Who is Geoffrey Pope and what is he doing on our roster?
I'd bet half of Eagles nation didn't even know this guy was on our team and for good reason. It was early in 2009 when the Eagles released the ineffective Jack Ikegwuonu and made the move for Pope.
Pope was picked up from the Bengals' practice squad and added to the Eagles' thinning cornerback depth chart. The Bengals had activated and played Pope in a couple of games, then demoted him back to taxi-squad.
Prior to his stint in Cincinnati, Pope signed as a rookie free agent in Miami (2007). He was released in camp and immediately scooped up by the Giants, where he bounced on and off the game day roster. He spent the entire 2008 season on the Giants' practice squad.
Talk about coming up from obscurity, where do we start?
These would be my primary questions:
(1) What make me think this guy could be an Eagle in 2010?
The answer is simple for 2009. The Eagles needed help. Ellis Hobbs was out, Hanson suspended, Sheldon had a pulled hammy, and Asante had a nasty stinger. Was Dimitri Patterson the only healthy guy out there?
And who is Dimitri Patterson (another time)?
More to the point, in an interview with Josh Buchanan before the 2007 draft, Pope was asked which teams showed the most interest in him.
His response was: "I would have to say the Bengals, Giants, and Eagles."
That would make him a pretty good judge of interest, but more interestingly to me, it points out that Andy Reid & Co. had been scoping this kid out for a long time. Now that the Eagles have their talons in him, they might not let him go.
Asante Samuel and Joselio Hanson are both 29 years old. Sheldon Brown is 31. Geoff Pope, Dimitri Patterson, and Ellis Hobbs are the Eagles' youth class for now.
(2) What makes me think he can contribute now?
First, he's lasted three seasons already. He's at his peak physical condition right now and he's gained NFL and Eagles experience. If he is ever going to play in the NFL, Pope will need to get started this season.
He should be motivated.
Second, the Eagles have a new defensive backs coach. Gone is the worst assistant coordinator ever, the Dallas disaster himself—Brian Stewart. And in comes the former head coach from Buffalo—Dick Jauron.
That's a big upgrade for all the young aspiring defensive backs in need of refinement.
Still, the bottom line answer is much simpler. Pure un-coachable speed. Among other strong measureables, Pope ran a 4.27 second 40-yard dash at his Howard University pro-day. Didn't catch that the first time?
4.27 second 40-yard dash!
That's fast. He's also tall (6'0").
What's better yet is that Pope is a football player, not just a track star. At Howard, Pope picked-off four passes and managed 74 tackles in two seasons.
This is the kind of guy that coach Dick Jauron should focus on preparing. If Pope can be adept in the Eagles' defensive scheme, he could present an electrifying ability to make plays.
With his speed, size and athleticism, nothing is impossible.
Pope is a young player that could grow into a starting role in time. For now, the nickel and dime back jobs are an open competition and I expect Pope to be heavily in the mix. I also expect him to figure into the special teams game.
2010 Projection: 14 games active, 22 tackles, two interceptions, one touchdown.