Eagles Better Find a Cornerback Early in Draft

Daniel Jeremiah believes high-level CBs will be gone by the end of day two and gives  names Philly should file away after missing badly at the position in 2017
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The bill has come due for the Eagles' misses on cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas just four years ago.

Once again, the Eagles need to replenish the position, and based on the way the 2021 NFL Draft shakes out, it looks like they will need to invest an early pick on at least one.

“There’s a really good group of corners in round two, and then after that, it really starts to drop off on my list,” said NFL draft expert and a former scout for the Eagles, Daniel Jeremiah during a zoom call on Tuesday afternoon. 

“When all is said and done teams looking for corners, they're going to all go, so you'd better get on that ride early in the first or second round.”

The Eagles should be passengers on that CB ride and hope, this time, they need to choose more wisely than in 2017 when a second-rounder was burned on Jones and third-rounder on Douglas. Both were cut out of training camp last year.

So, who could be there in the second or third rounds, where they own picks 37, 70, and 84?

To arrive at the answer, it’s best to see who won’t be.

Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley and Alabama’s Patrick Surtain won’t be. Neither, probably, will South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn or Northwestern’s Greg Newsome.

“I think it's those four guys, and to me, there's a little bit of a drop-off where you have some more questions on the guys after that big four,” said Jeremiah.

The Georgia tandem of Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes could be there at No. 37.

“Both those guys are big and fast,” said Jeremiah. “Eric Stokes the other day, everybody saw the training; he was running like the 4.2s. So, both those guys, one was a state champ in Georgia in high school, the other was a state champ in Florida. Those are big-time size, speed corners that I think you'll see come on the board there in the second round.”

Campbell and Stokes are similar to the Alabama receiver duo of DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle in that they are close in evaluations.

“I think it's kind of a flavor thing with Waddle and DeVonta Smith,” said Jeremiah. “Waddle gives you a little bit more juice, but DeVonta Smith plays plenty fast, as well.

“DeVonta Smith is a pristine route runner. He obviously as everybody knows is real thin. He is really long-armed and can go up and get it as well.

“I just thought what you get after the catch with some of the shiftiness and then just the home run speed with Waddle is why I ended up with Waddle over Smith.”

The Eagles will need a corner to pair with Darius Slay in 2021 and maybe another one to replace Slay in 2022 since he is now just on the other side of 30. There was a school of thought this offseason that Slay might be traded, but he agreed to contract restructure that saved the Eagles close to $10 million on the salary cap, so he’s not going anywhere at least this year.

Perhaps the Eagles like the flavor of Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr, who is the son of former Eagles CB Asante Samuel.

“I was around his dad when I was working with the Eagles, and you see the movement stuff is eerily similar,” said Jeremiah. “Just out of their pedal they look exactly the same. Just really good eyes to just plant, drive, anticipate throws. He's really, really comfortable and good in zone coverage. I love him there.

“Some of the deep speed and just the overall explosiveness is a little bit of the question there. No question about his toughness whatsoever.”

Jeremiah compared the knocks on Samuel to those of safety Antoine Winfield, who was drafted by Tampa Bay with the 45th overall pick last year, made 16 starts, and helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl as a rookie.

“You kind of could try and ding Winfield on his lack of size or this, that, or the other and be like, I don't know, this guy just grew up around the game,” said Jeremiah. “His dad was a great player. He's always around the football.

“And we saw the Antoine Winfield, Jr., the impact he made with the Bucs. I think this is the same type of situation with Assante Samuel where you can try and nit-pick him and ding him. He's not the biggest, probably not going to be the fastest. He's just a really, really good football player. So. I think he's around two, middle-late round 2 is where I kind of have him. Maybe round 3; a chance he slides down there, but I don't think he gets out of day two.”

Other day two corners mentioned by Jeremiah included:

  • Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky. “Really, really fluid, athletic,” said Jeremiah. “He's got great ball skills. He's one of those guys that got torched by (Kyle) Pitts, but I'm not going to hold that against him.”
  • Aaron Robinson, Central Florida. “Primarily played inside there, but real tough, physical, aggressive. Easy, easy speed.”

There are others to be sure, and the Eagles should know who they are, who fits, and who they will take – unlike 2017 when they swung and missed twice.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.