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#EaglesCamp Preview: Safety

Posted Aug 1, 2015

In the days leading up to Training Camp, we will take a look at the most pressing questions facing each position group. Today, we conclude our series with the safeties ...

A Look At The Safeties
Name Age Exp. Note
Jerome Couplin 23 2 Great size and length. Prime opportunity for young prospect.
Malcolm Jenkins 27 7 QB of the secondary and one of team's most important pieces.
Chris Maragos 28 6 Special teams ace. Never count out this underdog.
Chris Prosinski 28 5 Vastly underrated addition to special teams. Knows defense.
Walter Thurmond 27 6 The front-runner entering Training Camp.
Ed Reynolds 23 1 Spent 2014 on practice squad. Understands NFL game.
Jaylen Watkins 23 2 Can play corner and safety. Will he stand out in second camp?
Earl Wolff 25 3 Is the knee ready to go? Will make battle interesting if it is.

1. Who Will Start Alongside Malcolm Jenkins?

This is one of the biggest questions for the entire team that must be answered during Training Camp.

Walter Thurmond enters as the front-runner. The Eagles signed the veteran corner in free agency and asked him to make the transition to safety. The decision was a no-brainer for Thurmond, who is in Philadelphia on a one-year deal. Thurmond has the instincts, range and smarts to play center field. His experience as a nickel will help in the box. He impressed during the spring.

What's the issue then? He's listed at 190 pounds. Every other safety is at least 200 pounds. Will Thurmond, who only played one game last season due to injury, hold up over time?

If not Thurmond, then who? The X-factor to watch is Earl Wolff. The third-year safety started six games as a rookie and showed promise before a knee injury slowed him down. He played just seven games last year before going on Injured Reserve to have microfracture surgery. He wasn't able to get on the field in the spring. Is he ready to go?

Jerome Couplin has great size (6-2, 215) and athleticism for the position. He's nicknamed the osprey because of his 81-inch wingspan. He made the Lions' opening day roster as a rookie free agent last season and played in eight games. Couplin spent the final month of the year with the Eagles. He earned some first-team reps during the spring.

Jaylen Watkins was the first pick of the fourth round in 2014 because of his ability to play both cornerback and safety. He saw time at both positions this spring. Chris Maragos and Chris Prosinski are special teams stalwarts. Maragos is a savvy veteran who saw time in the spring with the first-team unit and can play in a pinch. Prosinski started for half of a season in Jacksonville. He’s no stranger to action on defense. Second-round pick Eric Rowe played safety for his first three seasons at Utah, but has been exclusively a cornerback to this point in the NFL so don’t expect him here.

Thurmond is in the pole position entering Training Camp, but will have to hold off a slew of contenders to maintain the starting spot.

2. Just How Valuable Is Jenkins?

No one blamed the Eagles for allowing Nate Allen walk in free agency. Even though Allen was coming off his best season, the reported four-year, $23 million offered by the Raiders was simply too steep of a price tag. This highlights how hard it is to find competent safety play in the NFL.

The Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins from the New Orleans Saints in free agency prior to the 2014 season. Jenkins became the quarterback of the secondary and one of the team's veteran leaders. He was the epitome of the versatile chess piece that the Eagles covet. Jenkins responded with career highs in tackles and interceptions.

In our weekly feature, The Big Question, we debated who the most indispensable Eagle is. Bo Wulf made the compelling case for Jenkins because of what he means to the secondary and the question marks at the position if he was removed from the equation. The secondary got a much-needed overhaul after allowing a league-worst 72 passes of 20+ yards in 2014. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic with the additions of Byron Maxwell, Rowe and new coaches Cory Undlin and Matt Harper. Losing someone of Jenkins' caliber would be a massive blow to the overhaul.

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