“I work hard. That’s all everyone needs to know. When it comes to football, I don’t care what anyone says or feels – at the end of the day, I work harder than anyone you ever know. I pride myself on that”Will Parks to PhillySportsNetwork
Will Parks is no stranger to the “Eagles way”. Before going to Arizona college, getting drafted in the 6th round, and playing four years with the Denver Broncos, Parks went to high school in Germantown, North Philadelphia.
The 25-year-old do-it-all wanted to come back. In fact, he reportedly turned down more money from teams like Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions just to play in front of his home town.
A crowd that he knows well. A passionate crowd. A demanding crowd:
“I love the way the Eagles fans interract. It means they care. I’m cool with that. Eagles fans are the ones. I’m from here, I know this. It’s going to be a joy playing in front of them – good or bad. I love it – it makes me go harder”Will Parks to PSN on the Eagles crowd
Even when Parks played in Denver, he was still active in the Philadelphia community. For the 2019 “my cause my cleats” initiative, he was supportive of the Philadelphia Ceasefire, which is a program dedicated to raise awareness about gun violence in the community.
An emphasis on versatility
During the four years with Denver, Parks was thrown all over the field. Quite literally. Here’s the distribution of snaps per position:
Rarely do we see a player who in his first four years, has had that many roles to fill. He did everything; playing a physical spot like inside LB in the box, playing box safety (meaning he lines up more outside, usually when the offense had extra OLs or TEs), in slot coverage with plenty of space for the WR, or as the deep responsibility at free safety.
The man has had almost 100 snaps lining up at DL, dammit!
Although he primarily played slot CB to finish the 2019 season, he changed positions on a game by game basis.
In the 2019 season, he played 34 snaps at FS in week 2, followed by 34 snaps as box player and 42 snaps at FS in week 4, and finally 36 snaps at slot CB in week 6. To be able to do this, it takes:
- Tremendous understanding of the playbook and positional responsibilities.
- A snap change in mentality from e.g. a “sit back in deep zone” mindset to a more physical “punch-offensive-linemen-in-the-mouth”.
- Strong, fast, and twitchy body type to run with deep routes, keep track with exotic routes from the slot, and box against the run.
“Changing positions is easy when it’s important to you. I’m going to play what the team needs. To me, it comes down to being reliable when called upon – put the hard downs on me, i’m here for it. I gotta win. That’s my motto. Anything for the team.”Will Parks to PSN on what position he expects to play with Eagles
“Watch the film” – it never lies
2018 was by far the best year for Parks. He had 224 snaps in the box, 108 snaps at CB, and around 200 snaps at FS. He gave up a 61 % completion rate on 26 targets, 0 TDs, and an INT.
But instead of crunching stats, let’s go through the tape. Something Parks has been actively trying to tell people:
What stands out the most is that he changes positions a lot during a game, and doesn’t look lost at any time. In the slot against Texans, he had some good reps against Kenny Stills, where he displayed good hip turns and quick feet.
Against the Chargers in 2018, he played mostly in the box, lining up as the WILL. For a guy of his size, he sure doesn’t mind taking on big offensive lineman and getting into the grit between the tackles. He understands filling up gaps with physicality.
This is something Jenkins was asked to do a lot in 2019.
Against Jacksonville last year, he repeatedly showed good run fits. Further, he had good coverage on D.J. Chark on a double move, stayed tight with Marqise Lee on a go route, and delivered a crushing blow to a TE crossing the endzone.
Against the Browns in 2018, he further displayed good versatility as a FS, positioning himself well and playing the ball nicely on a deep pass attempt. In a H/C drop in cover 3, he showcased smart eyes, reading the 3-receiver side well, identifying the crossing WR over the middle.
Closing thoughts: Will Parks came to play
Whether Will Parks came to play LB, FS, SS, slot CB, or even outside CB is still to be decided. One thing is for sure: He has the experience of all positions. He is smart, physical, and a natural competitor.
Welcome back to Philly, Will!
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports