Eagles have answered questions at cornerback but opened up even more

What about me!?

At the start of the offseason, the Eagles signed 26-year-old corner with 27 career starts under his belt on a very team-friendly contract and nobody batted an eye. That man is Trevor Williams.

The former Chargers CB ended the 2018 season on IR due to a knee sprain suffered in week 10, and was back on the injured list in week 2 of 2019 after suffering a quad strain. Not great.

But for those worrying about ‘regressive play’, our man Morgan Burkett cooked up a lovely three-course meal to tuck into.

First off, he played across from Casey Hayward — one of the most formidable corners in the league. That means, by default, opponents would target Williams’ side of the field. He responded by allowing 38 receptions on only 52 targets on 201 routes defended. He also allowed only 3 touchdowns and had a burn rate of 0.0%. Yup, that’s right, in 201 routes defended, he was not burned once. On the year, he allowed an average target separation of only 0.68 yards. These numbers mean a lot more with the proper context. So, let’s put them beside Ronald Darby’s totals from last season, and his best statistical coverage season: 2018.

Trevor Williams (2018)Ronald Darby (2019)Ronald Darby (2018)
Passer Rating122.7126.488.1
Burn Rate0.0%4.0%1.2%
Catch Rate73.1%69.3%58.8%
Target Separation0.680.830.82
TDs Allowed374

Seemingly an immediate upgrade from 2019 Ronald Darby, Williams’ play almost rivals that of 2018 Darby. He isn’t as disruptive at the point of catch, but his coverage was as sticky as ever.

In his last fully healthy season, 2017, Williams finished the year ranked 10th at his position according to Pro Football Focus. He was the best corner in all of football on throws 2.6+ seconds after the snap — by a wide margin. He allowed a passer rating of 10.4 on those throws, Yes you read that correctly. For context, an incomplete pass would register a 39.6 rating.

Did someone say, uh, CB2?

Maybe if Sidney Jones does move on, this is the path the Eagles will take. Don’t write off Williams just yet. If he can stay healthy, he’ll factor into their plans.

What if Schwartz just throws the Kitchen sink?

Bigger picture thinking here:

The Eagles lose Malcolm Jenkins, who has been a remote-controlled missile in this defense under Jim Schwartz. It can’t be a coincidence that every cornerback is suddenly short, stout and carries a label of ‘versatile’. Even Rodney McLeod played in the box last year.

It’s been so long since the Eagles had a true lockdown corner who could just shadow an X-receiver that maybe Schwartz simply wants enough variety to allow him that luxury. Stocking up on DB’s who can play inside, outside, over the top (Maddox, Parks, Mills) and adding in firm tacklers like LeBlanc and Parks, allows Schwartz to essentially play a game of matchup-chess.

If Slay has to work the nickel in order to keep someone like Sterling Shepard quiet, then Maddox and Jones can lock down the outside that would, in theory, have easier matchups. If Slay is on Cooper but Zeke is on the field, Will Parks can play inside the Box while Mills and McLeod sit over the top.

Yes, there’s a chance that the Eagles move on from a few of these corners, but there is enough talent and versatility to maybe, just maybe, finally fit into a scheme that has done nothing but exploit them up to this point. Maybe Slay is the missing piece.

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

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