ESPN came up with a list of 10 players heading into their second season who are primed to have breakout years. Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Eric Rowe checks in at No. 8. You can read the entire list via In$ider. Here's what was written about Rowe.
"A year ago at this time, people were so busy talking about Byron Maxwell's six-year, $63 million contract with the Eagles that few noticed Rowe, a second-round cornerback out of Utah. Rowe ended up getting more than 500 snaps as a rookie, and based on Sports Info Solutions charting, he had a higher success rate and allowed fewer yards per pass than Maxwell or any of the Eagles' other corners. And now Maxwell is in Miami, E.J. Biggers is with New England and the Eagles are counting on Rowe and Nolan Carroll to be their top corner tandem."
It's true that Rowe flashed starting potential as a rookie. He had some really good performances that aided Philadelphia's wins over the Patriots and the Bills. Here's what we wrote about Rowe earlier this offseason.
"Overall, Rowe's rookie performance was encouraging. I'd argue it takes time for most rookie defensive backs to adjust to the NFL. He showed promise to build on. Opposing quarterbacks had a 80.3 rating when targeting Rowe in 2015. That figure ranked 26th best out of 118 cornerbacks last season. Rowe was targeted 58 times as a rookie and he only allowed 51.7% of those attempts to be caught. That ranked as the 12th best rate in the NFL. There are reasons to be encouraged about Rowe moving forward."
Rowe's promising performance as a rookie has led most (myself included) to believe he's going to be one of the team's two starting cornerbacks in 2016. That still might be the case, but after watching the team's spring practices, it might not be such a lock. Rowe didn't stand out like other cornerbacks and he spent a decent amount of time running with the second team.
The Eagles have a lot of competition at corner. Veteran Leodis McKelvin impressed during the spring and seems poised to start. Rookie cornerback Jalen Mills could also be in the mix after standing out in a good way. Ron Brooks got a lot of first team looks in the slot. Nolan Carroll was the Eagles' best cornerback last season before getting hurt in late November. He didn't practice much this spring but he'll challenge for a starting spot if he can stay healthy.
Rowe may not have set the world on fire during OTAs and minicamp, but there's still obviously a ton of time left before the depth chart is decided. Rowe could be a player who thrives with the added physicality of training camp. Cornerbacks aren't allowed to press and get physical during spring practices.
As of last year, the Eagles were very high on Rowe's future. Defensive backs Cory Undlin said the Utah alumnus can be a "top-level starter" in the NFL. Undlin is still in Philadelphia despite the head coaching change, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is the one ultimately running the defense. We'll see if he believes in Rowe as much as the last regime did.