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What the Eagles should do at cornerback

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Eagles roster outlook: position-by-position.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2018 roster. It’s time to start figuring out what this team needs to do to get back to the Super Bowl. Today we’ll continue this roster outlook series by looking at the cornerback position.

THE PLAYERS

RASUL DOUGLAS

Regular season stats: 544 snaps, 58 tackles, 3 interceptions, 4 passes defensed

Playoff stats: 116 snaps, 10 tackles, 1 pass defensed

Review: Douglas was the odd man out of the rotation heading into the season. Mills and Darby were established as the starting corners and Douglas wasn’t involved in the battle for slot supremacy. Douglas had to wait until Week 10, after Mills got hurt, to enter the starting lineup. There were some moments where he got burned, which is always going to be the case, but ultimately the secondary stabilized down the stretch when Douglas was starting.

Outlook: With Mills recovering from injury and Darby potentially leaving, Douglas has a real opportunity to enter the 2019 season as a full-time starter on the outside. He’s proven he can handle that role and make some plays on the ball. It’s just a matter of how good a starter he can be.

Poll

Rasul Douglas: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (3957 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (79 votes)
4036 votes total Vote Now

RONALD DARBY

Regular season stats: 542 snaps, 43 tackles, 1 interception, 12 passes defensed

Review: Darby had a real quality offseason. He also got out to a good start in Week 1 by shutting down Julio Jones (relatively speaking). From there, Darby’s play was uneven. He made some plays in coverage, as evidenced by his dozen pass breakups and an 86.5 passer rating when targeted, but he was also a liability as a tackler. He played a part in the defense allowing big plays. Darby’s season came to an end when he suffered a torn ACL in Week 10.

Outlook: Darby is going to be a free agent this offseason. His injury could potentially impact his market but I still think it’ll be strong. He’s arguably the best corner available in free agency. Some team will offer him more money than the Eagles are willing to pay. Philly’s probably counting on him to sign elsewhere so that it helps their compensatory pick formula. The Eagles could potentially get a 2020 fourth-round comp pick with Darby moving on.

Poll

Ronald Darby: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Stay
    (949 votes)
  • 76%
    Go
    (3065 votes)
4014 votes total Vote Now

AVONTE MADDOX

Regular season stats: 540 snaps, 35 tackles, 2 interceptions, 4 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble, 0.5 sack

Playoff stats: 133 snaps, 11 tackles, 4 passes defensed

Review: Maddox really struggled in spring practices before coming on late in training camp. He forced himself into the nickel corner battle that he originally wasn’t even contending for. Maddox lost out to Jones but he found himself getting playing time in the secondary when Philly needed help at safety. Having never played the position before in his entire life, Maddox seemingly acquitted himself very well. Maddox got hurt in Week 11 and eventually returned to the starting lineup at ... outside cornerback. He had some real strong moments there early on, though he faltered a bit by biting on double moves in the playoffs. Ultimately, Maddox played well enough to allow the fewest yards per coverage snap in 2018. Quarterbacks had a mere 55.9 passer rating when throwing his way. Maddox made some huge, season-saving plays as a rookie. His forced fumble against the Jaguars and his tackle to keep Todd Gurley in-bounds late during the Rams game are just some of his bright spots that immediately come to mind.

Outlook: It’ll be fascinating to see exactly where the Eagles line up Maddox in 2019 and beyond. Is he an outside cornerback? Is he a slot guy? Is he a safety? Can the Eagles line him up all over, kind of like how they do with Malcolm Jenkins? The presence of LeBlanc probably rules out Maddox playing as the nickel corner. Maybe they just keep him on the outside despite the fact he’s only 5-9 and has short arms. It’s hard to say exactly what the team has in mind for him but the good news is he seems to be a really good player. The Eagles should be able to figure it out.

Poll

Avonte Maddox: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (5019 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (74 votes)
5093 votes total Vote Now

JALEN MILLS

Regular season stats: 457 snaps, 42 tackles, 9 passes defensed

Review: Mills had a very good offseason but it didn’t really translate to the regular season as he was up and down. The down caught everyone’s attention as Mills was prone to getting beat deep. According to Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks had a 107.2 passer rating when targeting Mills. It wasn’t all bad for the Green Goblin, though, as he actually forced more red zone incompletions than any other cornerback in 2018. Mills’ season came to an end when he suffered a foot injury in Week 8. The Eagles originally seemed to think he could return in 2018 but that was ruled out when the team placed him on injured reserve in December.

Outlook: Dave Spadaro used some ominous language when talking about Mills’ injury a couple weeks ago. Spadaro said it could be a “tricky situation” and also added: “Is he going to be OK for 2019? Think about the challenges for a cornerback with a foot injury ...” Yikes. We know the coaching staff loves Mills, so he’ll be on the team. But when is he going to be healthy? And how does that impact the role he has? More questions than answers when it comes to Mills’ outlook as he enters a contract year.

