It’s been a long time since Eagles fans have truly had reason to be excited about the cornerback decision. The Jim Schwartz era was shrouded by double moves, schematic misfits, and wasted draft potential. The years before that were hardly much kinder, leaving fans vying for some new players to hang their hats on. That all changed in 2022, and the future looks even brighter in 2023.
How the Eagles rebuilt their secondary
After a dominant first season as a tandem, James Bradberry and Darius Slay both surprisingly re-signed with Philadelphia. It was assumed that the Eagles would bring one back while allowing the other to test free-agency waters. This would’ve facilitated the spending of a first-round draft pick on a CB1 of the future. Instead, both All-Pro corners returned, and the Eagles doubled down on the development of young players.
Former Georgia Bulldog, Kelee Ringo, was selected with the 104th overall pick and joined a secondary that had very much been infused with youth. Mario Goodrich and Josh Jobe were to marquee UDFA signings in 2022 and Greedy Williams joined the unit this past offseason. In fact, outside of Bradberry, Maddox, and Slay, all 9 other cornerbacks are age 25 or under.
Roseman has solidified the CB position by targeting UDFA’s who were previously graded very highly by draft analysts. Mario Goodrich, Josh Jobe, Eli Ricks, and Mekhi Garner not only give the Eagles developmental depth, but players who come from high-character schools and possess strong athletic traits that can be molded into a sustainable NFL skillset.
A summer of difficult decisions
There are 3 starting cornerback spots in this defense. There are 12 corners on the roster.
The good news is that this means the Eagles now have a plethora of young talent to develop. The bad news is that they can’t keep everyone, and while stashing players on the practice squad is a quick fix, there’s nothing stopping another team from snooping around.
The opening preseason game highlighted just how impactful this issue could be. Eli Ricks picked off a pass in his first taste of NFL action, taking it to the house for 6. Realistically, Ricks is on the fringe of the roster, and with players like Goodrich, Jobe, and Garner all having fairly strong summers themselves, there just isn’t enough room for everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great problem to have. I’d much rather have a worry of there being too many Chefs in the Kitchen than there not being enough for the restaurant to open. But it’s going to lead to some tricky decisions Nick Sirianni, Sean Desai, and of course, Howie Roseman.
The Eagles have done a masterful job of building out a previously depleted cornerback corps.
The next job is sustaining it.
AP Photo/Ron Schwane