The Philadelphia Eagles have been trying to solidify their secondary with temporary fixes and band-aids. Darius Slay came in last year to lock down one side of the field, but the other one continued to be an issue in 2020. Time to change all that.
This year’s draft is ripe with difference-makers at the cornerback position and the Eagles have been heavily linked to two of them: South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) and Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II (6-foot-2, 208 pounds). Both players are sons of former NFL standouts, plus possess the size and athleticism to excel at the professional level. Well, that seemed to be the dominant opinion on them until NBC Sports’ Chris Simms took a torch to Horn’s credentials.
Simms told the Eagle Eye podcast (via NBC Sports Philadelphia) that Horn’s size might be his best NFL trait. He can surely match up against taller guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill but he’s going to struggle in keeping up with their speed. Never mind the fact that Horn ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at his pro day. Surtain did it in 4.40 seconds.
“I’m not the biggest Jaycee Horn fan individually,” Simms told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Listen, I think he’s a good player. Do I sit here and think he’s a top 20 pick? For my money, no, I do not. I do think he’s a holder, a pass interference penalty waiting to happen.”
Take note of South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn:
40-yard dash: 4.37u
Broad jump: 11′ 1″
Vertical jump: 41.5″
— NFL (@NFL) March 24, 2021
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Simms Reveals Final NFL Mock Draft
Simms also revealed his final NFL mock draft on Tuesday and it had many experts scratching their heads. He had three quarterbacks go off the board in the first three picks, followed by stud tight end Kyle Pitts. The Eagles landed Horn at pick No. 12 despite his alarming concerns about the top-rated cornerback.
What really had social media in a pickle was his forecast on Ohio State’s Justin Fields who was thought to be one of the best quarterbacks in the draft. He had Fields going at No. 32 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, presumably to succeed Tom Brady at some point. Simms called Alabama’s Mac Jones the “most NFL ready” quarterback in the draft after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson.
My 2021 Mock Draft…full explanation of all 32 picks here: https://t.co/lCNaOJ7FWk pic.twitter.com/JFpIA8qFs6
— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) April 27, 2021
Fitting In with Jonathan Gannon’s System
The Eagles are expected to play more zone coverage in new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon’s system. He’ll likely use his safeties to shadow weaknesses in the secondary — remember, the Eagles signed Anthony Harris in the offseason — and shy away from the man-to-man scheme that Jim Schwartz favored.
New Eagles safety Anthony Harris on how he expects to be utilized in Jonathan Gannon’s defense. pic.twitter.com/Mp2PtZ0OFO
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) March 23, 2021
Gannon’s philosophy could play a huge role in how they go about evaluating the rookie defensive backs in the first round, according to Eagles vice-president of player personnel Andy Weidl.
“I think with the defensive backs this year, you’re going to find these guys’ history shown at all levels,” Weidl told reporters on April 21. “We’re going to find guys that come in and fit with Coach Gannon and his defense, [what] they require and they need. So, we’re looking forward to that. We’re going to get going. We had great meetings last week about defensive backs and we’ve got an opportunity with 11 picks to hit on a couple guys next week.”