The cornerback position is going to be one to watch for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. Prior to the 2011 season, the Eagles made headlines by bringing in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to join Asante Samuel. Fans like me thought that the team had the best cornerback trio that the NFL had seen in a long time. Unfortunately, things didn't work out the way we wanted. DRC struggled in the slot and Asomugha struggled to adjust to the scheme. In 2012, the unit has gone through another makeover. Samuel is gone and DRC is moving to a more natural position. As OTAs begin on May 22, we should finally get an idea of how much this group has improved. Here is a breakdown of where the cornerbacks stand for the Eagles.
There won't be any questions about who the starters are in 2012. Asomugha and DRC should line up as the starting cornerbacks when the regular season begins. Of the two, I am less worried about Asomugha. Though he struggled early, he started to turn things around during the season. By the end of 2011, he was looking like the player the Eagles thought they would get. Now that he is entering his second year in the system he should thrive. As for DRC, the pressure will be on him to perform at a high level. He won't be able to use the slot position as an excuse anymore. His road to redemption starts with OTAs.
The nickel corner is a very important position on this team. The Eagles run a lot of packages with three cornerbacks, so the player in the slot has to be ready to go. Veteran Joselio Hanson had a solid year in 2011 and he seems to have the inside track to win this job at the start of the season. However, rookie Brandon Boykin will be breathing down his neck. The Eagles feel like they stole him in the draft and they have to hope he is ready to steal this job. I think Boykin will be great but he is more likely to open the season as a return specialist. But if Boykin starts proving himself in the offseason, don't be surprised to see him take over the slot at some point this fall.
The Eagles will have several other cornerbacks fighting for roster spots when OTAs start. Of the bunch, Cliff Harris is the most intriguing prospect. The undrafted free agent has talent but comes with character concerns. Assuming he has improved his maturity, the Eagles might have found a solid player in him. Meanwhile, Curtis Marsh is pretty much guaranteed a spot and should provide relief for one of the starters. Brandon Hughes and Trevard Lindley will try to show their stuff during OTAs and training camp but they are long shots to make the roster.
Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Eagles fan.