By Dylan MacKinnon
Two weeks ago we looked at WR, last week at the O Line, and now, we will take a look at Cornerback. Should the Eagles forego offense, and instead sure up their defensive backfield with a second star corner to go with Darius Slay? Let’s take a look at the Eagles need at CB.
Slay a Stud
It is important to mention the Eagles do have at least one star corner. Yes Slay struggled vs DK Metcalf and Davante Adams. But those are basically the only two guys who could do anything on him all year. He held every other WR he faced under 50 yards, and most of them under 40 or even 30. He had two bad games where he was allegedly dealing with some serious pain. Slay is exactly what they traded for him to be.
The Eagles allowed 237.4 passing yards per game. That ranks 15th in the NFL. In 2019 they allowed 246.1 yards per game, which ranked 22nd. They were 30th in 2018. On paper that looks okay for this year, but that number may be slightly skewed by how good the pass rush was, and the fact they were often trailing meaning teams ran the ball more.
If you want to judge the secondary individually, they allowed a pass rating against of 102.4. That ranks 28th in the NFL. They were one of only 5 teams with a passer rating against of over 100. In both the previous seasons they were under 100, and ranked top 20 both years.
For reference, they ranked 10th in the stat in 2017 when they won the Super Bowl. Since the 2003 season, only three teams have won Super Bowls without being in the top 10 in that stat. Here are the last 17 winners and how they performed in that stat. This is as far back as I could find this stat recorded.
This year the Eagles ranked 28th in opponent passer rating against. Since 2003 only 3 teams have won a Super Bowl without being in the top 10 of that stat. Here are the last 17 pic.twitter.com/y1kgbL6GGZ— Dylan MacKinnon (@DylanFMackinnon) January 19, 2021
Only the Giants and Colts fall outside the top 10. None of them had a passer rating against over 90.0. Ten of them were under 80. The teams that win, generally have a very good secondary.
The Eagles had only 8 interceptions, the 4th least in the league. Of those 8, only one was by a cornerback. Seven of the top 10 teams in interceptions made the playoffs this year. Only two of the bottom 10 made the playoffs. The last 3 Super Bowl teams all ranked top 10 in interceptions.
The two names that will be most mentioned at Corner for the Eagles with the first round pick are Patrick Surtain II of Alabama and Caleb Farley of Virginia Tech. Based where draft experts are projecting to go them to go, both should be there if the Eagles want to select them at 6. They could even be there if the Eagles want to trade down a bit. Both are big tall corners known for their physical play.
No one can say that cornerback is not a need for the Eagles. It’s clear from the past 20 years that a strong pass defense is key to being a Super Bowl Contender. You also need a defense that can force turnovers. The Eagles secondary did neither of those things this year. The only question is do you use pick 6 to address cornerback.