Head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman are among the Eagles at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. As the Eagles scout the players who will be available in April's NFL Draft, we near the end of our Offseason Preview series with the safety position ...
End Of Season Depth Chart: Colt Anderson was known as one of the best special teams players in the league, but he earned an opportunity to start in the Week 14 win over Tampa Bay when Kurt Coleman was sidelined with a chest injury. After his eight-tackle performance, which came just a little over a year after his ACL injury, Anderson followed up with an 11-tackle outing and earned a spot in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season on the strong side. In his four starts, Anderson had 36 tackles and an interception. He had two games with 10-or-more tackles. The Eagles took advantage of Anderson's fearlessness and used him as a box defender against the run. Anderson was on the field for just 38 defensive snaps prior to the Tampa Bay game. He saw 260 snaps on defense in the final four games.
Coleman missed the two games with a chest injury, but still finished second on the team with 105 tackles. Coleman had four games with 10-or-more tackles including the Week 16 game against Washington, which was his first game back after the injury. It was also his first game not playing behind the Wide 9 alignment which put an inordinate amount of stress on the safeties. The safeties had significant responsibility to help play the run. There were many times where Eagles fans saw the safeties fly up to help against the run only to watch a receiver go past them.
Third-year safety Nate Allen started in 13 games on the strong side before giving way to Anderson at the end of the year. Allen registered a career-high 81 tackles, but he did not record an interception for the first time in his career. The 6-1, 210-pound Allen is the biggest safety on the roster, but he also had the reputation of playing the best in coverage which is why it was disappointing to not see him record an interception in 2012. Allen, like Coleman, had his share of struggles playing behind the Wide 9 alignment.
David Sims' road to the NFL was a storybook one as he worked on a garbage truck after he graduated high school before landing with the Eagles via a trade on the night of the final roster cutdown from Cleveland. Sims played in 15 games as primarily a special teams player. Due to injury, Sims started in the Week 9 game in New Orleans. Sims battled one of the league's best tight ends in Jimmy Graham, certainly a tough test for even the best safety let alone one making his first start. Graham had eight catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Sims did not get another chance at the starting lineup late in the season, but did finish sixth on the team in special teams production points.
Player To Watch In The Offseason: Nate Allen. The former second-round pick had a promising rookie season ended early due to a knee injury. Allen won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honor in September 2010. He had five interceptions in his first two seasons. At times, he has shown the range to cover the field and to make the key tackle when needed. There is no exact reason why things didn't go as planned for Allen in 2012, but the Eagles have to hope that a fresh start for the franchise can trickle down to a player with potential like Allen.
Free Agent To Be: Anderson was originally signed by the Eagles off of Minnesota's practice squad in 2010. Anderson is a restricted free agent.
Best Performance: Sure, everyone will remember how Browns running back Trent Richardson knocked over Coleman in the season opener, but Coleman actually had the last laugh. Coleman had two interceptions - one in the red zone and one in the final minute to seal the win.
Noteworthy Stat: Anderson's 36 tackles in the final four games - all starts - led the entire team. His 11 tackles vs. Cincinnati were a career high.
Previous Offseason Previews:
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider