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Position review: cornerback


Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Continuing our end of season position reviews, we turn to cornerbacks. Consider today Trash Tuesday.

Leodis McKelvin

One of the Jim Schwartz Four, McKelvin had a decent start to the season before dealing with a lingering hamstring injury and ending it with poor play. Hopes that he could regain his form under Jim Schwartz were unfounded, McKelvin made a few good plays but gave up more than a few bad ones. McKelvin will be 32 next year, which is ancient for a defensive back, only 9 DBs aged 32 or older started at least 4 games in 2016.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The Eagles can save $3.2 million cap space cutting McKelvin. That money is better spent on someone else.

Nolan Carroll

Carroll started 16 games for the first time in his career. And most likely his last. Carroll was solid but unspectacular in 2015, but that improvement couldn’t carry over to 2016, and in retrospect as a 29 year old who had never started a full season, he shouldn’t have been expected to.

Verdict: Thumbs down. A free agent this year, the Eagles should walk away. They’ve seen enough over the past three years.

Jalen Mills

In OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason, Jalen Mills so impressed Jim Schwartz that the team felt comfortable moving on from Eric Rowe after just one year. That was premature. Mills was hit or miss in 2016, though you’d never know it from watching him after a play. His lack of long speed should make him a slot corner, the aggression he showed in 2016 could make him a good one.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mills needs to improve in 2017, and given that cornerbacks rookie seasons are often rough ones, there’s reason to believe he will. But for 2016 he cleared the low expectations of a 7th round draft pick.

Ron Brooks

The second member of the Jim Schwartz Four in the secondary, Brooks was signed as a stop gap slot corner, and before suffering a season-ending quadriceps injury, he did his job. He didn’t make big plays, but he also didn’t give up any either, which for an Eagles cornerback is pretty good. A testament to his performance, and to the lack of depth at the position, the Eagles secondary suffered in his absence. He wasn’t the linchpin by any means, but he wasn’t a liability either. Job done.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Eagles need to improve their outside corners, but with Brooks and potentially Mills, they have depth at slot.

CJ Smith

The first of two Carson Wentz NDSU teammates signed by the Eagles (FB/TE Andrew Bonnet spent five weeks on the practice squad), Smith spent five weeks on the practice squad and then ten games as a special teamer, playing 72 special teams snaps and just one snap on defense. He’ll get a 90 man roster spot for training camp, but there shouldn’t be any expectations for him.

Verdict: Smith never gave up a touchdown, so thumbs up!

Dwayne Gratz

Two years ago, Gratz was seen as building block on a Jaguars defense that was ready to turn the corner. In 2016 he ended the season on his third team as the Eagles essentially got an early claim and look at a dirt cheap reclamation project. He’ll get a 90 man roster spot this offseason, with no expectations.

Verdict: Gratz also never gave up a touchdown for the Eagles, so thumbs up!

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