Fourth in a series looking at how the guys the Eagles drafted affect the depth chart at each position.
Part 1: Cornerback
Part 2: Wide Receiver
Part 3: Running Back
- Quintin Mikell -- In such a different position from last year at this time, when many, myself included, were unsure that Mikell could step into the starting lineup after being mostly used on special teams for the last number of seasons. Now he steps into camp not as a possible weak link, but as a veteran leader and Pro Bowl-caliber performer. Not to mention, someone satisfied with his position and salary. I would think Mikell is also a strong candidate for a contract extension. Maybe they'll wait to see if he can duplicate his performance from last year and have concerns because he's already 28, but he has relatively little wear on his tires and therefore should be able to play at a high level after his contract is up in 2010.
Quintin Demps -- Quintin 2.0 is this high not so much for past performance, but because he is expected to step right into the starting safety role immediately. While it is still possible that one of the other more experienced players could overtake him, at this point its Demps's job to lose. Demps actually played a good deal least year as a third safety, and he played fairly well. As somewhat of a tweener corner-safety, he has the cover skills and speed to be out there on all downs, something our beloved Dawk wasn't able to contribute much last year. While some point to his play in the NFC Championship game, especially the Fitzgerald touchdown, I challenge anyone to really show me that was Demps's fault. He was the one guy who saw the fake and stayed with Fitz, then ran stride for stride with him, only to stumble as the receiver displayed his unique skill of adjusting with the ball in the air. Who could have stopped that?
- Sean Jones -- Truth is, everyone from this spot down could be cut. If Jones gets outplayed by one of the younger players, or has trouble adjusting to a new 4-3 system, he could be out looking for work again. But he clearly has an inside track on the backup safety job, because of his experience. He was a solid, if unspectacular, player for Cleveland with 14 interceptions over the last 3 years. And he will likely serve as quality injury/Demps insurance this season.
- Victor "Macho" Harris -- I know, I already listed Harris as a cornerback. But clearly Andy sees him as something a little bit more versatile. Unless Sheldon Brown gets traded, there are already a pretty set five CBs (barring injuries and assuming you have any hope for the Iguana) so Harris might have to sneak on at this position. Ultimately he's probably more talented than the rest of the guys below him, even if he's not a polished safety yet.
- Rashad Baker -- Baker was signed as futher safety insurance/competition in the offseason. And he's an interesting find. He's been in the league since 2004, but has bounced around and has only started four games. However, last year with the Raiders, Baker played only the second half of the season, but recorded 3 interceptions -- including the one against Tampa Bay that helped send the Eagles to the playoffs (yeah we owe him). He certainly seems capable of playing on special teams and in spot duty, but that's probably his upper limit.
Byron Parker -- Parker has captivated the imaginations of some Eagles faithful who saw him play in the CFL. While he had an impressive 18 interceptions, six returned for touchdowns, over the last three seasons, Parker is a project who played corner in a zone system in Toronto and has already been in camps with Jacksonville and the Cowboys in previous years without garnering a roster spot. We'll see if he can put it together here, but I won't be holding my breath.
- Reshard Langford -- If it comes down to equal performance from these last three, the undrafted rookie with more upside (read: younger) will likely beat out the others. He's a "prototypical strong safety," four-year starter at Vanderbilt, with good potential special teams play -- sounds kind of like a Quintin Mikell replacement, which isn't needed right now. While he could, possibly, beat out Jones to backup Mikell, its more likely that he gets cut and/or goes to the practice squad.
What do you think?