SILVER linings, right? Last year in 2018, our Secondary was decimated by a vicious injury bug that resulted in having to start 13 different players over the course of 16 regular season games. While that wasn’t a good thing, it worked itself into a very long-lasting positive. It forced our young Secondary players to grow up fast. Especially at CB.
The seeds of last year’s efforts are already producing fruit. It’s great that we get back CB Ronald Darby from a mid-season blown ACL, CB Jalen Mills from a mid-season foot injury, and CB Sidney Jones from late season hamstring strain. Even better however, is the fact that CB Rasul Douglas and CB Avonte Maddox are openly challenging for the spots that they effectively manned last year.
Let’s not forget about reserve CB’s Cre’Von LeBlanc, and free agent signee Blake Countess. LeBlanc has proven dangerous, and quick study as a Nickel here. Countess has a few starts for the Rams, but not in our system. So it remains to be seen if he takes well to it.
Still, that puts us six CB’s deep, with a seventh possible. Four of whom (Darby, Mills, Douglas and Maddox) can be referred to as big game tested, legit starters in this league. Name another team that can boast that.
That’s not to say that 2019 doesn’t bring a few question marks with it.
Sidney Jones has struggled to stay healthy since before we drafted him. He has yet to be 100% since becoming a pro. A lot of his struggles can clearly be traced back to him not yet trusting his body’s recovery. The hope is that it doesn’t permanently damage his confidence. Can he finally justify the second round pick the Eagles bestowed upon him?
Jalen Mills is a better Nickle than outside Corner because he has trouble with true speed. Also his tackling degenerated to that of an ankle-biter, when he plays on the edge. He’s an emotional spark plug though, and every good Secondary has to have one or two of those. Mills was the Starter when he went down. Will Mills start on the outside in 2019?
Ronald Darby’s stock in trade is his ability to turn and run with true speed. However, coming off a second serious injury in two years (2017 broken leg, 2018 torn ACL), you have to wonder how much of his ability to accelerate and gear down RELIABLY, still remains.
This is football. You don’t have it back, until you prove that you do. Does Darby still have the speed that sets him apart, or he just average now?
The odds on favorites at starter are Darby and Jones, right now. However, Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox have been turning heads in Mini-Camp. True, it’s shorts and no real contact. It’s just glorified catch, meant to wake the body up, introduce new concepts, and integrate new players. Still, when given the opportunity to show out, you should show up, and these young guys are.
Again, if Countess pans out we could end up with seven bonafide players here. The Eagles will likely only keep six, possibly squirreling Maddox away under the FS position (since it’s what he played before last year forced him to change that). In any case, we are COVERED at Cornerback.