Avonte Maddox isn't putting himself in a box. He's always been a smaller guy in a big man's game, so he isn't about to change now that he's reached the NFL. Maddox, a fourth-round draft pick of the Eagles a couple of weeks ago, sees himself as a cornerback, and that's what he's here to be in Jim Schwartz's defense. A cornerback. Not just a slot cornerback.
"I have to learn the inside position and the outside positions," said Maddox, listed at 5-9, 184 pounds. "I have to learn everything – the entire defense, special teams. They play the best players so I have to be at my best to get on the field."
After a terrific career at the University of Pittsburgh, Maddox went through the whole draft process and landed with a team that has a very talented room of young cornerbacks, but no clear choice as the slot corner to replace Patrick Robinson, who signed with New Orleans in free agency.
If Maddox happens to end up in the slot, he's cool with that. Right now, in his first week in the playbook, Maddox is taking everything one meticulous step at a time.
"It's exciting to be part of it with these players and coaches," Maddox said. "I'm here to compete every day and get better. It's up pace and up tempo a little bit. It's the first day in a long time being on a football field doing football things. It's fun. I like to compete and I like to have fun. If you mess up, you learn. That's the game."
Maddox is known for his quickness and his tenacity, two traits Robinson showed in his excellent 2017 season. The Rookie Minicamp weekend is just the first of many, many steps before the pads go on and the veterans line up for Training Camp.
Everything is going to move quickly for Maddox and he's going to have to be exceptional to stand out among a group of young and talented cornerbacks the Eagles have stacked up.
"The competition is going to be great," Maddox said. "I'm all for it. It's what makes you a better player. Competition brings out the best in everybody. I like the pressure on me. I like to learn. I like to compete. When I got here the first thing I did was get in my playbook and write my notes over and over so that when I get out here I have it down.
"I want to play. I'm here to play. I know that I'm out here with the best. I'm going to play smart and I'm going to attack and be tough and competitive. You gotta have that 'dog' mentality. I've been hearing that I'm too small my whole life. I don't even listen to it."