Let’s get it back to the Eagles.
Today ESPN put out the results of a NFL survey that involved “more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players.“ The point was to rank the top ten players at various positions.
We’ve heard all summer about how the Eagles stink, and they’re rebuilding, and the roster has a lot of holes. They’ve landed near the bottom of some lists put together by national sites and pundits. But in this particular exercise, anonymous responders ranked Darius Slay the ninth-best NFL corner, and the accompanying blurb goes like this:
Most teams agree Slay isn’t a top-five guy anymore, but they do expect a bounce-back year after an uneven first season in Philadelphia.
“When he’s high-motor, he’s dangerous,” an NFC coach said. “When something goes wrong or if he’s in a funk, he can be a liability.”
Pro Football Focus moved Slay outside of the top-20 corners for 2021 after producing a 62.9 rating last season. He also failed to crack the top 20 in completion percentage allowed as the nearest defender. But he has plenty of pedigree with 20 interceptions and 110 pass deflections, and he should have at least one more high-level year left.
“Philly didn’t exactly help him last year,” an AFC scout said. “They put him on an island and he probably didn’t have enough support.”
Slay more or less admitted that he could have been better in 2020. To be fair, nobody on the Birds had a stellar season, and Jim Schwartz checked out after the miserable campaign. We should all be interested in seeing how new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon approaches the job, and if they do some different things schematically with the defensive backfield.
The Birds are gonna need a good year from Slay. They’ve got nothing behind him, not unless they want to go out and sign Steven Nelson. After Slay, CB 2 is one of Avonte Maddox, Craig James, or Zech McPhearson, so it’s slim pickings as of 7/8/21.
For some context, the top 10 from the ESPN poll:
- Jalen Ramsey
- Marlon Humphrey
- Xavien Howard
- Stephon Gilmore
- Tre’Davious White
- Jaire Alexander
- Marshon Lattimore
- Denzel Ward
- J.C. Jackson