The Eagles traded away all-time great Zach Ertz on Friday and that part of the trade obviously and rightfully dominated headlines.
But the Eagles got back a fifth-round pick and a player: Tay Gowan.
So who is Gowan?
Well, the 23-year-old cornerback was drafted by the Cardinals in the sixth round (No. 223) out of UCF this spring. Gowan made the Cardinals’ roster but has not been active in five games this year.
“In terms of Tay, he's a guy we spent a lot of time with in the draft process,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said. “He was somebody that we would have considered with our sixth-round pick. He was in a group of names. He went right before we picked and he's a long corner. He's got tremendous speed.
“He was an opt-out guy last year. We spent a lot of time with him personally before the draft. And again, it gives us a chance to add a young corner to that room.”
The Eagles made three sixth round picks this year. They passed on Gowan twice early in the sixth round, drafting Marlon Tuipulotu and Tarron Jackson. Later in the round, Gowan went to the Cardinals one spot before the Eagles took JaCoby Stevens. So perhaps Gowan would have landed in Philly if he lasted one more spot.
At 6-1, 186 pounds, Gowan has good size and also good speed. He wasn’t invited to the combine but ran a 4.49 at his pro day. That was probably a disappointing time for him based on his college career.
Gowan had just one season as a starter at a Division 1 program. In 2019, he played in 12 games (9 starts) at UCF. He had 31 tackles, 2 interceptions and 10 passes defensed. Gowan opted out in 2020 after the premature birth of his daughter in July.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had Gowan pegged as a seventh-round pick:
“Outside cornerback who will struggle to stay connected to routes against speed or quality route runners. He does a nice job of crowding underneath routes and has the length and ball instincts to make receivers really work for it on contested catches. Gowan needs to get stronger, but has good size and length to work with. His area of effectiveness will be limited at the next level. He might need to be paired with defenses utilizing more Cover 2 or Cover 3 schemes.”
TheAthletic’s Dane Brugler saw Gowan as a priority free agent:
“He has patient feet and balanced movements in press, but his process is a work in progress and receivers are able to create separation out of their breaks. Gowan is aggressive with the ball in the air and plays through the hands of receivers. He doesn’t lack for physicality, but he struggles to break down and tackle on the move. Overall, Gowan has favorable length, confidence and ball skills, but his average speed and tightness in his transitions will be tough to mask vs. NFL route runners.”
ProFootballFocus was much higher on Gowan:
Tay Gowan was PFF's eighth-ranked cornerback and a top-70 player overall on PFF's Final Big Board for the 2021 NFL Draft after allowing just 40% of the passes into his coverage to be completed in his final season at UCF.
After starting his college career at Miami (Ohio), Gowan spent the 2018 season at the JUCO level at Butler Community College in Kansas. He has a unique story and will be easy to root for.
With the Eagles, Gowan will need to come in and learn a new defense. But on a team without a ton of depth at the cornerback spot, he could end up being a good addition. The Eagles’ top backups at the spot are 2021 fourth-round pick Zech McPhearson and Josiah Scott, who was brought to Philly in a trade after being drafted in the fourth round in 2020 by the Jaguars.
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