Philadelphia Eagles: Nnamdi Asomugha and 4 Other Corners Philly Could Pursue
Contrary to the popular belief that the Eagles might spend a high pick on a corner in the draft, the Eagles held out until the third round to draft developmental corner Curtis Marsh.
Marsh has all the physical tools, standing at 6'1'', 197 pounds. He runs in the 4.4-second range, but has only had one full season playing at cornerback, having converted from running back.
Last year's starting corner, Dimitri Patterson, is nothing more than a solid nickel or dime corner; he proved he cannot consistently play at a starting level. Though he is a tough, hard-nosed football player, he does not have the speed to stay on top of receivers.
Trevard Lindley is a sleeper to start, but like Marsh, he is still something of a project. Like Patterson, some have questioned his speed.
The Eagles' right-corner position, opposite Asante Samuel, must be addressed in the free-agent market or through a trade, as the in-house options are just not qualified enough.
Here are five possible corners to pursue.
5. Richard Marshall
Richard Marshall is one of the better cover corners in the league, which he proved in 2010.
While he was better known for his run support and was just decent in coverage in the past, he put it all together this season. He became a solid cover corner and recorded three interceptions, showing decent playmaking skills.
The Panthers are probably not going to try to re-sign him, and if the Eagles are looking for a solid guy to play alongside Samuel, or even a guy that could excel as a nickel CB, Marshall could be their guy.
4. Antonio Cromartie
Cromartie has all the physical tools you look for in a cornerback. He is tall and lengthy, but is just as fast and is a ballhawk.
He seemed to be tormented by deep balls last season, in his first season as a Jet.
Cromartie is a notorious risk taker, like Asante Samuel, but with a lesser success rate.
He is only 27 years of age and can still learn to refine his game. Samuel could be the perfect player to teach him to learn to study the tendencies of the quarterback and then decide to jump the route.
Cromartie is not an overly physical corner and has had his run-support skills questioned in his career.
The Jets drafted Kyle Wilson in the first round last year and have arguably the second-best corner in the league in Darrelle Revis.
Letting Cromartie go could be a possibility, even if they spent a second-round pick in their trade to get him.
3. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Antonio Cromartie's cousin Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is probably the more talented of the two at the young age of 25.
He is a tall, lanky, physical specimen at 6'2'', 182 pounds. Rodgers-Cromartie is a legitimate 4.3 guy and can stick to every receiver in the league.
Rodgers-Cromartie has already made a Pro Bowl and has 13 career interceptions.
He is a great cover corner and can stick his nose in the running game.
However, as he is under contract, the Eagles would have to construct a deal with the Arizona Cardinals for his services.
Jeff McLane of Philly.com recently stated that Rodgers-Cromartie could be used as bait in a deal that sends Eagles backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to the desert.
If the Eagles choose to trade Kolb, most expect them to look for a starting player and draft picks.
The Cardinals drafted cornerback Patrick Peterson at the fifth-overall spot, so they could be happy to send Rodgers-Cromartie to Philadelphia if it meant landing a franchise quarterback like Kolb.
2. Jonathan Joseph
While Jonathan Joseph seems interested in returning to the Bengals in 2011, whoever strikes out in the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes will be pursuing him, so he will have a number of options.
At 27, Joseph is in the prime of his career and is one of the most underrated corners in the league. He deserves to be mentioned in the discussion of top 10 corners currently playing.
Joseph has elite speed, great coverage and ball skills. He can press and play up at the receiver, but has enough recovery speed if beat.
He is a fluid athlete and can play the run better than most corners.
With such a huge price tag on Asomugha, some believe Joseph is the better buy on the free-agent market.
1. Nnamdi Asomugha
Why is Philip Rivers even testing the best defensive corner in the league?
Nnamdi Asomugha would have a major impact on the Eagles defense. He is the true definition of a shutdown corner, as he was targeted less than 30 times last season.
Specifically, only 29 times in 14 games.
Asomugha can stuff the run as well, as he is the size of most safeties in the league. He stands at 6'2", 210 pounds.
Teams know the capabilities of Asomugha and are smart not to test him. Most of the time, the pass will not be completed.
Asomugha has elite speed and size, and can stick to all receivers in the league.
The Eagles employ man-to-man coverage, and Asomugha is the best in the league at doing just that, having played in mainly a man-to-man scheme in Oakland.
He can press and be physical at the line, but fits the Eagles' defense opposite of Asante Samuel, a corner that plays off the receiver.
Asomugha would form the best cornerback tandem in the NFL with Asante Samuel if he signed with the Eagles.