“With the 127th overall pick, the Philadelphia Eagles select:”
A man who grew up in Richmond, Virginia. Crime, violence, poverty, and serious adversity, with a father in and out of prison for the first 8 years of his life, K’Von never had it easy. But he was a man who wanted out. Who wanted to make something of himself, who strived for greatness. A man who was athletically gifted, a track star, and football standout since highschool…and someone who initially committed to Cincinnati, but released a “Hudl” highlight reel and subsequently got offers from e.g. Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, and Clemson.
A man who was used all over the field at one of the best teams in college football and is the highest rated safety in coverage since 2017 by PFF. A physical monster who missed the least amount of tackles of all safeties in the NFL draft, but also improved his ball skills, doubling his combined 2016-2018 PBUs and INTs in 2019 only.
A man who by many (including myself) was projected to be a 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick at the most, but saw himself free-falling into day 3 of the draft.
Until defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz texted K’Von in all-caps
Wallace was an Eagle. Understandably, it was one of the happiest moments for him, seeing his name linked to the Philadelphia Eagles, seeing his future outside of Virginia.
Enamoured with the legacy of Eagles safeties
The last physical safety who the Eagles drafted from Clemson is quite familiar. Drafted in the 2nd round of 1996 draft.
Wallace is very familiar with him, having shared room with Weapon X’s son during his first 2 years of college. The natural connection doesn’t scare Wallace away. In fact, he embraces it. Where he is from, what he has been through, he knows it takes hard work and dedication to reach the top – and earn the respect of Eagles fans:
It’s all about being a dog. They go by that dog mentality, and they go out there and just work. Everything has gotta be earned. Nothing is given in Philly… Playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, man, it’s a blessing. Coming from this type of family I have, this type of background I have, the Eagles seems like a perfect fit.K’Von Wallac to Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports
In fact, Wallace took the wolverine “weapon X” figure to heart, and came up with his own nickname “The Gulo”, Russian for wolverine.
K’Von Wallace fits what the Eagles need on the field as well
During the 2020 offseason, the Eagles let go of their leader and do-it-all safety/CB/LB in Malcolm Jenkins. Turning 33 during the 2020 season, they decided it was time to move on, get younger and sign both Will Parks and Jalen Mills.
However, the skillset that K’Von displayed to the highest level of all safeties and CB’s in college football in the past few seasons is exactly what Eagles have been doing with Malcolm Jenkins: Covering the slot, getting physical in press coverage man-man, triggering on short passes, throwing around WR blockers, and being a safe, hard-hitting tackler:
The versatility of both players is on full display. Taking a look at their snap distribution from Wallace’s 2019 season, compared to Jenkins’ 2018 season, we see that they similarly play 1) all over the field 2) primarily do their work in underneath alignments in the slot and the box.
|FS||8.8 %||12.6 %|
|Box||29.1 %||43.7 %|
|Slot CB||55.5 %||30.8 %|
|Outside CB||1.0 %||2.6 %|
|DL/Edge||5.6 %||10.4 %|
|Underneath box/slot||90.2 %||85 %|
|Other||9.8 %||15 %|
Needless to say, K’Von does his best work in the slot. In fact, he dominated in the slot in college. Specifically, he played some of his best games against the best competition. He did extremely well man-man against the “slot WR of the draft” in Justin Jefferson:
Against Alabama, he once again was best in the slot, showing some of the concerns that teams may have had in terms of drafting him in 2nd round, miscalculating the catch point a few times from deep safety in this game:
The physicality was on full display against Ohio State, both in the run game, re-routing WRs in coverage, and as a blitzer. He did a solid job recovering in man-man situations in the goalline as well:
Despite being a fan favorite, work lies ahead
K’Von Wallace knows what it’s like to work for your goals. He wants to be “a dog”. He wants to live up to the legacy of the last safety drafted out of Clemson. He will do whatever it takes to be the guy who went from Richmond, Virginia, to a great NFL player in a city that appreciates hard workers more than anyone.
To do that, he will need to learn and compete with another guy who never took anything for granted in Will Parks, a North Philly native, who, just like Wallace, is thrilled to be playing in front of Eagles nation. Add Eagles veteran Jalen Mills, who is switching position to safety after struggling for years at CB, and we now have a great battle to look forward to in the attempt to replace Malcolm Jenkins.
And maybe, hopefully, the replacement in the near future will be “The Gulo”, carrying the legacy on from weapon X.
Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports