The Eagles are in the market for cornerback depth and starting safety help. While Nate Allen is still a possibility to re-sign and Cary Williams is still on the roster, adding competition at both positions could be beneficial for Philadelphia. A good way to limit the costs and maximize the play-making ability at defensive back is to put a bigger cornerback at safety.
At 6-foot and 198 pounds, Ravens free agent cornerback Corey Graham could fit the bill as a hybrid player. He has starting experience and cornerback was actually a Pro Bowl selection in 2011. While he will probably avoid demand of a huge market as a starter, the Eagles could appeal to him. The front office could pitch him on open competitions at both safety and cornerback, with him being eligible for both. That could be enticing for a player, who at 28, could sign a two-year deal and cash-in afterwards with some solid play at a new position.
Oh, and then there is that whole New Hampshire connection with Chip Kelly. The current Eagles head coach was the New Hampshire offensive coordinator during Graham's entire college career. In fact, Graham was likely the best player on the team, so Kelly clearly is familiar with him.
Graham was drafted by the Bears in the fifth round during the 2007 NFL Draft. He started off as a depth player, appearing in 13 games and collecting 15 tackles. He played in 16 games (starting nine) in 2008 and produced 91 tackles, eight pass breakups, an interception and a forced fumble.
In 2009, Graham was regulated to backup duty again. He still was able to collected 35 tackles and a pass breakup in 16 games (one start). His 2010 season was similarly unflattering, as he spent a ton of time on special teams and had just 23 tackles on the season.
In 2011, Graham was elected to the Pro Bowl his special teams work and also produced 16 tackles, three pass breakups, three interceptions and a forced fumble. Following the end of his rookie deal, Graham went looking for a starting gig. He joined the Ravens on a two-year deal in 2012.
Graham appeared in 16 games (starting eight) in his first year with the Ravens. Along with collecting a Super Bowl ring for his vital role in the Ravens secondary during their playoff run, Graham had 60 tackles, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
This past season, Graham again appeared in 16 games (five starts). He was a standout on special teams and saw heavy snaps on defense. He had 74 tackles, his first sack, 12 pass deflections, four interceptions and a forced fumble while playing all around the Ravens secondary.
Appeal to the Eagles
Graham is clearly a more than capable tackler and special teams player. He can make plays and has a lot of experience, despite being 28. He is also likely a guy that can be bought relatively low, as he has never been a full-time starter.
He was a teammate of Cary Williams in 2012, so perhaps he can recruit him to Philadelphia. There is also the appeal of having another Super Bowl winner on the team.
He also has that previously mentioned history with Kelly, who will put him in a position to be productive. Billy Davis also has a history of turning cornerbacks into successful safeties, as proof with his work with Antrel Rolle in Arizona.
Eagles Appeal to Graham
Graham wants to be a starter in the league, as any player does. At 28, his time has come to be that guy or spend the rest of his career as a depth cornerback. The opportunity to compete at both safety and cornerback with a likely edge in one of them, should be appealing to the second-time free agent. Also, having players and coaches that he is familiar with will only help him get adjusted.
Graham has played in cold weather his entire career and is from Buffalo, New York, so clearly he is fine playing the Philadelphia climate. The Eagles have a young team that is on the upswing with plenty of cap space, so Graham should find the direction of the franchise as appealing.
If Graham is comfortable switching positions and taking a two or three-year deal, Philadelphia could be a match made in heaven.
If the Eagles are happy with a special teams ace and possible starter at safety or cornerback with experience, Graham could be a nice find.
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