Philadelphia Eagles: Josiah Scott is a solid safety valve

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

When the Philadelphia Eagles claimed Jimmy Moreland off of waivers, it generated quite a bit of buzz from fans looking for the next great, young player to latch onto.

Originally a seventh-round pick out of James Madison by the team now known as the Washington Commanders, Moreland turned in two solid enough seasons in DC under then-defensive coordinators Greg Manusky and then Jack Del Rio before being waived to make way for Danny Johnson in 2021. While the Eagles reportedly put in a claim for Moreland’s services, they were outgunned by the Houston Texans, who were higher on the claim order at the time, and ultimately had to watch as he played just eight snaps for the Texans in 2021 – a good 591 fewer than his 2020 high water mark.

Unsurprisingly, Moreland was waived once more, as the Texans’ coaching staff didn’t change too much with Lovie Smith taking over for his former head coach David Culley, and this time, Howie Roseman was able to get his guy, give him the number 47, and thrown into the fray at slot cornerback.

Would Moreland serve as the main backup for Avonte Maddox in the slot? Would Moreland play so well that Maddox would have to move to safety, where is very light depth-wise? And what about Josiah Scott, the cornerback the Eagles traded for last year in camp because he didn’t fit the Jacksonville Jaguars’ new system under Urban Meyer? Certainly he’d be gone too, either via trade or being outright released, right?

Well, while only time will tell on the first two points, it’s clear Scott isn’t heading anywhere else anytime soon unless some team comes to Roseman right with a trade offer he can’t refuse. Why? Well, because Scott is a darn good nickleback who could probably start on more than a few teams across the league and has even been cross-training at safety with the Birds, which, *spoiler alert* is a clear sign that he’s a shoo-in to make the 53 man roster.

Josiah Scott’s play was on display in the Philadelphia Eagles’ preseason opener.

Josiah Scott did not start the Philadelphia Eagles’ preseason loss to the New York Jets. It didn’t take him long to get into the game, as he was out there by the second drive of the first quarter, but for the first drive, Scott had to bide his time and watch as Avonte Maddox, arguably a top-5 slot corner in the NFL today, put in limited work against Zach Wilson.

Fortunately, when Scott did enter the game – albeit at safety, not slot cornerback – he swiftly proved that he, too, is worthy of being lauded for his interior abilities, as he also played well against the Jets’ offense, recorded a tackle, provided solid coverage both against the run and the pass, and just genuinely looked like a natural over his 34 snaps of defensive action. Really, the only “negative” about Scott’s run is that his defense was so good that he wasn’t really tested much and thus, didn’t have a chance to make any Kyzir White-esque plays to get the fan base clamoring for more.

Now granted, this defensive play should be nothing new to fans who have been keeping an eye on number 33 since the Michigan State product made his way from Jacksonville to the City of Brotherly Love; Scott played very well, especially against the run, during his 90 defensive snaps in 2021 and despite allowing a single touchdown on one of his nine targets, his ability to limit YAC inspired a much longer look from the coaching staff.

Factor in his one sack on zero designed rushes – at least according to Pro-football reference – and who knows, maybe a move to safety Rodney McLeod-style could actually be in Scott’s best interests moving forward, as it’d get him on the field more often in 2022 and allow him to play the run and one side of the field without as many on-ball responsibilities. While he’s a little small to be anything but a free safety at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Scott ran a 4.42 coming out of college and was a good ballhawk in East Lansing. Considering Lance Zierlein compared Scott to Avonte Maddox coming out of MSU, why not have Scott be the player who kicks it back to safety and keep Maddox where he’s been excelling? Makes sense to me.

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Is Josiah Scott small? Yes. Is he too small to play perimeter cornerback consistently in a press-heavy scheme? Yes as well, especially with arm lengths of 29.375 that rank in the second percentile according to Mockdraftable. And yet, Scott should remain employed by the Philadelphia Eagles for the foreseeable future because he’s good in coverage, good against the run, and, who knows, may become a good safety someday too.