Over the next four weeks, I’ll be counting down the 20 most important Eagles for the 2020 season.
20. Nate Sudfeld
19. Avonte Maddox
The Eagles this offseason went out and traded for Darius Slay with the hopes that he’ll be the kind of Pro Bowl cornerback they haven’t had since Asante Samuel nearly a decade ago.
So Slay will be the Eagles’ No. 1 corner and will likely travel with some of the NFL’s top receivers when the Eagles face them. But having a shutdown corner on one side makes CB2 an important position. If teams don’t want to throw at Slay, guess who they’re throwing at.
While there’s no guarantee Maddox will win the second starting corner job, he certainly seems to have an advantage over Sidney Jones, especially without OTAs this offseason.
So if Maddox shows up at training camp and has first crack at that CB2 job, he’s probably going to win it.
Maddox, 24, was a fourth-round pick in 2018 and during his NFL career has played outside corner, nickel corner and free safety. While his most natural position is probably nickel corner, the Eagles have Nickell Robey-Coleman and Cre’Von LeBlanc to hold down that position. So expect Maddox to be the corner starting opposite of Slay.
At 5-foot-9, Maddox doesn’t seem to have the prototypical size for a starting outside corner, but that doesn’t seem to bother the Eagles too much. In March, GM Howie Roseman talked up Maddox and said he shared many characteristics with Darrell Green and Aaron Glenn, who both had tremendous NFL careers as cornerbacks who were also 5-foot-9.
During his career, Maddox has had some very good moments and some bad ones. But Jim Schwartz really seems to like his toughness and his versatility and will probably have no problem penciling him in as the Eagles’ No. 2 corner.
Last year, according to PFF, Maddox was targeted 66 times. He gave up 42 catches for 480 yards and 2 touchdowns. The passer rating against him was 95.5. So not terrible but not great either. Maddox needs to find more consistency to be a solid second corner for the Birds.
Another important part of being the No. 2 corner with a No. 1 that travels is the ability to play on both sides of the field. In his career, Maddox has taken 431 snaps at outside corner and just 54 of them have come on the right side. In the wild card game against Seattle, he played 53 snaps on the right side and had one of the worst-graded games in his career, giving up 4 catches on 5 targets for 102 yards.
That doesn’t mean Maddox can’t hold down the CB2 job, but there are also some reasons to at least be a little cautious with your optimism. If Slay plays to the level everyone expects and Maddox can find some consistency, the Eagles’ secondary could be much better in 2020.
Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast:
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.