Eagles Training Camp Positional Preview: Cornerback

NFL: SEP 27 Bengals at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles Cornerback Darius Slay (24) interacts with the Bengals bench after a play in the second half during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Michael Jacquet

Credit to Liam Jenkins for starting the ball rolling on the Michael Jacquet hype train. I think for many, he is slowly becoming the dark horse for the outside corner position. He had a fantastic game against the Cardinals and then a dreadful one against the Cowboys. Such are the ebbs and flows of being young in the NFL.

The glaring issue I saw with the Dallas tape was Jacquet’s eye discipline. Staring into the backfield, not locating the football, and biting on double moves were a calling card for Eagles’ corners under Jim Schwartz. It was clearly not made a priority to fix. Both another year in the NFL and a change to a secondary friendly scheme and coaching staff should immediately help Jacquet.

Speaking of the new defense, the former Rajun’ Cajun fits the ticket. His length and ball skills will lend themselves seamlessly to a more zone-oriented scheme. There aren’t really any other candidates on the roster with his stature. His fate is essentially in his own hands. If he can show some growth in the offseason, he could be in the running for the CB2 position all on his own. Selfishly, I hope he is the man for the job so that Avonte can bump into the slot and Zech can have another year to develop before being thrown into the deep end.

When we had him on the Flippin’ the Birds podcast, Shaun Bradley mentioned the UDFA as someone to keep our eyes on. He may have just been hyping his teammate up, but where there’s smoke there’s fire, and the hype behind Jacquet is no exception.

Josiah Scott

Somewhat of a forgotten name on this list, I will not be one of those that counts this young man out. A terrific cover corner at Michigan State, Scott’s size and health are really the only things holding this 22 year old (yes you read that right) back. That being said, at 5’9″, 185lbs his ability is somewhat matchup dependent. Against larger slot receivers, he tends to struggle and fairs better in situations where he can play off and use his quick twitch to break on the football.

Nevertheless, his coverage skills make him a great first-off-the-bench candidate for dime looks and obvious passing situations. There is a reason that, despite his size, he was a fourth round pick for the Jaguars two years ago. His NFL comp during the draft process was Avonte Maddox, and there are a lot of similarities. I’d give the edge on physicality to Avonte, but Scott’s coverage skills may have a higher ceiling.

Worst case scenario, Scott is a p/roject player that — when healthy — has a fantastic upside as a slot corner. At best, he is an incredible young depth piece for a team that is looking to start a new chapter. The Eagles parted ways with a sixth round pick to get him to Philadelphia, I imagine they will give him every opportunity to squeeze onto the 53 man roster.

Plus, he’s a lifelong Eagles fan.

Kevon Seymour

Another one of Liam’s favorites, I’m not sure that Seymour is anything more than a special teamer for the Eagles. That being said, he is a proven playmaker on special teams in both college and the NFL (52 tackles over the last 3 years). As the Eagles are a team that desperately wants to improve their special teams, that holds more weight this year than most.

The Eagles have a few of these young special teamers that could develop into serviceable depth players. I think the ability to grasp the playbook and all Gannon’s concepts will be paramount in making the team. With all the injuries the Eagles dealt with over the last few years, they will want to be confident that their insurance policy players can execute. Also, he is one of the few young corners on the roster that is 6’0″, although I wouldn’t really call him a long corner. Still, he is better physically equipped to man the outside than his smaller teammates.

He was repeatedly protected on the practice squad last season, which should indicate that this is player the Eagles did not want poached.

Craig James

Another young corner that was thrown into the fire, Craig James (see Michael Jacquet) — known for that play against the Packers — has been a very solid special teamer for the Eagles. However, dealing with injuries last season, it remains to be seen if that will be enough to keep him on the roster for 2021. There are too many other potential special teamers on this roster for that to guarantee him a spot.

Gannon will love James’ physicality, and he truly is a serviceable depth corner. Although he is only 25, the Eagles have a plethora of young corners (see above) that may edge James out for a special teams slot. Still, he is a very solid candidate for the practice squad, unless his special teams value vaults him over some of the other candidates on this list.

Lavert Hill

A young player with tantalizing upside, there is a lot to like about Lavert Hill. A ballhawk with a habit of turning the ball over and silky coverage skill to boot, Hill was a very solid player at Michigan. There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful for the 22 year old’s upside.

To temper expectations, he came into the league as a UDFA and has yet to crack a final roster. He is, as it stands a practice squad player. However, he is a damn good one at that. He ran a 4.41 coming out of high school and registered 6 interceptions and 28 pds in final 3 years in college.

He plays with an edge to his game, which is one of my favorite attributes of a corner. I would love to keep him in Philly on the practice squad.

Shakial Taylor

Brought over from the Colts, Taylor comes to Philly with the advantage of familiarity. Gannon clearly saw something in the young corner that prompted the front office to offer him a shot. After taking last season off due to the pandemic, there’s no telling what rust he will have to shake off after appearing in five games as a rookie.

He’s got the length of an outside corner and had a solid game against the Jaguars in his rookie season. I don’t think he makes the roster, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he is a name that sticks around Philly for a few years to come. Teams always seem to find practice players who they trust in a pinch to activate for game day. As a young corner with length and scheme familiarity, Taylor would be a solid practice squad addition.

Final Thoughts

The top three names on this list should be locks to make the roster. I would go as far to say that Michael Jacquet could be added to that list with a strong camp. Behind that — it’s anyone’s guess. It’s likely the Eagles take five or six corners. My favorite candidates for those last two spots are Josiah Scott and Kevon Seymour, in that order. My prediction for the season is Avonte on the outside with Zech in the slot, but my hope is that Jacquet can prove he has what it takes to man the outside opposite Slay and Avonte bumps inside.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire