Philadelphia Eagles: Cre’Von LeBlanc shut down the Rams’ slot receivers

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Eternally used as a punching bag by disgruntled fans, Cre’Von LeBlanc graded out as the Philadelphia Eagles’ best cornerback against the Los Angeles Rams.

2018 has been a horrible year for the Philadelphia Eagles secondary.

With four of the team’s opening day starters either on injured reserve, or consistently on the mend with a troublesome hamstring, Cory Undlin‘s secondary has been forced to rely on no fewer than 13 different players in a never-ending test of the team’s mettle.

Typically this would spell disaster for any team, regardless of their depth, but these extended opportunities can also help to give younger players a chance to earn valuable snaps against live ammunition. This pressure can cause even the most prestigious prospect to crack, but it can also create diamonds.

More from Philadelphia Eagles

It looks like Cre’Von LeBlanc could be one of those diamonds in the rough.

While this proclamation may seem preposterous for that little corner of Eagles Twitter that relishes in every missed tackle, blown coverage, and ineffective press, having moved on from their former target Jalen Mills, if you take a deep dive into the stats, it’s becoming harder and harder to argue with each pasing game.

According to Pro Football Focus, LeBlanc finished out the Eagles’ Week 15 bout against the Los Angeles Rams with a defensive rating of 76.4, the third highest mark of any player on the team behind only Avonte Maddox (who played out of his mind) and four-time Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox.

Earning a positive grade against the run, the pass, and for tackling, LeBlanc faced off against one of the most dynamic slot receivers in the league in Robert Woods, Nelson Agholor‘s USC teammate, and not only lived to tell the tale, but actually thrived in the matchup.

Did he give up his fair share of catches? Most definitely, as he surrendered 12 catches on 15 targets, but it was only for 105 yards, good for an 8.8 yards per catch average, a serious dip from his season average of 10.4.

Furthermore, even though he gave up 12 catches, he didn’t allow a single touchdown while dropped in coverage, marking the fourth straight contest where he’s kept that trend alive.

Since taking over for Jones as the team’s primary slot corner in Week 10, LeBlanc has averaged a 67 defensive PFF rating, a noticeable uptick from Jones’ 58.8 rating as an interior defensive back. While the skill set to play inside is noticeably different from that needed to play outside, as a slot corner needs to have looser hips and above average agility to deal with the change of direction, LeBlanc’s emergence has been a major asset to a team in desperate need of defensive consistency.

Pretty impressive stuff for an undrafted free agent on his fourth team since entering the league from Florida Athletic University in the fall of 2016.

But what could this mean for LeBlanc’s future moving forward?

Well, if the trend persists and LeBlanc continues to perform at an above average level against Houston and Washington, then the Eagles will without a doubt keep the 5-foot-11 corner around, especially at a bargain bin $720,000 price tag. At only 24-years-old, LeBlanc has shown flashes of a starting caliber corner in 268 defensive snaps, and if his 75 snaps against the Sean McVay‘s high flying offense are of any indication, his ceiling could be much higher than your typical fifth corner.

With Ronald Darby set to hit free agency after an injury shortened 2018 season, and Jalen Mills primed to follow him in 2020, the Eagles will eventually need to settle on their secondary of the future, and after being claimed off waivers back in November, it looks like Cre’Von LeBlanc could surprisingly force himself into that conversation.

Next. Three keys to a Week 16 win over Houston Texans. dark

For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe
to PFF’s EDGE or ELITE subscriptions at