It's clear Byron Maxwell will be one of the Philadelphia Eagles' starting cornerbacks for not just 2015 but the considerable future. The team rewarded him in free agency with a contract worth $63 million over six years. What isn't so clear is who will start opposite of Maxwell on the Eagles defense.
According to Chip Kelly, there are three main contestants in the mix.
Kelly said that Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll and Walt Thurmond will battle for starting CB spot opposite Maxwell— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) March 25, 2015
Kelly said that #Eagles are open to Brandon Boykin moving outside. "Whoever is the best out of that group will play corner for us."— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) March 25, 2015
It seems like Kelly forgot to mention second year defensive back Jaylen Watkins, although the Eagles coach suggested he might get a look at safety. More on that later.
For now, it's interesting to see Kelly mention Boykin has a shot starting on the outside. Kelly insists that Boykin gets outside repetitions during practice, but those reps haven't translated to Boykin getting a chance on game day. Boykin, as he notes, is just a nickel [cornerback].
Bruh don't ask me anything cause I don't know anything.. I'm just a #nickel..— Brandon Boykin (@BrandonBoykin2) March 4, 2015
Boykin will be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2015 so it's really now or never for the talented defensive back. Based on how the Eagles have handled him to this point, I won't believe they intend on playing Boykin on the outside until I see it. There were ample opportunities for Boykin to replace the struggling Bradley Fletcher and/or Cary Williams last season but the coaching staff decided against him. The team opted to start Nolan Carroll in place of Fletcher late in the season.
Then there was a report from Geoff Mosher last month which indicated the Eagles don't plan on moving Boykin away from his slot role. Boykin just doesn't have the ideal size the Eagles like in their cornerbacks. Kelly hasn't shown a reluctance for sacrificing talent when it comes to stressing scheme fit.
As of now, Carroll seems to be the favorite. He has starting experience on the outside and the team benched Fletcher for him late in the season. Thurmond, like Boykin, has primarily excelled as a nickel corner in his career. Watkins could still be in the mix. The 2015 NFL Draft could also provide options.
Once again, Kelly's actions will speak louder than words when it comes to Boykin's future in Philadelphia.