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Position Preview: Safety

Posted May 8, 2014

A Look At The Cornerbacks
Name Age Exp. Signed Through Note
Nate Allen 26 5 2014 Finally gets to play in familiar scheme.
Malcolm Jenkins 26 6 2016 Imported to be QB of the secondary.
Keelan Johnson 24 1 2016 (RFA) Youngster can prove self in Camp.
Chris Maragos 27 5 2016 Special teamer first, defense second.
Earl Wolff 24 2 2016 Player to watch in second season.

Position Preview

The Big Questions

1. What Impact Will Malcolm Jenkins Have?


The 26-year-old Jenkins was the biggest-ticket signing for the Eagles in free agency and the former Saints defensive captain will immediately be asked to quarterback the secondary for Bill Davis' defense. Jenkins was attractive to the Eagles largely because of his intelligence and versatility. A former cornerback, Jenkins can line up in several roles for the Eagles.

By his own admission, Jenkins will tell you that he hopes to become more of a playmaker on the ball, as he's never had more than two interceptions in a season. But the veteran should bring a steadiness and reliability to a position that has often lacked those qualities for the Eagles over the past few seasons.

For more on what Jenkins brings to Philadelphia, read this informative look at the newest Eagles safety.

2. Who Will Start On The Other Side?

At press time, it would appear that Earl Wolff and Nate Allen will be competing over the second starting safety job. Allen is certainly experienced and has started 54 games for the Eagles since joining the team as a second-round pick in 2010. He re-signed with the Eagles in free agency to take another step forward in a second season under Davis. After all, Allen has rarely had continuity in defensive scheme during his time with the Eagles.

While Allen may be the steady choice, Wolff, the second-year player out of North Carolina State, may offer more upside. The fifth-round pick had some impressive moments in his rookie season, but occasional defensive lapses and injuries hampered the end of his season. Wolff will be one of the more intriguing players to watch throughout the offseason.

Keelan Johnson, meanwhile, would caution you not to overlook him. The former Arizona State standout is coveted by the team and reportedly turned down an offer to join another active roster during the season so that he could remain with the Eagles. He too will have a chance to prove himself. Chris Maragos, meanwhile, was signed primarily to play special teams, but after backing up Earl Thomas in Seattle, there's no telling what he could do on defense.

3. Will There Be Any More Additions?

Numbers-wise, the Eagles will likely need at last one extra safety before heading to Training Camp, but that player may not come via the NFL Draft.

"In terms of the safety class, I don't think it's a good group overall," said general manager Howie Roseman last week. "I think that you're talking about a drop-off certainly when you get to Saturday (rounds 4-7). When we look at our safety group, obviously, we signed Malcolm (Jenkins), and his ability to fit in this defense and be a quarterback back there for our defense. Then Earl (Wolff) and Nate (Allen), we're excited about their ability to make that jump. We talk about athletic tools and what's in their body. Nate's 6-2, he's 215 (pounds), he's finally in the same system for the second year. You have to be able to play fast, you have to be able to not think, and I know it's very hard for a safety going through all those system changes, especially as a young player who didn't really grow up playing the position – he was a quarterback in high school.

"And then Earl, as a rookie, I thought he did a really good job before he got hurt. Then, again, you're talking about a guy who's 215 pounds, runs a 4.4, unbelievable work ethic that's off the charts. We're excited about those guys, and we brought in (Chris) Maragos, as well. That doesn't mean we wouldn't add (a safety in the draft) if it's the best player (available), but at the same time, we expect those guys to take a jump and be better players."

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