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With less than 24 hours before the start of free agency, DB Watch goes obscure and highlights one of the lesser known cornerbacks on the market.
Free Agency Eve is upon us and by this time tomorrow there will likely to be ton of signings made by teams around the league. While the Eagles are likely to target plenty of the top options on the market when it comes to defensive backs, there is a chance they will not end up with any of them. That's why looking into the depths of free agency is important to not lose hope when the team isn't able to sign the top guys like Sean Smith and Derek Cox. One of the more overlooked cornerbacks on the market is St. Louis Rams four-year veteran, Bradley Fletcher.
Fletcher was drafted in the third round by the Rams out of the University of Iowa in 2009. He has been part of two different regimes with Steve Spagnuolo and Jeff Fisher both coaching the young CB (both are former secondary coaches). Fletcher has starting experience, as he has started 26 of 43, and was a full-time starter from 2010 to 2011, until he was injured during the fourth game of that season. When the Fisher regime took over, he was relegated to the slot and used as a spot starter. Here is a look at Fletcher's career stats:
Like most defensive backs, Fletcher's statistics don't tell the whole story. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the second best cornerback in their signature stat category known as Yards Per Coverage Snap. Prior to being benched by St. Louis for a litany of third down PI penalties versus the Patriots, Fletcher was allowing a catch rate of only 47% and holding opposing quarterbacks to a rating 55.8. So with Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins manning the outside spots in the secondary, Fletcher is likely done with the Rams and is looking for a fresh start.
PFF ranks Fletcher as its number nine free agent cornerback. The 6'0," 200-pound corner is not likely to command a ton of money and is likely looking to obtain a "prove it" deal with a young team looking for a starter. While Fletcher has a habit for pass interference, he still has plenty of upside. When given the opportunity to play, he has proven to have ball skills (career high 4 interceptions in 2010 came when he was a full-time starter) and he has the size to take on bigger wide receivers. He obviously will not be given the starting gig, but could be a good candidate to compete for the job. He's still young at 26 and has the type of size Chip Kelly and Billy Davis would likely be comfortable with in the Eagles defensive backfield.
The question for you is, are you cool with grabbing a big name and then signing a guy like Fletcher to compete for the number two job? Would you be comfortable signing just Fletcher and depending on the draft to bring competition and talent to the cornerback spot?