As football fans cross one more football-less week off the calendar, the looming late April NFL draft marks the most action we will have had since the Patriots thrashed the Rams in Superbowl LIII. This series will be an intro for those looking to get a grasp of some of the better options that will be available for the Birds during the selection process. As always, draft projections are never perfect, and even the most thorough analyses can let future Pro-Bowlers slip through the cracks. So, if you feel that I’ve missed someone, gotten it wrong, or would just like me to do a write-up of your favorite under-the-radar prospect, let me know in the comments below!
Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, Philadelphia holds seven selections. Following free agency and the assignment of compensatory picks, their haul is as follows:
|First Round||Pick 25 (25)|
|Second Round||Pick 21 (53) via Baltimore|
|Pick 25 (57)|
|Fourth Round||Pick 25 (121)|
|Pick 42 (138) Compensatory||Pick 42 (138) Compensatory|
|Fifth Round||Pick 25 (163)|
|Sixth Round||Pick 25 (197)|
The analysis surrounding the Eagles’ cornerback group is one of two minds. The secondary, full of bumps, bruises, and battle wounds, undoubtedly held the Philadelphia defense back in 2018. At times, even before the injuries took their toll, the play was downright awful. However, the youth movement which took charge in the second half of the season trickling into the playoffs showed more than enough promise to leave hopefuls with a sense of comfort moving forward. So the question is, does the group need more time or more playmakers?
Draft pundits have resoundingly argued for the latter, repeatedly throwing a bevy of cornerbacks down the throats of fans in mock draft after mock draft. Those more in tune with the team have — in my opinion correctly — argued the opposite: the coaching staff and front office are happy to move forward relying on the talent they have in house. This is a list which includes two starters coming off of injury in Jalen Mills and the newly re-signed Ronald Darby. The current satisfaction with the group does not omit the possibility of selecting a corner (or safety) in the draft. Instead, it likely means cornerback specifically will not be a primary target for the Eagles in the early rounds. The prospects presented here offer solutions for both sides of the argument.
Continued on the pages below.
Byron Murphy – Washington
Walter Football Rank: 3
CBS Rank: 2
DraftTek Rank: 2
Draft Wire Rank: 1
The Draft Network Rank: 1
Range: First Round
Size: 6’0″, 175 lbs
Breakdown: Murphy is a cover corner with excellent fluidity, quickness and speed. Very polished for a two-year starter, he has the ability to play man or zone but wasn’t required to press very often in college.
Pros: Very instinctual corner. Has a great feel for what the offense is trying to accomplish. Quick, balanced feet with fluid hips. Good burst and speed, Active in run support and hits like a bigger player.
Cons: Lacking the length to consistently disrupt passes. Generally played off and frame does not suggest he would be imposing at the line of scrimmage. Will lose some physical matchups due to size.
How he fits: In a relatively weak class of corners, Murphy may be the best of the bunch in a few years time. There’s a reason he has popped up beside the Eagles’ name on multiple mock drafts. Schwartz will love his sticky coverage and willingness to come up and tackle. Nevertheless, his shortcomings in press-man could be a big problem unless the team is willing to move him inside to cover the slot. That’s not a terrible idea, but will Howie want to spend a first round pick on a nickel corner? My guess is no.
DeAndre Baker – Georgia
Walter Football Rank: 1
CBS Rank: 3
DraftTek Rank: 4
Draft Wire Rank: 3
The Draft Network Rank: 4
Range: First Round
Size: 5’11”, 180 lbs
Breakdown: Baker isn’t the most athletic corner in the draft but has fantastic technique and doesn’t back away from a challenge. He is best in press where he can use his physicality to disrupt receivers.
Pros: Physical and competitive on every play. Active hands, both in press and at the catch point. Very disruptive with the ball in the air. Long arms. Tries to get his hands on every pass. Great press technique, does not over commit. Does well to limit downfield release. Intelligent corner, which helps him mask some athletic limitations.
Cons: Long speed is average. Change of direction is limited by hip fluidity. Shows up in off-man coverage on quicker receivers. Can get grabby. Zone coverage is inconsistent. Much better close to the line than deep thirds. Can hold his own in run support, but not a standout. Some questions concerning his attitude.
How he fits: Schematically he fits like a glove. He’s strong, physical and plays with an edge. Being the top corner in college football last season, he may be outside of the Eagles’ price range. Although he needs to be in the right scheme to succeed, he’s still at the top of many scouts’ cornerback boards. There aren’t a whole whack of teams in need of first-round corners, the average class will make Baker’s ability a premium. Personally, I don’t love the idea of taking a corner at 25, but if Howie disagrees, expect his target to be the Georgia playmaker.