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Eagles depth chart: Figuring out where the cornerbacks fit in

The Eagles have a lot of cornerbacks. Where do they fit?

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have re-signed Nolan Carroll, the team has a total of nine (9) cornerbacks on the roster. That's a lot! And that figure doesn't even include starting safety and converted corner Malcolm Jenkins, who is more than capable of playing in the slot. So where does everyone fit in? We might not have a definitive answer to that question until OTAs begin. In the meantime, here's a quick overview of the cornerback position on a player-by-player basis.

Eric Rowe

The 23-year-old Rowe returns to the Eagles as a projected starter in 2015. Rowe definitely struggled at time as a rookie but more importantly he flashed the ability to be a really good starter. His performances against the Patriots and Bills last season were especially excellent. He did a good job of keeping his receivers quiet for most of the game. I almost forgot he was even playing at times, which is a good thing. Speaking with reporters last summer, defensive backs Cory Undlin said he feels Rowe can be a top-level cornerback in the NFL. The potential is there. Rowe needs to have a strong offseason and take that next step forward.

Nolan Carroll

Carroll isn't spectacular by any means but he's solid. He's been real impressive in offseason practices the past two years. Eagles players especially praised Carroll for his work ethic during the 2015 offseason. They would go out of their way to talk about how he's one of the best athletes on the team. Injuries have been a hindrance for Carroll. He suffered a broken ankle in late November last season but he expects to be ready for OTAs. Carroll should have the opportunity to win a starting job just like he did last year if he has a strong summer.

Leodis McKelvin

This is an intriguing signing because I don't know exactly where McKelvin fits in. He could challenge Carroll for a starting role on the outside. Maybe the team envisions him as a nickel cornerback or even rotating in at safety. McKelvin has dealt with injuries in his career but he's been a good player when healthy. While I'm not sure exactly where he will play, his $6.2 million contract with $3 million guaranteed suggests he'll getting playing time somewhere.

Ron Brooks

Ron Brooks is already one of my favorite players because he opened his first press conference in Philadelphia with "My name is Ron Brooks, obviously." He's probably not coming in to be a starter but he could push for some playing time. He can hit really hard. At the very least, he'll be solid on special teams. I think of him as a rich man's E.J. Biggers.

JaCorey Shepherd

Quite a few NFL draft "experts" declared Shepherd as one of the biggest steals in the 2015 NFL Draft. The rookie cornerback was having a great offseason before he suffered a season-ending injury in training camp. Shepherd was very active around the ball, which wasn't different than how he played in college. He broke up a lot of passes and recorded some interceptions as well. The Eagles were so encouraged by Shepherd's performance that they traded Brandon Boykin after spring practices. Shepherd likely would have been the team's starting slot cornerback in 2015 if he stayed healthy. Can he reclaim that role moving forward? He'll have to prove himself again coming off the injury.

Jaylen Watkins

The Eagles waived Watkins in final cuts only to bring him back once Carroll went down for the season. Watkins hasn't even really stood out as a sure-fire starter. He theoretically has versatility to play safety but the team has never really used him there. He'll be in the mix for a depth job this summer.

Denzel Rice

Rice was the biggest surprise of training camp last year. He was the lowest ranked UDFA signing made by the Eagles. CBS Sports had him as the No. 880 prospect. Despite this, he defied the odds and ended up being the only undrafted free agent to make the final roster. Like Shepherd, Rice made an impact by always being around the ball in practice. He'll get another look this summer.

Randall Evans

Evans spent most of the season on the practice squad after having a relatively quiet summer. He's buried behind of cornerbacks so he'll need to really step up and stand out to stick around.

Aaron Grymes

The Eagles signed Grymes away from the Canadian Football League. He was a CFL All-Star last season. Grymes is a long-shot but he could be a nice guy to keep around on the practice squad.



Rowe, Carroll, McKelvin, and Brooks are sure-fire roster locks. I'd think Shepherd is close to lock territory as well unless he totally falls off. The likes of Watkins, Evans, Rice, and Grymes could be competing for a sixth spot.

Based on this projection, it seems unlikely the Eagles will take a cornerback in the 2016 NFL Draft. That isn't necessarily true, though. Carroll is only on a one-year deal. McKelvin can easily be cut after this season for a savings of $3.2 million. Here are some cornerback options for the Eagles if they decide to draft a rookie.

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