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Eagles Position Review 2014: Safety

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The last of the position reviews of the defense with the last line of defense.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Concluding the Eagles defensive position reviews with the safeties.

The Players

MALCOLM JENKINS

Numbers: 3 interceptions (one for a touchdown), 14 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 63 tackles

Review: The team's top priority in free agency last year, Malcolm Jenkins delivered in 2014. His 3 interceptions were a career high, and his intelligence and leadership (along with his abilities) helped clean up some of the mess that was the Eagles defensive backfield. The pass defense in 2014 wasn't good, but it was much better than in 2013, and Jenkins was the only new starter. With better hands, it could have been even better.

Of course, things weren't perfect. The team's preference to stay in base defense and use their safeties as slot corners to better defend against the run was a big reason why Jenkins was their most coveted free agent, despite his poor tackling. And that reason was well founded, in 2013, Eagles opponents ran against them on 41.7% of plays, and 46.9% in 2014. But the cost of that was keeping the team's best cornerback off the field, and teams took advantage of that in the passing game.

Still, Jenkins was a massive upgrade from the wholly ineffective Patrick Chung. And it's hard to hold Jenkins limitations in pass coverage against him, if he was strong at it he wouldn't have been moved from cornerback after his rookie year. That the Eagles decreased Brandon Boykin snaps in 2014 so they could play their safeties against WRs more is no fault of Jenkins. Jenkins was exactly as advertised and was the best starter in the Eagles secondary.

NATE ALLEN

Numbers: 4 interceptions, 5 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 sack, 51 tackles

Review: Continuity can be a good thing, and the Eagles were hoping that another year with the same coaches and almost all the same teammates would see the improvement Nate Allen made in 2013 continue. It didn't happen.

Making matters worse, the team's philosophy of staying in base vs three WR sets was particularly harsh on Allen. When Jenkins would be in the slot, Allen of course would be the deep safety, a role he is not particularly suited for. And when he was asked to cover WRs one on one, he was ineffective.

But like Jenkins, it is hard to fault the player when he has known limitations and the coaches continually ask him to play beyond those limitations. Allen wasn't horrible, and in 2014 he doubled his career total in turnovers, but he isn't a long term solution to the Eagles secondary.

CHRIS MARAGOS

Numbers: 1 forced fumble, 14 tackles, 1 touchdown

Review: Signed exclusively to play special teams, Chris Maragos was a tremendous signing. The Eagles special teams were dominant in all phases in 2014, and Maragos was a very big part of that. He was second on the team in special teams snaps, and got himself a highlight play to cap off a highly impactful season.

EARL WOLFF

Numbers: 1 pass defensed, 6 tackles

Review: After a promising rookie season taking over for Chung in 2013, Earl Wolff had trouble getting on and staying on the field in 2014. He struggled to beat out Allen in training camp, and then after being given a start in relief of an injured Allen in Week 9 against Houston, spent the next two games inactive and then ultimately went on injured reserve.

CHRIS PROSINSKI

Numbers: 6 tackles

The Eagles win against the Houston Texans was a Pyrrhic victory. They won 31-21, but as we know they lost Nick Foles to a season-ending broken collarbone and DeMeco Ryans to a season ending (and possibly Eagles career ending) Achilles injury. But those weren't the only players to lose their place. To replace Ryans' roster spot, the team signed Chris Prosinski, and the next week he was active and Earl Wolff never played again. Prosinski was active in special teams, but offers little in the way of playing safety.

JEROME COUPLIN

Signed off the Lions practice squad after Week 14, Couplin did not appear in any games. It's easy to see why the Eagles signed him, he's a physical freak. 6'2" with an enormous 80" wingspan and measurables that would have made him the top safety at the combine in the long and vertical jumps, he has the size and athleticism that teams (and especially Chip Kelly) crave. The question is, can he play. We'll find out in camp.

ED REYNOLDS

A 5th round draft pick after declaring early, Ed Reynolds spent the entire season on the practice squad, and then saw the team sign two safeties to the active roster during the season. Oops. Reynolds enters camp deep on the depth chart.

Who could leave

Nate Allen is a free agent. Every one else is under contract.

Who could sign

Devin McCourty, Marcus Gilchrist, and (don’t laugh) Antrel Rolle are all converted cornerbacks, which fits the profile of what the Eagles want at safety.

Draft options

This is considered a weak draft for safeties. Landon Collins (Alabama) is likely the only first round safety, and he isn't a fit for the Eagles. Cody Prewitt (Ole Miss) and Gerod Holliman (Louisville) might be day 2 options, but the lack of quality at safety in the draft probably steers them towards signing a free agent.