his great combination of football knowledge, and blue-chip talent, he could be a true fixture for years to come. He adds real value in his versatile play, being able to line up inside, outside, and at both safety spots. Most importantly, he isn’t afraid to get physical in the run, and blitz package.
Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas hit when they drafted Rasul and Sidney, but what will go under the radar, until it just cant anymore, will be the signing of an UDFA, with the talent of a potential starter in the NFL.
What are the Eagles getting? what can the fans expect?
“I am a hard worker, they are getting the same type of guy, the city is. Hardworking, loyal, tough and passionate, and a guy who will never skip on a chance to get better. I understand what people expect out of an undrafted guy, but I don’t pay that any attention, all I need is a chance, I got this one ,now its time to shut up and show.”
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports