Eagles Training Camp: How will loaded cornerback room shape up?

Of all the positions that will be points of interest during Eagles training camp this year, none will have as many bodies as cornerback. As of right now, the Eagles are set to enter camp with 12 corners on their 90-man roster.

  • Darius Slay
  • James Bradberry
  • Avonte Maddox
  • Zech McPhearson
  • Tay Gowan
  • Jimmy Moreland
  • Josiah Scott
  • Kary Vincent Jr.
  • Mac McCain
  • Josh Jobe
  • Mario Goodrich
  • Josh Blackwell

As far as the final 53 is concerned, I would say four of these corners are locks. The top-three are no brainers; Slay, Bradberry, and Maddox will be the main trio of starters. Behind them, second-year corner Zech McPhearson feels like the leader in the clubhouse to be the next man up if one of the starters goes down.

The Eagles fortunately didn’t suffer any major injuries to their cornerback position last season, so McPhearson didn’t see the field a whole lot. He played a total of 179 defensive snaps as a rookie, recording 10 total tackles while allowing a completion percentage of 61.5% and a passer rating of 77.4 on 13 targets. It’s impossible to draw any kind of grand conclusions based off those numbers and such a limited sample size, but McPhearson at least held his own when he was out there. That’s more than we can say about most backup corners throughout the past few seasons.

With the eight remaining corners, they all have a case to make the final roster.

Leading 53-man roster candidates

In my initial 53-man roster predictions, I had the Eagles keeping six corners for opening day. Aside from the top-four we just discussed, the final two that I believe will round out the depth chart are Tay Gowan and Jimmy Moreland.

Let’s take a look at Gowan first, whom the Eagles acquired in the Zach Ertz trade last season. Gowan entered the league as a sixth-round pick last year and didn’t have any playing time outside of the preseason with the team that drafted him, the Arizona Cardinals. His playing time didn’t really increase much when he arrived in Philly, with the exception of garbage time reps and the final meaningless game of the season against the Cowboys.

Still, Gowan presents a lot of potential and has all the tools to, at the very least, be a suitable backup corner in the NFL. Standing at 6-foot-1 with 31-inch arms, Gowan has prototypical size for an NFL corner. His tape at UCF was also impressive, but his draft stock was hindered by his lack of experience, starting just 13 FBS games during his collegiate career. His 2019 outing was the most productive season at UCF. He started all 12 games for the Knights, recording two interceptions and 31 total tackles.

Gowan thrived in single coverage at UCF. In 2019, Gowan allowed a passer rating of just 26.2 when targeted, the second-best mark in all of college football that season. Only 40% of the passes thrown into his coverage were completed as well.

Of all the young corners populating the roster right now, Gowan certainly has the highest upside and will be the most interesting player to watch among them.

Moving onto Moreland, he’s one of the only non-starting corners on the roster who actually has legitimate experience in the NFL. For that alone, he probably has the upper hand in snagging a roster spot.

As a former seventh-round pick for Washington, Moreland saw significant playing time right out of the gates. Over the course of his two-year stint in the nation’s capital, Moreland appeared in 30 games and made 10 starts. In totality, he racked up 86 combined tackles and one interception. Funny enough, that lone interception came against the Eagles in their Week 1 matchup in 2020.

What separates Moreland from the rest of the corners fighting for a roster spot (aside from his experience) is his versatility. With Washington, Moreland spent time on the outside as well as inside at the nickel. He totaled 872 reps in the nickel, 143 on the outside, and 69 in the box.

Whether or not the Eagles keep six guys at corner is yet to be seen, but if they do, Moreland feels like the best option to round out the depth chart.

What about the rest?

Most, if not all, of the remaining corners have a solid shot at earning a spot on the Eagles practice squad.

Aside from the six I believe will make the final roster, we have:

  • Josiah Scott
  • Kary Vincent Jr.
  • Mac McCain
  • Josh Jobe
  • Marion Goodrich
  • Josh Blackwell

Of those six, half of them are undrafted rookies: Jobe, Goodrich, and Blackwell. Of those three, Goodrich has the most impressive resume and received the most guaranteed money ($217,000 to be exact). Given that hefty price tag, there’s a chance Goodrich would claim a roster spot. Teams don’t usually throw that much money at an UDFA unless they have faith he’ll eventually be on the active roster.

At Clemson, Goodrich started 29 games and totaled 60 combined tackles, 5 interceptions, 15 pass breakups, and 1 touchdown. He has a solid NFL frame as well, standing at 6-foot and coming in at 190 pounds.

Both Jobe and Blackwell have some solid physical traits to work with, but neither strike me as legitimate contenders to make the roster. Placing them on the practice squad and giving them ample time to develop their games should be the priority.

Then we have the veterans (if you can even call them that) of the group with Scott, Vincent, and McCain. All three of these corners are best suited in the nickel. If I had to pick one that may make a run at a roster spot, it would be Josiah Scott. He has the most experience of the three and he logged 90 defensive snaps for the Eagles in 2021.

Vincent and McCain will likely still be on the practice squad if they clear waivers, but there’s a chance one or both of them get claimed.

Suffice to say, the cornerback group will be one of the most interesting positions to follow during camp this year.

Head over to foco.com to get your hands on some fresh Eagles gear for the summer. From limited time bobbleheads, to sleek apparel for every major Philly sports team, FOCO has a wide selection of items to fit anyone’s taste. Use promo code FULLSCALE15 at check out to get 15% off all in stock items!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: