There are still a number of holes on the Eagles' roster despite a busy offseason by the team. One of the biggest positions of need is safety. Malcolm Jenkins is a clear starter at one of the two starting spots but there is no clear replacement for Nate Allen. Internal options aren't overly encouraging, despite Chip Kelly's insistence otherwise.
Kelly said the safety spot opposite Malcolm Jenkins will be a competition. Said there's players on roster now who could potentially start— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) March 25, 2015
With Allen having signed a (ridiculously lucrative) contract with the Oakland Raiders, the Eagles have six safeties remaining on the roster: Jenkins, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos, Chris Prosinski, Ed Reynolds, and Jerome Couplin III. Maragos and Prosinski both figure to be special teams players. Reynolds was a fifth round draft pick last season before being released and spending the entire season on Philadelphia's practice squad. Couplin was signed away from the Detroit Lions practice squad by the Eagles late in 2014 before being stashed away as a game day inactive.
When it comes to Wolff, the third-year player has some significant injury concerns. Wolff's 2014 season ended early after he underwent mini-microfracture surgery on his right knee. It was reported at the time that Wolff isn't expected to be back until May 2015, which means the safety likely miss some of the team's offseason workouts.
When Chip was asked about plan at safety, he mentioned Earl Wolff's health. Will be important development to watch this offseason.— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) March 25, 2015
Philadelphia may look elsewhere to solve their safety problem. According to Kelly, the team will give defensive back Jaylen Watkins a look at safety.
Kelly said Jaylen Watkins will have an opportunity at the safety spot. Lots of time, lots of reps to sort out. Nolan Caroll stays at CB— Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) March 25, 2015
Watkins' positional versatility was highlighted by Kelly last year after the Eagles drafted him. For the most part, however, Watkins didn't practice at safety last year until injuries to both Allen and Wolff forced a change. Then Watkins reportedly moved back to cornerback full time once the safety depth was restored. Keep in mind that during his four years with the Florida Gators, Watkins spent the first three years primarily at cornerback before shifting to safety midway through 2013.
Perhaps the Eagles didn't want to burden Watkins too much since he was a rookie. If there's ever a good time for a position change, it would be now in the offseason.
The fact that the Eagles might have to rely on their second-year mid-round pick changing positions to solve their safety problem doesn't seem very encouraging. Given a lack of better options, however, it might be one of their only options. The Eagles failed to land Devin McCourty in free agency despite a large offer. The 2015 NFL Draft may provide an answer but this year's safety group is seemingly weak. Watkins stepping up would be a huge relief for the Eagles.