We all know the Eagles have major defensive back issues. I'm going to try and outline some of the cornerbacks and safeties that I could see the Eagles taking a good look at in free agency. I will not speculate whether I think they will resign with their current teams; I will treat them all as if they will be available. This is not a list of the best defensive backs in this offseason's free agency, this is a list of defensive backs that would make the most sense for the Eagles.
- Davis stands at 5'11 and his a physical specimen. He runs a 4.4 40 and is very strong for the cornerback position. The former #25 pick of the 2009 NFL Draft was lauded for his impressive run defense for the position. In 2012, he was traded from the Dolphins to the Colts for a second-round pick. He is the younger brother of Vernon Davis, of the SF 49ers. Because of Davis' size and strength, I can see the Eagles showing interest, especially because of the presence of stronger receivers like Dez Bryant in the division. Also note that Vontae has the second highest grade for free agent cornerbacks on profootballfocus.com.
Drayton Florence (33 yo, Panthers)
- Florence, as you can see, is a veteran. I don't think the Eagles will show too much interest in him, however, he is a very long, experienced cornerback. Florence stands at 6' tall and also fits the kind of corner the Eagles are constantly searching for. He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the SD Chargers. He has also played for the Jaguars, Bills, Broncos, and Lions. He was initially drafted as a nickel corner who could fill in at safety but worked his way into become a legitimate starting corner across from Quentin Jammer during his time with the Chargers. Over the years he has been passed around from team to team never sticking for long. Prior to this season where he was graded well on profootballfocus.com (7th highest rating for free agent cornerbacks), he played 8 games for the Detroit Lions. Before the Lions, Florence had a very solid 3 seasons for the Buffalo Bills where he shined under Coach Chan Gailey.
Rashean Mathis (34 yo, Lions)
- Mathis is a big name. He was drafted by the Jaguars in the second round of the 2002 draft. He played for the Jaguars every year until this past season where he played for the Lions. He owns the Jaguars franchise records for: most career interceptions, most career interception return yards, most career defensive touchdowns, most career passes defended. What intrigues me about Mathis is that he has good size and experience, Mathis stands at 6'1 195 lbs. He is very long and this is the type of build that Bill Davis wants for his cornerbacks. Mathis was the best cornerback for the Lions this season but states he is most proud of his role as a mentor. I really, really hope we can bring Mathis in. He is a great leader and teammate,who can still play and help this team immediately. Mathis received the 10th highest grade for 2014 free agent cornerbacks on profootballfocus.com.
Walter Thurmond (27 yo, Seahawks)
- Thurmond is most known for his four game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. However, he should also be known for his skills on the field. Thurmond saw most of his time this year as a nickel corner for the Seahawks but did start two games for the injured Brandon Browner. Richard Sherman has praised Thurmond for his aggression and energy and I would like to see Thurmond leave his role as a Nickel Corner/Backup for the Seahawks and try and take the next step on our Bird squad. Thurmond stands at 5'11 190 pounds and was drafted by Seattle in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. He is an Oregon Duck. Lastly, Thurmond was the 12th rated free agent cornerback on profootballfocus.com
T.J. Ward (27 yo, Browns)
- Another Oregon Duck. Ward is the highest rated free agent safety on profootballfocus.com. Ward stands at 5'10 200 lbs and was drafted with the 38th pick of the 2010 draft by the Browns. He was the number four safety overall according to profootballfocus.com. Ward is known for being a hard hitter, something us Eagles fans are very fond of. Some of you may be familiar with Ward for his ACL tearing hit on Gronk or because he was drafted the pick after we selected Nate Allen. With this all said, Ward will probably be slapped with the franchise tag by the Browns.
Donte Hitner (29 yo, 49ers)
- Hitner is another stud at the safety position. He graded out second amongst free agent safeties according to profootballfocus.com. Hitner has gained some fame from the average fan for changing his name from Whitner to Hitner. The name fits, because he really can hit. Hitner, the former #8 pick from Ohio State, is a big strong safety who strikes fear in receivers hearts. Hitner is another guy that us Eagles fans would love to see but I highly doubt we snag him from the 49ers. He is too good for them to let go; they, like us, are championship contenders.
Jairus Byrd (27 yo, Bills)
- Byrd is very well known here on BleedingGreenNation. He finished third on profootballfocus.com's free agent Safety rankings. Byrd is another Oregon Duck. He was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft and is a three-time Pro Bowl selection. This past season, he was chosen to be on the Second Team All-Pro Defensive Squad. While I agree with ProFootballFocus in that Byrd is the third best safety available this offseason, I truly believe that Byrd is the best fit for our scheme. We need ballhawks at the safety position as our corners are used a lot in run defense. Byrd is the epitome of a ballhawk at the safety position and I think Kelly pursues him hard.