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Training Camp Position Preview: Safety

Reed Blankenship
Reed Blankenship

More change for the Eagles, with 2022 starters Marcus Epps (Las Vegas) and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (Detroit) moving on in free agency. How will it all play out here? We're going to find out after a competitive spring. Reed Blankenship not only made the roster as one of three undrafted rookies, he played in 10 games, started four, and saw a rookie-high 291 total snaps from the line of scrimmage in the regular season. Blankenship is a candidate to start, as is veteran Terrell Edmunds, a former first-round draft pick who started the last five seasons in Pittsburgh. Justin Evans will also compete for playing time after recovering from a significant knee injury and playing well last season for New Orleans. K'Von Wallace is here to serve notice in his fourth season after playing well in 2022. The Eagles are also high on fourth-round draft pick Sydney Brown, a five-year starter at Illinois. Tristin McCollum is a rangy player who was very productive at Sam Houston State and joined the Eagles following the 2023 NFL Draft. – Dave Spadaro

Did You Know?

• Reed Blankenship had a memorable prime-time game against Green Bay, becoming the first undrafted rookie to intercept then-Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the November 27 Eagles victory.

• K'Von Wallace recorded eight total tackles, seven unassisted, in his lone 2022 start when the Eagles defeated Chicago on December 18.

What Does the Film Show?

The Eagles will introduce a pair of new starters at safety in 2023, with two returning backups (Reed Blankenship and K'Von Wallace) competing for jobs this summer alongside a pair of offseason additions (Terrell Edmunds and Sydney Brown).

Blankenship made a splash last fall as an undrafted free agent with the Eagles, earning a spot on the 53-man roster out of camp and playing his way into a pivotal reserve role and spot starter by midseason. He was a player that I've had eyes on for a long time, however, going back to his college days at Middle Tennessee State. There, Blankenship proved year after year to be an extremely reliable player on the back end. Just how dependable? If I needed a guy to make a tackle one-on-one in the flat ... I was calling Reed's name. – Fran Duffy

New to the Nest

Sydney Brown – Selected in the same draft as his twin brother, Brown spent five years at Illinois where he started 50 of 51 games. The London, Ontario native recorded 10 interceptions in college with six coming in his final season, ranking him third nationally. He recorded 319 total tackles, 186 of them were solo. Brown was a three-time All-Big Ten selection and a 2022 All-America honoree. Brown's family lived in an estimated 20 homes before settling in Bradenton, Florida where he made his name at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School. 

Terrell Edmunds – Before signing with the Eagles this offseason, Edmunds spent his first five years with the Steelers. He has racked up 405 tackles, five sacks, and five interceptions in 79 games. The former first-round pick has two games of playoff experience. Terrell is one of three Edmunds brothers to play in the NFL. He and his younger brother, Tremaine, became the first pair of brothers to be drafted in the first round of the same NFL draft. Ferrell Edmunds, Terrell's dad, was a Pro Bowl tight end with the Dolphins. A multimedia journalism major at Virginia tech, Edmunds wrote a children's book with his two brothers that promotes treating others with respect.  

Justin Evans – Selected in the second round of the 2017 draft, Evans spent time with the Buccaneers and Saints. He recorded 105 tackles and four interceptions, three of those coming in his rookie season. Evans didn't see the field between 2019-21 after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. He played in 15 games last season with the Saints and registered 26 tackles and a forced fumble. Evans was a versatile athlete in college, playing quarterback and wide receiver, while also being a standout baseball player.  

Tristin McCollum – McCollum joined the Eagles after spending last season on the Texans' practice squad. McCollum was a four-year starter at Sam Houston State. In 57 games, he tallied 229 tackles, four sacks, and three interceptions. In 2021, he helped lead Sam Houston State to an FCS National Championship. McCollum's identical twin brother, Zyon, was drafted by the Buccaneers in the 2022 NFL Draft. – Owen Boyle

Check out the safeties on the Eagles' roster heading into Training Camp, presented by Independence Blue Cross. Players are listed in numerical order.

Key Stats

81.5 – According to Pro Football Focus, Blankenship posted the seventh-highest grade in zone coverage amongst safeties last season (81.5). The then-rookie safety allowed just a 60 percent completion rate in zone coverage (tied for seventh lowest at the position) while netting a pick of quarterback Aaron Rodgers on his first defensive play in the NFL.

89 – According to NextGen Stats, Brown earned the highest athleticism score (89) of any safety in the 2023 NFL Draft.  

They Said It

"Nothing has changed. I love the game and I'm gonna play it as long as my body allows me to. Rent is due every day, that's what (Nick) Sirianni talks about. No matter what position you're in. I haven't felt like I've arrived yet. I'm still staying humble, staying healthy. That's gonna last throughout my career." – Reed Blankenship

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