The Philadelphia Eagles added a new piece to their secondary in free agency by signing Will Parks to a one-year contract. It remains to be seen exactly how the versatile defensive back fits in with his hometown team.
In order to learn more about Philly’s new defender, I thought it’d benefit BGN readers to get a Denver Broncos perspective on Parks. Here’s my exchange with the knowledgeable Jeff Essary of Mile High Report.
1 - Can you recap Parks’ time with the Broncos?
Parks was drafted in 2016 along with Justin Simmons as safety depth for the aging TJ Ward and Darian Stewart. He mainly played special teams and rotated in occasionally for injury (23% of snaps)
Once Denver moved on from Ward in 2017, Parks saw a huge uptick in playing time as he became the 3rd safety in Denver’s go-to 3 safety sub package. Parks essentially played dime linebacker in 2017, and was on the field for 60% of the team’s snaps.
2017 was a tough year for Parks as he was still learning and growing after coming in as a 6th round pick. Denver led the league in touchdowns given up to running backs and tight ends that year, and Parks was the biggest offender. He allowed 4 touchdowns in his coverage to running backs and tight ends. I wrote about that here.
Here’s another piece I wrote on him after 2018:
In 2017, Parks struggled, allowing four touchdowns in his coverage. In 2018, he allowed zero in over 300+ snaps.— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) July 9, 2019
I believe the sky is the limit for Will Parks under Vic Fangio. https://t.co/Pf1AwMopqT
In 2018, he bounced back with a better year and still was the 3rd safety in a rotation with Justin Simmons and Darian Stewart. 2019 was tough because Vic Fangio came in and brought a whole new defense to learn, and didn’t run as many 3 safety packages, plus they signed Kareem Jackson to come in at safety. For the first few games of the year, Denver had Parks as a strong safety with Jackson playing nickel, but that didn’t play to either of their strengths and Parks struggled in that role. He eventually settled in as playing just straight nickel-back and lining up across from wide receivers, and excelled in that role (he played some corner in college).
2 - What’s the reaction to him leaving Denver? Should the Broncos have kept him?
I think for the price Philly paid, I would’ve been fine with him staying in Denver, but I think Parks really wanted to go somewhere he could start and he would’ve been stuck behind Jackson and Simmons. I think everyone is sad to see him go. For a 6th round pick to contribute as many snaps as he did and play with as much heart as he did, he definitely endeared himself to the fans here. We’re all excited to see him back in Philly.
3 - What are Parks’ strengths?
He’s smart, tough, and versatile as a DB. I actually really liked him in the nickel role last year and think he could thrive there in the right scheme. He’s not a burner, but he’s got good speed and athleticism. He is a bulldog at chasing down the ball. See his fumble he forced at the goal line against Pittsburgh.
4 - What are Parks’ weaknesses?
I don’t think he’s best suited to play up high, especially as a free safety. He gets caught peeking in the backfield or at the QB sometimes and it’s caused him to get beat deep. To me he struggled when he was forced to sit back and read/anticipate routes as they developed, as opposed to being able to stick to his assignment and chase the ball.
5 - Parks is versatile but where do you think he fits best in the secondary?
I think he fits best in the box, whether that’s as a strong safety who rarely rotates up, or dime linebacker, or nickelback. I think he’s versatile enough to move around a lot within the secondary, but I think he’s at his best when he’s close to the LOS and close to the receivers he’s covering.
Will Parks looked good shifting into the nickel role the last few games of the season.— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) January 18, 2020
Nice job switching on the slot wheel by @PhillyWill11 and Yiadom, causing a coverage sack.
Blough sees Parks follow him in motion, giving the imp. it's man, but falling off to take the hook pic.twitter.com/tt9YQ7J22u
6. Anything else to know about him off the field?
Philly Will is a great guy, and was an excellent teammate. Media and fans all loved interacting with him. He made his mark not only on the Broncos, but in the community with his time in Denver.
Ya’ll got a good player in Parks!
COACH DOUG IS LIT. CALLED EM EARLIER. I CANT WAIT. HES LIT. ITS LIT. THE ENERGY IS THERE. HE WAS LISTENING TO POST MALONE. ALL MAN. LETS DO PEDERSONNNNNNN.— William (@PhillyWill11) March 25, 2020