At the NFL combine, Eagles building connections with safeties and versatile defensive backs

Devin Jackson, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

INDIANAPOLIS — The Eagles defense needs major upgrades to become a top unit again next season — and it begins with the secondary.

As it stands, the team is lacking that true center fielder type of safety who can erase vertical concepts at a consistent rate. Finding one through the draft, at a position valued on Day 2, should be a strong consideration for the Eagles as they retool their secondary.

With plenty of intriguing options at the top of the class, the Eagles have made connections with several safeties, including Miami’s Kamren Kinchens and USC’s Calen Bullock.

Kinchens, a two-year full-time starter for the Hurricanes, told reporters that he had a meeting with the Eagles this week. A ball-hawk with range to cover sideline-to-sideline from single-high and two-high safety alignments, Kinchens credits his instincts and anticipation in breaking on the football to create turnovers or pass breakups.

“The film makes me aggressive because I feel confident in what’s going on,” Kinchens said Thursday. “My college coaches helped me every day, just feeling the flow of the game and just when to know to take those chances.”

Over the last two seasons, Kinchens has compiled 11 interceptions and 22 passes defended, boasting ball skills to tout his aggressive mindset in taking risks on the back end. While his tackling must become more consistent in the open field, with a 13.7 percent missed tackle rate at Pro Football Focus, Kinchens is an impressive coverage safety.


Meanwhile, Trojans standout safety Bullock, who was repping his late father and grandmother on his chains at the podium, says he got a chance to sit down and go through his film with the Eagles. The meeting also included a best-of-three basketball shooting game, allowing Bullock and the Eagles brass to connect.

Like Kinchens, Bullock is a player who has natural range and instincts in coverage, quickly diagnosing and closing on vertical concepts. The rangy safety has seven interceptions and 12 pass breakups over his last two seasons and credited his ability to read a quarterback’s shoulders as a key to getting an early break on the football.

“I know I have to watch film, I know I have to get a head start because if I don’t watch the film, I can’t make the plays I make,” Bullock explained. So I have to go and watch film, read quarterbacks, their dropbacks [and] read their shoulders [to] give me a head start.”

In addition to Kinchens, the Eagles also met with Washington State’s Jaden Hicks, Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin, and talked with Texas Tech’s Dadrion Taylor-Demerson at the Shrine Bowl a few months ago, making it clear the Eagles are doing their homework on this safety class.


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