Is Rasul Douglas the Philadelphia Eagles’ next great safety?

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 17: Tight end Travis Kelce
KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 17: Tight end Travis Kelce /

With Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones set to return later this season, could the Eagles rookie third-round pick Rasul Douglas be moved to safety?

After spending the better part of the 2010s struggling to find consistent cornerback play from veteran stop-gaps and highly paid free agent acquisitions, the Philadelphia Eagles have finally amassed an impressive collection of young, athletic playmakers who can grow together into one of the leagues best young cores.

But with Sidney Jones and Ronald Darby set to return in the forthcoming weeks, the team may soon find themselves having too much of a good thing.

After Darby, the team’s top cornerback went down with a leg injury in Week 1, Rasul Douglas, the 99th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, was forced into action on the outside, and has actually played pretty well in a five-game sample size. After suffering through some to be expected rookie mistakes, Douglas has settled into his role nicely and has actually started to make plays on the ball on a regular basis.

And really no one should be surprised.

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During his second and final season at West Virginia, Douglas leads the nation in interceptions with an astounding eight picks in only 13 games, and so far, his ball-hawking ability appears to have translated seamlessly to the next level. In only five games, Douglas has already hauled in two interceptions and he’s only cracking the surface of his potential.

But unfortunately for Douglas, his playing time may soon take a serious dip in the upcoming weeks as Darby prepares to reenter Jim Schwartz‘s starting lineup.

With returning starter Jalen Mills and nickel cornerback Patrick Robinson playing exceptionally well so far this season, it seems like Douglas will be the odd man out of the team’s cornerback rotation, and when Jones returns from Achilles injury he suffered at Washington‘s pro day, whether that be later this season or early next, Douglas could fall even further down the Eagles’ depth chart.

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But, what if Douglas could fill another role on the team that could potentially optimize his playmaking abilities, while also masking his lack of straight-line speed?

Coming out of college many pundits and scouts actually projected Douglas as a hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety at the next level, a position that could highlight his zone coverage skills, strong instincts and aggressive tendencies, while also masking his average at best athletic ability. So far in the Doug Pederson-era, the Eagles have deployed a third safety in their big nickel package on roughly one-third of their defensive snaps plays, but none of these players have possessed a skill set quite like the former Mountaineer.

This position change would give Douglas a clear path onto the field in both the big nickel package, and as a dime defender, and would give defensive backs coach Cory Undlin a young safety with incredible upside to groom behind aging veterans of Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins.

While Douglas has played well at cornerback so far this season, a move to safety could give the team a young defensive playmaker the likes of which Philadelphia hasn’t seen since Brian Dawkins last dawned the midnight green, and allow the team to build one of the NFL’s best young secondaries around Douglas, Mills, Jones, and Darby.

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Do you think moving Douglas to safety is a good idea? Let us know in the comments section below.