Poll

Jalen Mills: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Stay
    (2520 votes)
  • 35%
    Go
    (1402 votes)
3922 votes total Vote Now

CRE’VON LEBLANC

Regular season stats: 349 snaps, 24 tackles, 1 pass defensed

Playoff stats: 106 snaps, 6 tackles, 1 interception, 3 passes defensed

Review: The Eagles claimed LeBlanc via waivers in early November. He quickly saw playing time with Philly dealing with so many injury issues at corner. The man nicknamed “Strap” really made the most out of his opportunity by playing very well in the slot. He was actually PFF’s highest graded corner from the playoffs, which is crazy.

Outlook: Strap, who turns 25 in July, is under contract for the 2019 season. He should be in the driver’s seat to be the Eagles’ starting nickel corner next season. He earned it.

Poll

Cre’Von LeBlanc: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 98%
    Stay
    (3901 votes)
  • 1%
    Go
    (71 votes)
3972 votes total Vote Now

SIDNEY JONES

Regular season stats: 321 snaps, 25 tackles, 2 passes defensed

Review: In his first full healthy offseason with the Eagles, Jones beat out Bausby and Maddox for the starting nickel corner job. He seemed to be playing well early on before suffering a hamstring injury in Week 6. Jones returned to the lineup in Week 11 against the Saints, where New Orleans viewed him as a weak point of the defense. Jones’ last game of the season was in Week 14. He clearly wasn’t healthy as he easily got burnt by Cowboys receivers. Overall, it was a disappointing year for Jones.

Outlook: Jones has only managed to play in 10 out of 37 possible games since being selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The 22-year-old defender has talent but he really needs to prove he can stay healthy. Jones could potentially start at outside cornerback in 2019 if he has a really strong offseason and seizes the job. That’s not exactly a given.

Poll

Sidney Jones: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 89%
    Stay
    (3473 votes)
  • 10%
    Go
    (427 votes)
3900 votes total Vote Now

DE’VANTE BAUSBY

Regular season stats: 146 snaps, 14 tackles

Review: Bausby, the star of spring workouts, went from competing for the starting nickel role to not even making the original 53-man roster. The Eagles eventually brought him back after suffering a ton of injuries at corner. Bausby clearly struggled when he played and was cut after Week 16.

DEXTER MCDOUGLE

Regular season stats: 106 snaps, 5 tackles, 1 pass defensed

Review: The Eagles signed McDougle, who previously spent time on Philadelphia’s roster in 2017, when Jones got hurt in Week 6 and they needed more help at corner. He played a ton of snaps in two games before being cut. A weird footnote of the 2018 season.

CHANDON SULLIVAN

Regular season stats: 87 snaps, 7 tackles

Review: The Eagles signed Sullivan as a rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. He landed on the practice squad after having a nice preseason. The Eagles promoted him to the 53-man roster in late October. The Eagles were forced to start Sullivan in Week 12 when he was one of the Eagles’ only healthy corners. He mightily struggled.

Outlook: Sullivan showed some potential last offseason but he clearly wasn’t ready to play in real games. Maybe he’ll take a step forward in Year 2. He’ll compete for a roster spot in training camp.

Poll

Chandon Sullivan: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Stay
    (773 votes)
  • 72%
    Go
    (2022 votes)
2795 votes total Vote Now

JOSH HAWKINS

Regular season stats: 0 (defensive) snaps

Playoff stats: 21 snaps, 3 tackles

Review: The Eagles signed Hawkins to their practice squad on December 11. They promoted him to their active roster on December 24. Hawkins was forced into playing time when Douglas got hurt during the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints. And yet somehow people blame Jim Schwartz for that game.

Outlook: He’ll compete for a roster spot in 2019, I guess.

Poll

Josh Hawkins: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Stay
    (285 votes)
  • 88%
    Go
    (2246 votes)
2531 votes total Vote Now

JEREMIAH MCKINNON

Review: The Eagles signed McKinnon to their practice squad in late November.

Outlook: Probably just a camp body.

Poll

Jeremiah McKinnon: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Stay
    (182 votes)
  • 91%
    Go
    (2006 votes)
2188 votes total Vote Now

MERCY MASTON

Review: The Eagles signed this former CFL defensive back to a reserve/future contract after the 2018 season.

Outlook: Probably just a camp body.

Poll

Mercy Maston: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Stay
    (288 votes)
  • 85%
    Go
    (1741 votes)
2029 votes total Vote Now

ELIE BOUKA

Review: The Eagles signed this speedy former CFL corner to a reserve/future contract back in 2018. He suffered a season-ending injury in April and remained on IR for the entire season.

Outlook: Probably just a camp body.

Poll

Elie Bouka: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Stay
    (464 votes)
  • 76%
    Go
    (1480 votes)
1944 votes total Vote Now

FREE AGENCY OR TRADES

The Eagles won’t be spending big money at this position since they already have a lot of talented youth on the roster. Maybe a vet minimum guy, if anything. Someone like Kayvon Webster (Cory Undlin connection)?

NFL DRAFT OPTIONS

I’ve seen a number of mock drafts projecting cornerbacks to the Eagles in the first round. Unless it’s a no-brainer “best player available” kind of deal, I just don’t see it happening. I think the Eagles like their youth at corner. They could address the position on Day 3.