The Eagles told us there would be a competition for the CB2 job opposite Darius Slay but that competition never happened.
Perhaps in a normal offseason, there would have been a competition. But there were no OTAs this year and without preseason games, training camps became all about getting practice reps for starters.
So instead of a competition, Avonte Maddox was named a starting cornerback and the Eagles never looked back. In fact, the Eagles actually released the two guys — Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas — we all thought were Maddox’s biggest competition for that job in the first place.
But 10 games into the 2020 season, there appears to be a pretty apparent need for an upgrade at that outside corner spot and it looks like Maddox is clearly better suited for other spots.
What does Jim Schwartz think?
“We have confidence in him no matter where he is on the field,” Schwartz said on Tuesday. “He's a good, tough football player. He's had some rough patches this year, but he's also bounced back and had some really good patches. He's probably a lot like our defense and really he had about one bad play in that game, the pass interference, and his eyes got a little bit bad and had to go chase a play and put himself in a tough position on that play. But we have a lot of confidence in Avonte.”
It’s obvious that Schwartz has confidence in Maddox and it’s clear that Maddox’s 5-foot-9 height doesn’t bother Schwartz or GM Howie Roseman. And there’s no questioning Maddox’s toughness and scrappiness.
But the results just haven’t been there.
This season, Maddox has missed some time with injury, but he has played in seven games with five starts. He hasn’t recorded an interception and has just two pass breakups. He has been targeted 38 times and has given up 24 catches (63.2%) for 330 yards and a touchdown. With Slay on the other side, Maddox has given up a reception once every 8.0 coverage snaps and is being targeted every 5.1 coverage snaps.
ProFootballFocus ranks Maddox as the 119th best cornerback (out of 125 qualified) in the NFL.
The Eagles drafted Maddox in the fourth round out of Pitt back in 2018 and have asked him to play multiple positions since then. Early in his career, he played nickel and then safety and now outside corner. Of the three, he has looked most out of place as an outside cornerback.
Maddox in 2021 will be in the final year of his four-year rookie contract and it would behoove the Eagles to find somebody else to play on the outside.
But the Eagles likely don’t have their future CB2 on the roster right now either. The Eagles have six cornerbacks on the roster or on IR: Slay, Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Craig James, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Michael Jacquet. Do you see the future answer at CB2 in that mix? Probably not, although, we have seen some promise with Jacquet.
The problem here is that the Eagles have really struggled to draft cornerbacks. For a fourth-round pick, Maddox has at least developed into a versatile piece, but I think we’ve seen he’s not good enough to be a starter outside. And the last two corners drafted before that were Jones and Douglas in 2017.
The Eagles have Slay under contract for a few more seasons and they’ll obviously hope he can continue to play at a high level. But it’s imperative they find a guy worthy to play opposite him. As confident as Schwartz says he is in him, it doesn’t look like Maddox is the answer.
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