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5 things to know about new Eagles cornerback Josiah Scott

Michigan State and Jaguars perspective on Philadelphia’s new defensive back.

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The Philadelphia Eagles traded for Josiah Scott earlier this week. Who?

In order to learn more about this guy, I reached out to Ryan O’Bleness. Ryan has a unique perspective from covering Scott’s career for both SB Nation’s Michigan State blog, The Only Colors, and SB Nation’s Jacksonville Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country.

1 - Can you take us through his time with Michigan State? And then the Jags?

Scott was a bit under-recruited coming out of high school, ranking as the No. 104 cornerback prospect in the 2017 class according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He didn’t have a ton of Power Five offers outside of Michigan State, Iowa, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia. I think because of this, Scott came to East Lansing with a chip on his shoulder, and what he did was find an immediate starting role as a true freshman, starting in 12 games and earning Freshman All-American honors by ESPN and the Big Ten Network, as well as third-team All-Big Ten honors, after recording 30 total tackles, two interceptions, 12 passes defended and a forced fumble.

Scott suffered a preseason injury during his sophomore campaign and missed the first eight games of the 2018 season, but still made five starts and recorded seven pass breakups and two interceptions. In his junior year, and final season at Michigan State, Scott earned second-team All-Big Ten honors after starting in 13 games and recording a career-high 55 total tackles, with 11 passes defended and three picks, as well as a fumble forced and a fumble recovery. Overall, Scott had a strong career for the Spartans and was a big part of a defense that ranked 19th in yardage allowed per game in 2017, ninth in 2018, and 36th in 2019. Those defenses also included current Philadelphia Eagles, Joe Bachie, and Raequan Williams, who Scott will now reunite with in Philly.

As for his time in the NFL, Scott was drafted in the fourth round (No. 137 overall) by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020, which I was ecstatic about as a fan of both Michigan State and the Jaguars. Scott played primarily on the outside, often as a boundary cornerback for Michigan State, but the Jaguars mostly used him inside in the slot as a nickel cornerback. He didn’t get a ton of playing time as a rookie, but injuries in the secondary forced him into the lineup for a bit, and he played in 80 defensive snaps in six games. Scott recorded 11 tackles, including 10 solo tackles and one tackle for loss. He allowed six completions on seven targets for 77 yards, and a passer rating of 112.5 when targeted, according to Pro Football Reference. Pro Football Focus gave Scott an overall grade of 46.9 for the 2020 season.

2 - What’s the reaction to the Jags moving on from him? Are people cool with the trade?

I think most fans probably didn’t mind the trade, as they either were casual fans who weren’t too familiar with his play, or knew he was just a depth piece in a crowded cornerbacks room that now features Shaquill Griffin, CJ Henderson, Tre Herndon, Sidney Jones, and 2021 second-round draft pick Tyson Campbell, among others. For me, I wasn’t a fan of the move because Scott was the only player on the roster from Michigan State, so I am a little biased when it comes to him, but I knew the writing was on the wall for Scott with the new additions at cornerback, and I wasn’t sure that he was a great scheme fit for new head coach Urban Meyer and defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. The fact that the Jaguars were able to get both a draft pick for him and a player probably makes it a good trade for Jacksonville.

3 - What are his strengths?

Entering the league, Scott was well-regarded for his technique and fundamentals as a cornerback. He was a ballhawk in college, and he also played in a variety of coverage techniques that likely helped him adjust to the NFL. He also has good speed with a 4.42-second 40-yard dash time. As I mentioned, he has experience playing outside in college and inside in the NFL, so he has some versatility there. While he is small, he is very much a willing tackler and isn’t afraid to get physical. Scott is also an instinctive player and a competitor through and through. Even though Scott didn’t play much on special teams for the Jaguars last year, he should have some appeal there for the Eagles.

4 - What are his weaknesses?

The biggest thing going against Scott is his size, at just 5-foot-9, 185 pounds. His small stature doesn’t deter him from being physical, and he is a solid tackler, but obviously bigger wide receivers are an issue for him and he is going to lose a lot of jump ball situations. This is why he is better suited in the slot in the NFL, as there isn’t much he can do to improve his height. Of course, there are always also going to be durability and strength concerns for a player of his size, too, and may struggle to get off blocks in run support against stronger wide receivers/blockers. The other thing is just lack of experience. He got a solid 80 snaps last year, but that isn’t a whole lot, and he didn’t perform particularly well when given the opportunity. Truth be told, he probably wasn’t quite ready to see meaningful playing time as a rookie and was forced into the lineup early due to injuries. With all of that said, if he is able to find some more playing time, and get more comfortable with the speed of the NFL game, I am confident he can carve out a solid NFL career.

5 - Anything to know about him off the field? (Besides the fact he’s a big Eagles fan, apparently.)

As a junior, Scott was a member of Michigan State’s “Eagles Leadership Council,” which was generally a group of 12 players who provided leadership and voices of reason to the team who the younger players can look up to and rely on for help and advice. So he was a player who his Spartan peers really looked up to, and like I said, Scott, has always seemed to have had a chip on his shoulder that drives him to be the best he can be.

BLG’s take: Scott could compete for a starting or backup job as the Eagles’ nickel cornerback.

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