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May 26, 2018

Mailbag: If Sidney Jones is 'all that,' isn’t he better outside instead of in the slot?

In our weekly Eagles chat on Wednesday, there were a lot of questions that we could not get to in time or other questions we did answer but could use more color. And so, let's do a mailbag post to answer some of the overflow.

Question from Hugh the King: If Sidney Jones is all that, isn’t he better on the outside instead of the slot?

In his rookie season in 2017, the Saints’ Marshon Lattimore ran away with NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, and he looks like he could be a shutdown corner in the NFL for the next decade. Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, before Sidney Jones ruptured his Achilles, he and Lattimore were generally considered the top two cornerbacks in the draft, in whatever order you preferred.

Jones has a chance to be special, and he is the type of talent who has an unlimited ceiling. There may be a day where the Eagles just say to him, "You're following OBJ everywhere today." On that day, whenever / if ever that day comes, OBJ isn't lining up neatly in the same spot on every down. He's going to be moving all over the formation.

I like the idea of teaching the slot to Jones. Corners use different techniques and leverages inside than they do outside, and the communication with their teammates is a little different. The Eagles are already loaded with outside corners, so why not arm Jones with as many diversified skills as possible?

There aren’t many corners in the NFL that can simply line up against the opposing team’s best receiver and follow him everywhere. By gaining experience in the slot, learning proper technique and leverage, he'll be better armed to take on that kind of assignment in the future, no matter where that receiver lines up.

I don’t know if that is why the Eagles are giving him experience in the slot, but it is a long-term approach that would make sense for a player who has the potential to be “all that.”

Question from Norm Snead: What would it take for you to trade Ronald Darby in terms of a 2019 pick?

A lot. Before we even get to the draft pick compensation, I’d need to see a lot both from Jones and Avonte Maddox. If I thought Jones and Maddox were legitimate NFL corners who can go in and be good players in 2018, then I’d feel good about four of my corners – Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, and Avonte Maddox.

And even then, the offer better be a good one. I would need at least a 3 in return, and it would have to be from a team I thought had a high likelihood of being bad, thus resulting in a high 3. Otherwise, I’d be content to just hang onto him, and if he breaks the bank in free agency next offseason, so be it. Just take the high comp pick in 2020, assuming they lose more players in free agency than they gain in 2019, which I think they will.

Question from SPQR13: Now knowing how the draft played out, assuming all would stay the same, who would you have drafted at 35 had they traded Foles to Cleveland?

Taking a look back, there were a bunch of players like I liked, but none that I loved. My top 10 who were still available, were in no particular order, WR Christian Kirk, WR Courtland Sutton, WR James Washington RB Derrius Guice, RB Nick Chubb, RB Ronald Jones, DE Harold Landry, CB Josh Jackson, OL Connor Williams, and TE Dallas Goedert.

If I had to pick one, I think I would have taken Christian Kirk.

Question from juaniflaco: What do you think Shelton Gibson’s ceiling is? I heard he made some pretty impressive catches (in OTA practice). He’s certainly fast.

I saw him have one nice catch on Tuesday. He extended his hands away from his body and snatched the ball in traffic. He may have had others, but if so, I missed them. Last year, Gibson was a mess. He really struggled catching the football. In fact, I’ve never seen a player have as many drops as he did during the spring and summer.

The Eagles made him active on game day at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. He didn’t play at wide receiver, but he got on the field on special teams. Little things like that can do wonders for a player’s confidence. We’ll see if he can build confidence and show significantly improved hands this year. He’s at least off to an encouraging start.

Question from Robb Gaylord: Which Eagles player do you talk to and just think, by the way they speak and sound, “That guy is an intelligent man.”

I think Malcolm Jenkins is that guy.

Question from Hinkie: I find it at least somewhat interesting that the Eagles didn’t bring in a blocking TE considering how much Brent Celek played last year. Come to think of it, if a blocking TE isn’t important to Doug, and Brent was still playing so many snaps, that’s pretty damning on Trey Burton.

It’s probably a little soon to make a definitive statement on Doug not caring about tight ends who can block, but your point is well taken. Burton was a nice role player, but I can’t believe the Bears gave him what they did. I’m sure the Eagles are thrilled they’ll get a fourth round comp pick in return for losing him.

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