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Eagles All-22 Film Review: Reed Blankenship can build on an impressive rookie season

Is ‘Ghost’ ready to step up into a full-time starting role?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Before we truly get into the depths of the off-season, it’s time to review the 2022 draft class. I won’t review anyone unless they played enough snaps (so this will be a very short series!). This is the last player I’m going to review, but I think he is the most interesting to talk about Reed Blankenship surprised everyone with his play last year, so let’s look at what he did and what summarize what I think about him moving forward.

Previously: Jordan Davis | Cam Jurgens

The Stats

Hands up - who had Reed Blankenship as Pro Football Focus’ 10th-best safety this year then? The numbers are strong in pretty much every category, albeit a very small sample size of course. The really interesting thing is the number of deep snaps Blankenship played because a lot of the safeties the Eagles have added this offseason excel in the box or in the slot. This gives him a fantastic chance of playing a lot of snaps this year, even under a new defensive coordinator.


+ He showed some outstanding reps as a run defender, where he came flying downhill to make a play on the ball carrier. This is vital for a split-safety defense.

+ His instincts looked really strong. He didn’t seem phased by play-fakes or misdirections and always seemed near the ball.

+ He showed good tackling technique and his athletic range looked really good at times. He’s got a really good build for a safety.

+ He showed such a good understanding of the Eagles’ defense for a rookie. Playing safety in this defense is not easy and it’s a huge credit to Blankenship that he played so well as a rookie.

+ I love watching him play. He was one of my favorite stories of last year and his combination of instincts, size, and range is really fun to watch.


- His athleticism and top-end speed, especially in space and when not moving in a straight line, feels pretty average at best.

- I don’t know if he has the versatility and cover skills to play any man coverage from the slot. I think he might be a deep zone defender only and I’m not fully sold on his coverage skills.


As someone who was very impressed with Blankenship, I thought I would go back and read some scouting reports on him to try and find out why he went undrafted. This is the summary from Bleacher Report’s scouting profile:

Blankenship plays with physical hands when taking on blocks. At times he does struggle to disengage, but he plays his leverage and sets the edge.Though he has shown to run through ball carriers when playing in the box, when tackling, he can get overextended and forced to dive at better athletes, leading to missed tackles.

Ultimately, Blankenship was a successful player at Middle Tennessee State, where he left as the leading tackler in school history. A player with good movement skills, he may be tapped out with his athletic ability. He’s a consistent player who is draftable with backup potential.

And here is the summary from

Versatile safety with adequate size and good athleticism. Blankenship is a team leader who is aggressive and heavily experienced in a defense that required his versatility. He’s ready and willing in run support but has a problem with tackle angles that causes too many misses from a variety of locations around the field. He’s athletic and his route recognition is good when he’s playing from up top; however, he lacks top-end speed to stay with downfield assignments. He will need to shine on special teams to improve his chances of making it in the league.

Both of those reports feel pretty fair actually. They both mention his biggest issue is a lack of top-end speed and missed tackles. We didn’t really see that jump out as a huge issue last year. However, I have to remind myself constantly about this, the sample size is very small. Not only is the sample size small, but it’s also important to remember he’s going to be playing in a new defense this year under a new defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. As much as I believe in Blankenship, I probably shouldn’t be totally shocked if he does have a slightly underwhelming season.

But... I think Blankenship is going to have a good season and I feel pretty confident that he’ll be a starter despite what I said above. I think he’s the best deep safety the Eagles have and I expect him to start with Terrell Edmunds who is better closer to the line of scrimmage. I expect Sydney Brown to rotate in too but he’s also better closer to the line of scrimmage.

Reed Blankenship is unlikely to be an elite safety and he fell in the draft because of concerns over his speed and tackling. But he showed a really strong understanding of the defense last year and Jonathan Gannon asks a lot out of his safeties. That defense is not easy to play and for a rookie, Blankenship was really impressive. He is obviously smart, and instinctive and it’s pretty incredible how well he played for a UDFA. Safety is arguably the one position (outside of quarterback) where athleticism is slightly overrated and Blakenship showed really good instincts and route recognition. I wouldn’t be surprised if his career arc follows someone like Marcus Epps who was also a late-round pick that I really liked.

The Eagles added a lot of safeties this offseason, and it is easy to predict Blankenship as the odd one out when you look at the profiles of the players they added but, I’m predicting a good season for Blankenship.

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