time2rock Posted May 19, 2021 Share Posted May 19, 2021 The Eagles should sign Steven Nelson By Eliot Shorr-Parks Slowly but surely the Eagles are starting to put together what could end up being a pretty good defense. First they signed Anthony Harris to fill a need at safety. Then signed Eric Wilson to fill a need at linebacker. On Monday they added depth to their defensive line by adding Ryan Kerrigan. Now, almost without question, the biggest need on their defense is a cornerback to start opposite Darius Slay. How can they fill that need? Signing Steven Nelson. Nelson, 28-years old, is currently the best free-agent cornerback on the market, and in many ways the Eagles last real chance at solving the position without making a trade. The 5-foot-11, 194 pound cornerback has played in 82 games in his career, starting 68, totaling 253 tackles, 53 pass deflections, and seven interceptions. Although he has spent some time lined up as the nickel cornerback, Nelson has spent the majority of his time on the outside, which is exactly where the Eagles need help. Why Nelson remains unsigned isn’t clear. He did have a bit of a down year in 2020, but Pro Football Focus still had Nelson as the 27th best coverage cornerback in the NFL, which was actually 13 spots higher than they had Darius Slay (40th). In 2019, however, Nelson showed the kind of lockdown corner he can be. Nelson allowed only 37 catches for 491 yards and zero touchdowns in 2019, giving up a passer rating of just 65.8 when targeted. He finished the 2019 season as the 11th best coverage corner in the NFL, per PFF, and is the 11th best cornerback overall since 2019 (including 2020). One of Nelson’s best qualities, in addition to his durability, his is ability to stay close to his receiver. At one point in 2019 Nelson had a "burn rate” of 0%, meaning at no point in the first 12 weeks of that season did a receiver have more than five yards of separation on him. He was considered the best cornerback in the NFL in 2018 at sticking with the receiver he was covering. His ability to maintain tight coverage is why he has never allowed a 60% or higher completion percentage when being targeted in season throughout his entire career. In fact, there is an argument to be made that Nelson would step onto the Eagles and be the best cornerback on the roster, even over Slay. Together, the duo would give the Eagles one of the better set of starting cornerbacks in the NFL. Nelson would not only step right in and give the Eagles a very good starting corner to pair with Slay, but he would also allow Avonte Maddox to move inside as the nickel cornerback, a role he has played well in. The signing would also take pressure off of rookie Zac McPhearson, the team’s fourth-round pick that might be forced into starting if the team doesn’t make a move at cornerback. It is possible the Eagles could still find a quality option at cornerback if they pass on Nelson — but it certainly won’t be easy, and the longer they wait, the price to sign him is only going to go up. The addition of Nelson could turn the Eagles’ defense into a top-10 unit in 2021. They already have a strong defensive line, and with the additions of Wilson and Harris, have improved at two spots in the back seven. Adding Nelson to start opposite Slay would fill the last glaring hole on their defense and give defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon more than enough talent to work with next season. It could also, if the defense plays up to its potential, turn the Eagles into a contender for the division not many think they can be. https://www.audacy.com/94wip/sports/eagles/the-eagles-should-sign-steven-nelson?fbclid=IwAR2UABFi8fJSPd6V6yJu1WVR-j5prNHDsi8r_aRBwemBbkd4NmJYmQPko_A 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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