The 2016 season for the Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary was average at best. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod played exceptionally, barely missing a snap of football, while the cornerbacks gave up big play after big play.
The Eagles’ starting cornerbacks on the outside were Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin. Both struggled and had moments where they simply looked overwhelmed. Also playing some snaps was rookie seventh-round pick Jalen Mills.
For the most part, Mills held his own but just like Carroll and McKelvin, he let opposing teams’ wide receivers get behind him for big plays.
Nevertheless, the Eagles decided to cut their losses and released McKelvin earlier in the offseason. They did not re-sign Carroll. With these departures, the Eagles are now looking to solidify the cornerback position in the NFL Draft.
Luckily for the Eagles, this year’s draft class is supposedly deep at cornerback, in comparison to years past.
With five picks in the first four rounds of the NFL draft, the Eagles should be able to come out with at least two cornerbacks to potentially start this upcoming season.
One cornerback that should be on their radar is University of Michigan star Jourdan Lewis. He was a part of a Michigan defense that had a solid front line, featuring potential first-round defensive end Taco Charlton, and played in a secondary with outstanding playmaker safety Jabril Peppers, an elite playmaker.
In 2016, Michigan’s defense allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete only 43.6 percent of their passes for 142.5 yards and an interception per game.
While Charlton and Peppers were garnering all the attention, Lewis had a solid senior season. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound cornerback had 25 total tackles, nine pass deflections, 3.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions in 2016.
When viewing Lewis’ film, the first thing to notice about him is that he can play press coverage on the outside, despite his size. He’s a competitor who is also physically formidable.
He showed off his athleticism this past season against Wisconsin, making a crazy one-handed interception.
Although Lewis made an amazing play, the clip also showed a couple of his weaknesses. At the beginning of the play, Lewis gets beaten off the line of scrimmage and starts grabbing at the wide receiver.
That will get him in trouble in the NFL a majority of the times unless your name is Richard Sherman. In the NFL, if a cornerback starts grabbing a wide receiver past five yards, the referee will throw a flag.
Outside of the grabbing and his size, Lewis rates favorably. He should be available for the Eagles in Round 2, if they use their first-round pick on a wide receiver, running back, or another defensive position.
Lewis would be a solid fit in Jim Schwartz’s defense and could compete for the starting slot cornerback job, especially if the Eagles have different plans for Mills.
All in all, Lewis is just one of many cornerbacks who I believe would work in the Eagles defense. Other cornerbacks I like in this draft outside of the top guys are UCLA’s Fabian Moreau, Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie, and LSU’s Tre’Davious White.
The Eagles cannot go wrong with any of these guys including Lewis. The NFL draft is only a month away, so the organization needs to make sound judgments as it continues to form its hierarchy of draft preferences.