The Philadelphia Eagles addressed their most critical off-season need by signing receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. However, the Eagles still have work to do before they can become legitimate contenders in the NFC East. Philadelphia’s defense improved dramatically under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, but the Eagles still struggled against opposing passers. Years of “band-aid” free agency additions at cornerback have never yielded positive results. In fact, the last time the Eagles drafted a corner in the first round, Donovan McNabb was only in his fourth season. Simply put, the Eagles must take a reliable corner in the first round in this year’s draft.
The Philadelphia Eagles Should Draft Tre’Davious White
There are plenty of options to choose from in the 2017 draft. Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore is widely regarded as the top prospect, but he also dealt with hamstring injuries throughout his collegiate career. Drafting a potentially injury-prone corner is not the best way to remedy a position group that’s struggled for years. Washington’s Sidney Jones is in a similar boat after recently tearing his Achilles tendon. There is no guarantee that Jones can recover his speed and quickness once he returns.
Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey is another top prospect, but can be a liability in deep ball coverage. Considering the Eagles face some great deep ball receivers in the the NFC East, they cannot afford to draft a corner that can’t cover down range. Instead, why not take a corner that has proven coverage skills across the entire field. Tre’Davious White, who started all four years at LSU, may offer the most complete package.
A Fantastic Technician with Great Eyes
While not the best athlete, White is a fantastic technician with great eyes and instincts. He has effectively covered NFL-caliber receivers like Amari Cooper; which suggests he has the skills to at least be a challenge against the likes of Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., and now Terrelle Pryor. The Eagles haven’t had a corner that could matchup with top receivers like these in years.
White also displays a great level of patience when engaging in coverage. He rarely commits prematurely and his responsiveness allows him to readjust quickly when he does. However, White’s most important quality may simply be his ability to stay on the field. In four years, White missed one game. The Eagles could use that kind of reliability; especially considering how often they’ve dealt with secondary injuries over the last two seasons.
Many NFL scouts don’t see White as a day-one starter on the outside as his lack of physicality could place him on a snap count. However, considering the Eagles’ current starters at corner are Ron Brooks and Jalen Mills, White could potentially earn a role just by pedigree. Otherwise, White can play in the slot; which will allow Malcolm Jenkins to play in his more natural role at safety. White does have some drawbacks here, particularly his lack of physicality; but he would still improve the overall effectiveness of the secondary. It’s also worth mentioning that Mills and White played together at LSU, so that chemistry could be an added bonus.
Ultimately, Tre’Davious White could have an immediate impact on the overall effectiveness of the Eagles’ defense.