Philadelphia Eagles: Meet De’Vante Bausby, the surprise star of OTAs

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Now on his third team in as many years, could Pittsburg State cornerback De’Vante Bausby have finally found a home with the Philadelphia Eagles?

After the 2018 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles cornerback group looked pretty set.

Between incumbent starters Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, 2017 additions Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas, and 2018 fourth-round draft pick Avonte Maddox, it appeared as though the lone question surrounding Cory Undlin‘s defensive backs unit would be who would ultimately back up starting safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.

That is, until a fringe cornerback started making waves in OTAs.

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After going undrafted following a three year career as a starter in the press-man scheme of the Pittsburg State GorillasDe’Vante Bausby bounced around the league looking for a home, initially joining his hometown Kansas City Chiefs, then taking up a brief residency in Chicago, appearing in four games for the incredibly injured Bears‘ secondary in 2016 before ultimately returning to the practice squad the following year. From there, Bausby returned to Kansas City going into 2017, before being waived yet again as the Chiefs cut down their roster to 53.

But one week later, he finally found a home in South Philly, at least for now.

Though he didn’t appear in a single game for the Birds in route to their eventual Super Bowl run, Bausby showed enough in practice to earn himself another shot at making the Eagles roster, receiving a future contract on February 13th. While this move was initially nothing more than a footnote while the city still bathed in the afterglow of the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory, as even the most eager fan probably viewed Bausby’s extension as nothing more than a depth signing to help fill out the 90-man roster, the third year cornerback had other plans going into his first summer in the City of Brotherly Love.

Earning snaps in the slot on the team’s second unit in OTAs, Bausby has seemingly made plays every time the ball was thrown his way and has quickly become a name to watch for fans looking for 2018’s unlikely summer underdog story. While it’s only June, Bausby looks much more like Corey Clement than Paul Turner and may force Howie Roseman‘s hand at cornerback.

And if he can play, Bausby would be a major boon to the Eagles’ already solid secondary.

Measuring in at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Bausby tested out of this world during the pre-draft process all the way back in 2015, impressing scouts with a solid 37.5 -inch vertical jump and 11-foot broad jump, as well as a very solid 4.35 40-yard dash as he attempted to make the leap from a small school standout to a legitimate NFL player. Though it didn’t translate to a selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, that more has to do with his perceived rawness, not his perceived lack of ability.

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Those numbers are impressive for an outside cornerback but are almost unheard of for a nickleback.

While the team does have a solid collection of corners already on the roster, the idea of adding a corner with Bausby’s size to the team’s big nickel package could allow Jim Schwartz and company the optionality to set their matchup based on their opponent’s sets, at least initially.

Need a small nickel to combat the likes of Cowboys slot Cole Beasley? Insert Avonte Maddox.

What about a bigger slot receiver like Larry Fitzgerald or even Redskins‘ tight end Jordan Reed? Well, De’Vante Bausby could be your guy.

As NFL offenses become more and more reliant on sub-packages designed to take advantage of an opposing team’s shortcomings, it’s become imperative for defensive coordinators to field specialized defenders with the ability to play, and cover multiple positions as a counter. While a player like Robey Nickell-Coleman can have success as a 5-foot-8 slot-only cornerback, for a team to truly field a competitive defense, they need to find defensive backs who can play physical defense inside or out, and be able to move with their man on any given play.

With some star receivers, like the Cleveland BrownsJarvis Landry, spending the vast majority of their time lined up in the slot, it’s become more important than ever to find a cerebral slot cornerback with the ability to play all over the field. If Bausby has the loose hips to remain competitive on the inside, his size and natural athleticism could make him an incredibly formidable, interchangeable cornerback in Schwartz’s man-press scheme, and ensure him a spot in their top-three rotation for years to come.

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While only time will tell if De’Vante Bausby has what it takes to beat out the odds and earn a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles 53 man roster, let alone take over their vacant nickel corner spot, it’s safe to say that the days of Malcolm Jenkins being forced to play nickel corner 70 percent of the game are long gone.