The Philadelphia Eagles might’ve found a hidden gem at CB.
Heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Cardinals, all eyes were on Arizona wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Philadelphia Eagles were going to be without their lockdown corner Darius Slay due to a concussion, and their depth was disastrously thin at cornerback. Both Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc were on IR, and Jalen Mills couldn’t slide over to corner due to Rodney McLeod being out as well – leaving starting CB duties to the likes of random practice squad call-ups.
Considering the fact that DHop is widely regarded as one of the most complete WRs in the league, the general consensus was that he would explode for a career game of sorts. While he did ultimately finish the Week 15 matchup with 9 catches, 169 yards, and a touchdown, he did experience a surprising level of difficulties early on in the ballgame. He probably left another 50+ yards on the table, and his red zone fumble cost the Cardinals at least three points.
So who was responsible for DHop’s struggles? None other than Michael Jacquet – a 23 year old undrafted free agent who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this past offseason. He had played just 51 total defensive snaps heading into this Sunday, and was making his first career start. With all of that considered, I think the rookie did a darn good job!
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While Hopkins ultimately put up an impressive stat line, Jacquet did a solid job slowing down the All-Pro receiver. Jacquet had 2 pass breakups, the one forced fumble, and even got into the backfield for a half-sack on Kyler Murray. One of Jacquet’s PBUs came in the end zone, where he knocked the ball out of DHop’s hands – preventing what would’ve been a TD.
Earlier in the year Jacquet was called upon to sub in for Slay against the Cowboys, where he also mildly impressed. The UDFA was mainly tasked with guarding Amari Cooper, and he walked away from the brief outing (30 snaps) allowing just three catches on six targets (56.2 passer rating when targeted).
That’s two instances where Jacquet – being thrown into the fire due to an emergency – at least held his own against an elite receiver. Additionally, in 21 snaps against the Packers in Week 12, Jacquet was also effective, allowing zero completions (one target).
Even after this week’s Cardinals game, it’s all an extremely small sample size to look at. However, it’s undeniable that Jacquet has come in and produced during the opportunities that he’s been afforded.
The Eagles have a longstanding love-hate relationship with practice squad darlings, as guys like Cre’Von LeBlanc and Boston Scott have nestled their way into the fanbase’s hearts. These guys ultimately ended up struggling here in 2020, but someone like Jacquet could turn out to be a better longterm prospect.
Jacquet is 6-2, 200lbs, is fairly athletic, and has already shown the mental toughness to line up across some of the league’s best WR talent. That’s pretty darn promising for a rookie.
The Philadelphia Eagles have glaring needs at a handful of positions when it comes to looking ahead to 2021, and they aren’t going to have enough draft assets to address all of them. If Jacquet turns out to be a serviceable corner alongside Darius Slay, it would allow the Eagles to focus their limited picks on other positions like wide receiver, linebacker, and safety.