DARREN Sproles was the last Eagles Returner, who made Special Teams feel like a legitimate contributor in every game. Helping to win the hidden yardage battle, is what former Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp used to call it. These days Special Teams has been de-prioritized, and it shows up in our starting field position.
Right now on the Eagles roster, we have 6 RB’s, and 12 WR’s. Of those 18 players, only 2 have serious collegiate experience returning both punts and kicks. (Don’t even ask about pro return experience.) Those players are WR Jalen Reagor, and undrafted rookie WR Britain Covey. Reagor and WR Greg Ward are our only options with over 20 pro punt returns.
So we have Ward not being dangerous, or Reagor muffing the ball twice in a game. Honestly, the Eagles players who have tried their hands as return men, have sucked horribly at it. Mostly because it takes more than speed to be a great returner. The most important thing you need, are nerves of steel.
For that reason, I think we need to take a serious look at Covey. By “serious” I mean at least until final cuts. We need to see what, if anything, we can squeeze out of his 5’8” 170 pound frame. Yep, he’s a little fucker. This coaching staff has an absolute fetish for small offensive players. And not even the fast ones! Just a bunch of tiny, short legged guys, getting caught from behind.
In five college seasons, Covey posted 4 punt return touchdowns on 92 attempts, racking up 1,092 yards for an average of 11.9. No Eagles player had college numbers anywhere near that, and they’ve been worse as pros. Covey also averaged 25 yards on 33 kick returns, but with all the touchbacks in today’s NFL, the punt numbers are far more significant.
As a receiver, he’s kind of in the mold of Raiders WR Hunter Refrow, just smaller. Like Refrow, Covey does his damage in the Slot; is fearless in traffic; and understands how to settle into another receivers wake to give his QB a clean target. At least that was his game in college. We don’t need him to be a starter, but if he can be a 5th WR, we’d be golden.
So we should take a long look at him. No need to rush, but try to develop this kid a little. Because if he can give us a PR/KR/WR, then he’s more than worth one roster spot. In fact, at that point I think the five WR’s we keep are Devonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal, and Covey. And if Covey doesn’t pan out, I guess we keep… Ward?