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April 20, 2019

Eagles 2019 NFL Draft preview: Cornerback

Eagles NFL
042019DeandreBaker Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports

Georgia's Deandre Baker is a corner who possess many of the traits Jim Schwartz values.

Leading up to the draft, we're taking a look at each of the Philadelphia Eagles' positional groups. We'll determine if the Eagles are likely to select a player at that position with one of their seven picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, as well as note some players who make sense.

Previous draft preview positional analysis

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Offensive tackle | Interior OL

Defensive end | Defensive tackle | Linebacker

Today we'll continue on with cornerback. In case you missed it in our article titled, "The Eagles' top 10 options with their first round pick," we laid out the pros and cons of the Eagles selecting a cornerback with a premium resource in this draft (which we'll copy and paste here for your convenience).

If you're a close follower of the Eagles and watch all their games, you'd know that they had an absurd number of injuries in the secondary, which contributed heavily to their struggles against the pass. In fact, the five corners on the roster at the start of the season -- Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, and Avonte Maddox -- missed a combined 35 games in 2018. Not to mention, starting safety Rodney McLeod, and his replacement, Corey Graham, missed a combined 18 games on top of that.

If you just caught a handful of widely viewed games like the ones where DeVante Bausby, Chandon Sullivan, and an obviously hobbled Jones were getting lit up by the Saints and Cowboys, you might go, "OMG, their corners suuuuuuck." And that has to be the reason so many mock drafts have the Eagles selecting a corner, right?

Otherwise, it really doesn't make a lot of sense. 

The Eagles have drafted four cornerbacks in the last three years, all of whom are still with the team. They are as follows:

Year Player (Age)Round Games (starts) 
 2018Avonte Maddox (22) 13 (9) 
 2017Sidney Jones (22)10 (4) 
 2017Rasul Douglas (24)30 (12) 
 2016Jalen Mills (24)39 (25) 

• Mills has had his struggles against the deep ball, but he's a physical tackler and has provided good coverage in the red zone.

• Maddox had an outstanding rookie season, playing outside corner, slot corner, and safety, oftentimes at a high level.

• Douglas had a bad start to the season when he was forced to play due to injuries, but he rebounded and played very good football down the stretch.

• Jones was OK before his hamstring flared up, and he wasn't the same thereafter. He has to prove he can stay on the field, but he has at least shown flashes of talent.

• The Eagles also added Cre'Von LeBlanc (24) during the season, who turned out to be one of the pleasant surprises for the 2018 Eagles, filling in at the slot corner spot.

• And then of course there's Darby (25), who was a surprise re-signing by the team a couple weeks ago.

There are no star players above by any stretch, but that's six young corners, some of whom have untapped potential, who are locks to make the roster. 

There should be some corners lingering at the end of the first round, but if the Eagles were to take one, they would then have seven corners. 6 + 1 = 7. That's a lot of corners. #Math. Which of the above corners currently on the roster would they then try to trade for 50 cents on the dollar? 

On the other hand, it is worth noting that Mills, Darby, and LeBlanc are all slated to become free agents in 2020, and the Eagles do value the position. They have also brought in a few corners on pre-draft visits.

Here are 5 cornerbacks who make sense for the Eagles

Byron Murphy, Washington (5'11, 190)

Washington has churned out a lot of defensive backs in recent years (Sidney Jones among them), and Murphy is the next in line. Murphy possesses inside-outside versatility, which the Eagles value, as well as outstanding ball skills. In just 20 career games at UW, Murphy had 6 picks and 20 pass breakups. Those are impressive numbers.

On the downside, if you're taking a corner in the first round, you'd like to see good athletic/size measurables, and Murphy doesn't have them. 

Bleh. But certainly, he is a very good football player if you can get past his lack of physical gifts. A highlight reel:

Murphy was a popular pick for the Eagles in mock drafts. As far as the Eagles taking a corner in the first round, if there were a corner who somehow fell far further than he should and is truly the best player available, then sure, maybe you ignore the fact you already have six corners and just take the stud player. 

Murphy is good, but I don't think he's that. If he's there in Round 2, by all means, go get him. 

Projected round: 1-2

Deandre Baker, Georgia (5'11, 193)

Baker was a standout corner for the Bulldogs, who is being projected by some as a first round pick. Here's a highlight reel. I love the first play that they show.

According to, Baker allowed just 9 completions and 1 TD on 34 targets in 2017. He had 3 interceptions. He 2018, he allowed 10 completions and no TDs on 27 targets, and 2 interceptions.

Baker is also a very good tackler. In 2017, he had 44 tackles, and only had 4 missed tackles, a good ratio for a corner. In 2018, he had 40 tackles and no missed tackles, again, according to

Baker is a competitive player that Jim Schwartz will surely like. However, he's on the smaller side, and he ran a below average 4.52 at the Combine.

I can't see the Eagles taking Baker in Round 1, but if he's still there in Round 2, I can absolutely see the Eagles taking him, an overload of corners or not.

Projected round: 1-2

Isaiah Johnson, Houston (6'2, 208)

At 6'2, 208, with a 4.4 40, Johnson is a height-weight-speed freak. However, he's raw. Johnson was a receiver his first two seasons at Houston, but flipped over to corner for his last two. As such, he is thought of as an inconsistent player, but one with a high ceiling.

A highlight reel: 

For the Eagles' purposes, Johnson makes sense as a developmental prospect. In the meantime, before he carves out a role in the regular defense, Johnson is thought of as a very good player on special teams. Most analysts have Johnson as a Day 3 prospect. I'll respectfully disagree. 6'2 corners with 4.4 speed don't often get past Round 3.

Projected round: 3

Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt (6'4, 211)

The appeal with Williams is obviously his size, at 6'4, 211, and it's notable that Cory Undlin went to Vanderbilt's pro day. Williams, Johnson (above), and Amani Oruwaiye (below) are all corners who are 6'2 or taller that the Eagles have looked at during the pre-draft process. That is a trend.

Williams ran a 4.64 at the Combine, so his speed is an issue. By comparison, Rasul Douglas ran a 4.59, and he had 8 INTs his final season at WVU vs. 4 for Williams. That said, like Douglas, Williams is a good tackler and is capable of making big plays on the football. Here he is against Ole Miss' talented group of receivers:

Williams faced a bunch of wide receivers who will be drafted next week, so there will be no concerns about his level of competition. In my view, Williams is a lesser version of Douglas who could be overdrafted. I think he should go on Day 3, but will go sooner.

Projected round: 3

Amani Oruwariye, Penn State (6'2, 205)

Oruwariye fits the profile of a bigger corner that the Eagles have brought in under Schwartz, similar to Douglas and Daryl Worley. Like Douglas, he also had good ball skills in college, as he had 7 INTs and 18 pass breakups the last two seasons at Penn State. You can see him play the ball here: 

Oruwariye had a solid Combine, and could possibly sneak into the third round of the draft. If he lasts until Round 4, that would be good value.

Projected round: 3-4

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