After watching some footage of Pittsburgh cornerback Avonte Maddox, the first of the Eagles fourth round draft picks, I’m thinking the Eagles are drafting a slot corner. He’s definitely got the quickness and toughness to play that position.
The Eagles definitely have a need at that position with Patrick Robinson signing with the Saints and Jalen Mills getting the first shot at the starting spot. The Birds believe Mills can do the job, but they don’t know for sure. Maddox could find himself on the field in his rookie season, if things don’t work with Mills and the youngster shows that he’s up to it. I know it’s a stretch, he’s probably going to be playing a lot of special teams.
Maddox ran a 4.39 in the forty-yard dash and 4.0 flat in the short shuttle drill because he has tremendous foot quickness. His quickness and ability to change direction in an instance is very important in playing the slot corner position.
In the NFC East, Maddox will be given the assignment of covering the Cowboys Cole Beasley, who is the classic slot receiver at 5’8″ and 178 pounds. He gets open with his quickness and change of directions, more than his speed. The same is true of the Giants’ slot receiver Sterling Shepard,and the Redskins’ guy in the slot, Jamison Crowder. All of them give taller corners the fits because of their ability to cut on a dime.
Another surprising aspect of Maddox is his willingness to tackle, despite the fact that he’s so small. Many times a slot corner will look up and see a big 320-pound guard coming at him. This little guy from the University of Pittsburgh has the courage to attack running plays.
Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas like the leadership and character that Maddox exudes. He played four years for the Pitt Panthers and was a team captain this past season. He has the ingredients that the Eagles are looking for, he’s a tough minded competitor, who loves the game of football. Don’t be surprised if he finds a way to fight his way onto the field.
It will also be interesting to see how Maddox will do at the outside corner position because he can run with anybody in the league, but it will be interesting to see whether he can deal with receivers who a big height advantage on him.