Philadelphia Eagles training camp 2015 is fast approaching. Coaches and players report as soon as Saturday, August 1. The Eagles training camp schedule, including information on practices open to the public, can be found by clicking here.
As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles roster. Today we look at the safety group.
Malcolm Jenkins, Walter Thurmond, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos, Chris Prosinski, Ed Reynolds, Jerome Couplin, (Jaylen Watkins)
The Eagles are pretty screwed at safety if Malcolm Jenkins goes down. The 27-year-old veteran is the only clear, proven starter on the back end. Jenkins got off to a great start in 2014 before slowing down towards the end of the year, but he was mostly solid throughout. He's also a respected voice on the field and in the locker room. Jenkins isn't a star but he's at least an above average starting safety.
Philadelphia tried to pair Jenkins with Devin McCourty this offseason but the free agent defensive back decided to take less money to re-sign with the New England Patriots. With McCourty off the table, the Eagles' options were limited. And so now Walter Thurmond, who has never played safety at any level of football in his life, is projected to start next to Jenkins. There's actually reason to believe the move might work out. Thurmond is a talented player with good coverage skills. He looked great during the team's non-contact spring practices. On the downside, his lack of experience could catch up with him in a game setting. He's also extremely injury prone.
Chip Kelly doesn't seem to be the biggest fan of Earl Wolff. The Eagles coach made it clear Wolff was holding himself out of practice this spring. There's certainly room for the 25-year-old Wolff to step up at safety and win a job. It just doesn't seem likely, however. He's had issues staying healthy. He's not the best special teams player so his value as a backup is limited as well. Wolff showed a brief glimpse of promise as a rookie in 2013 but he hasn't done much since then. He's not guaranteed a roster spot by any means.
Chris Maragos is one of the best special teams player in the NFL. Maragos led the Eagles in special teams tackles with 14 last year. The problem with Maragos is that he's an ideal long-term starter at safety.
Chris Prosinski was a really underrated addition by the Eagles last year. He finished fourth in special teams tackles despite only playing in eight games. Prosinski started nine games in his career with the Jaguars but he struggled. Like Maragos, he's a good special teams player but not a great option as a starting safety.
Ed Reynolds spent last season on Philadelphia's practice squad despite being selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Stanford safety was at a disadvantage last summer since he missed the team's spring practices. This time around Reynolds will be more familiar with the scheme and better adjusted to the NFL. He could be in the mix to compete for a backup spot.
Jerome Couplin is a bit of an intriguing player due to the fact the Eagles stole him off the Lions' practice squad late last season. Kelly praised Couplin during spring practices. The 6-2, 215 pound 23-year-old is also in the mix for a backup safety spot.
Jaylen Watkins was already discussed in the Eagles cornerback preview, but he's worth mentioning here since he also took some third string safety reps during the spring. One would figure Watkins has a better shot to make the team at safety than cornerback.
How will it play out?
Jenkins is obviously locked in as one starter. It seems safe to say Thurmond is pretty locked in as the starter next to him. As previously mentioned, Thurmond had a very strong spring. Kelly also went out of his way to praise the former Oregon player (Duck Bias!).
Maragos and Prosinski will probably be back. Kelly really, really values special teams. Don't dismiss that fact. Prosinski also has some game experience, so that works in his favor.
The Eagles only kept four safeties in 2014 after carrying five on the final roster in 2015. There's no guarantee a fifth spot will be made available. It's up to Wolff, Reynolds, or Couplin (and possibly Watkins) to step up and make a case for themselves.
Who could be a surprise cut?
I left off Wolff in some of my 53-man roster projections earlier this offseason. Some people seemed surprised by that. Don't be.