It’s no secret the Philadelphia Eagles have a cornerback problem.
After looking like the next Nnamdi Asomugha in 2013, Eagles No. 1 cornerback, Cary Williams, has taken the brunt of the blame for the Philadelphia’s No. 25 pass defense efficiency ranking. The over-matched Williams struggled to matchup against No. 1 NFL wide receivers all year as he finished the season as the 80th ranked corner on Pro Football Focus. Furthermore, his -7.9 grade in pass coverage was fifth from the bottom amongst full-time starting cornerbacks. Williams’ fellow starting cornerback, Bradley Fletcher, performed only slightly better in pass coverage, however, he was often responsible for covering the opponent’s No. 2 wide receiver. Neither Williams nor Fletcher finished 2013 with a positive grade.
If the Eagles are going to make the leap into the upper echelon of NFL teams in 2014, the team must upgrade the cornerback position. Given this clear need, NFL Draft experts have speculated that the Eagles will target the top cornerbacks in the 2014 Draft, Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard or Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert. Either would be a significant upgrade over Williams and Fletcher.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the buzz around Dennard and Gilbert is growing, and it is becoming more likely that neither will be available when the Eagles pick at No. 22. If that scenario unfolds, the Eagles should draft Ohio State CB Bradley Roby. Projected to be a top-10 pick before the college football season started, Roby’s stock has been sliding ever since due to off-the-field concerns and a reputation for lackadaisical play. Evaluating Roby strictly from his game tape and Scouting Combine performance, however, reveals a prospect that fits the profile of a true No. 1 NFL cornerback. Featuring Gilbert’s speed and quickness and Dennard’s size and strength, Roby checks all the boxes. He has the most athleticism and upside of any cornerbacks in this year’s draft class, and if the top corners on the Eagles’ draft board are unavailable at pick No. 22, the team should select Roby with confidence.