Leading up to the NFL Draft this past April, many pundits expected the Eagles to take a cornerback pretty high, possibly with their first round pick. Corner has been a huge weakness in Philly for years, and in a cornerback class as deep as this one, filling that hole felt like a top priority.
Howie Roseman only took one cornerback when the draft was all said and done, Texas Tech CB Zech McPhearson in the fourth round. Fast forward to today, and now the Eagles have two cornerbacks from this stout class, acquiring UCF’s Tay Gowan in the Zach Ertz trade on Friday.
Gowan was someone I had my eye on leading up to the draft. His length and physicality immediately jump off the screen, along with his speed. Physically speaking, Gowan may have been in the top three or five of the most physically gifted corners in this past year’s draft class.
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What really held Gowan back from being a higher draft pick was his limited experience. He spent some time at the JUCO level and he finished his collegiate career with just 13 FBS games under his belt. He then opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, which ultimately hurt his draft stock even more.
Regardless, he made the most out the playing time he saw at UCF.
In single coverage, Gowan allowed a passer rating of 26.2 when targeted, good for second-best in all of college football in 2019. In the same year, he only allowed 40% of the passes thrown into his coverage to get completed. Overall, Gowan gave up two touchdowns along with snagging two interceptions and he allowed 274 passing yards against him.
Not to mention he also only allowed 12 first downs in coverage over his 13 starts.
Pro Football Focus handed Gowan an overall grade of 81 for his 2019 efforts and designated him as a second round talent entering the 2021 NFL Draft. But even PFF recognized that his biggest red flag was his experience.
It’s hard for NFL evaluators to accurately scout players with such a small sample size. Nevertheless, Gowan did lineup in a lot of NFL coverages during his career at UCF. He saw 81 coverage snaps in press man coverage during the 2019 season, and as the stats above show, he more than held his own.
With Gowan being a fifth round pick and not getting a single regular season snap during his short lived stint with the Arizona Cardinals, I understand feeling underwhelmed by his acquisition. But rest assured, he has all the tools to become a solid starting corner in the NFL. Fans should be excited to watch this young man develop here in Philly.