The safety position has been a huge question mark for the Eagles this offseason. The team seemingly hasn't done much to replace Nate Allen, who left Philadelphia to sign a ridiculously big contract with the Oakland Raiders in free agency. Malcolm Jenkins is a clear starter at one position, but who will be lining up next to him this season?
To some surprise, it might just be Walter Thurmond. The veteran cornerback was seen working with the safety position group during Thursday's OTA practice. He also lined up at safety (next to Chris Prosinski) with the second team during the team's live drills.
Prior to Thursday's practice, Chip Kelly spoke about the team's decision to give Thurmond a look on the back end.
"He's always around the ball," Kelly said. "I think he's had a lot of experience playing nickel, so he's been an inside guy. He can see things. He's very intelligent. He's an intuitive football player. He is the first guy out of that corner mix that is getting a shot at inside."
There's no doubt Thurmond is versatile. He played at both outside cornerback and nickel for both Seattle and (briefly) the Giants. There's also no doubt he has some talent. Seahawks writer Danny Kelly had some real positive things to say about Thurmond earlier this offseason:
"He can play inside or out, he’s fast and long-levered. He can mirror in coverage and has good makeup speed. He’s good at locating the ball in the air, and he’s feisty and competitive. He has the capability to be a playmaker [...] He’s got a crazy long wingspan (same wingspan as Richard Sherman)."
But along with a concerning injury history, there is doubt about Thurmond's experience. According to Thurmond, he's never lined up on the back end on game day.
"[The only experience I have includes] whatever reps I've taken in practice. Scout team and stuff like that. Just getting conditioning up and going out there and trying to give our offense the best look for preparing the week and stuff like that. I've had some experience. Nothing in a game."
What about college or high school?
"Same thing. Just practice. Just practice reps and stuff like that. But those are very crucial. At the end of the day, it's football. I've been in some of the biggest games that you can play in this league. It doesn't phase me about the competition level. It's just a new position and I'm up for the challenge."
It's worth noting that Chris Maragos took the first team safety repetitions next to Jenkins on Thursday, but he's obviously thought to be more of a special teams player. Maragos has the advantage of playing for the Eagles last year and already knowing the scheme. With time, it seems possible it could be Thurmond who ends up taking the starters snaps this fall.