Zech McPhearson may have a new career trajectory if OTA’s are anything to go by

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Zech McPhearson (27) looks on during the preseason game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 12, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Zech McPhearson, one of the more slept on players in the Eagles’ secondary, could well break out this Summer due to a position change.

Having quality starters at every position is difficult to accomplish in the salary cap era of the NFL. The Philadelphia Eagles have somehow found a way to not only do that but bolster key positions with starting-quality backups.

Much has been made about the team’s ability to replenish their offensive line and quarterback depth but it’s the cornerback position that has seen the largest infusion of talented youngsters behind All-Pro starters.

And it’s allowed one of their home-grown players to go back to his natural position to fully develop.

According to Bo Wulf of The Athletic, Zech McPhearson appears to be working out of the slot in OTA’s, which is a significant move given the current structure of the cornerback position.

The most significant is the move of Zech McPhearson inside as a nickel corner, where he worked during seven-on-seven drills with the first- and second-team defense. McPhearson has mostly played on the outside during his first two seasons in the league, while remaining on the sideline because of the good health of the starting cornerbacks above him.

Bo Wulf, The Athletic (per Glenn Erby of Eagles Wire)

Zech McPhearson has flown under the radar

When Zech McPhearson was drafted by the team in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, many pundits saw the Texas Tech product as a true slot corner who had experience playing on the outside. Since he was drafted though, the 5’11 corner has worked primarily on the outside behind Darius Slay and James Bradberry.

That has since changed with the Eagles bringing in other corners like Greedy Williams, Josh Jobe, and recent fourth-round pick Kelee Ringo. Both Ringo and Williams are listed at over 6’0″ and have the ability to play on the outside with their freakish athleticism. Jobe and fellow undrafted free agents like Mario Goodrich and Eli Ricks are also players that are better fitted for the outside due to their size and speed.

With the amount of depth, both unproven and otherwise also allows the Eagles to provide depth at a position where they had very little over the last couple of seasons.

Back to a position of comfort

Current starting slot corner Avonte Maddox has played in just 16 games once throughout his entire career and has health with a bevy of injuries that kept him out of eight games last season. In his place, the Eagles had to force unproven and ultimately disappointing backups like Josiah Scott in the fold and it led to the team’s downfall during the later part of the season.

Having a player like Zech McPhearson, who had four interceptions from the slot in college, should allow the Eagles to be less worried should a starter go down at one of the cornerback positions.

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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – APRIL 21: Penn State CB Zech McPhearson (14) knocks down a pass to WR Brandon Polk (10) during the Spring Football Game on April 21, 2018 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

It’s never good to have an All-Pro player go down with an injury. The Eagles have done a good job at managing when that happens thanks to their supreme depth at important positions.

The latest position to get that infusion though has allows the team to utilize their draft picks to how they were intended instead. It’ll ultimately be up to McPhearson now to show that he belongs as a key cog in the Eagles defense.

It’s also worth noting that Avonte Maddox only has two years left on his contract and the Eagles may well plan on grooming McPhearson as a potential heir to his throne. Maddox has been one of the better slot CB’s in the NFL during his time in Philadelphia, and having competition is never a bad thing.

Whatever the future holds for both corners, the Eagles have put themselves ina good spot where Zech McPhearson can learn from Avonte Maddox and begin honing his skills as a nickel corner while preparing for the moment his name is called should an injury occur.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire