Philadelphia Eagles: Board the Reed Blankenship hype train ASAP

MTSU's Reed Blankenship (12) celebrates
MTSU's Reed Blankenship (12) celebrates /

The Philadelphia Eagles are pretty darn deep across *almost every position across their depth chart.

They have two good quarterbacks, a trio of complementary rushers, depth on both of the lines, and more cornerbacks than they know what to do with, even after the release of Jimmy Moreland, who became redundant after the addition of Ugo Amadi (more on that here). Heck, in the most encouraging test of fate you will read all year, the Eagles actually have more starting-caliber linebackers than they have available spots, as Haason Reddick is locked in at the SAM, and the dynamic duo of T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White aren’t exactly seeding their spots to Nakobe Dean any time soon.

And yet, if there’s an asterisk in the phrase “pretty darn deep across *almost every position across their depth chart” – which, as you can doubly see, there is – it’s because of the safety spot. That’s right, after saying goodbye to Rodney McLeod in free agency, the Eagles have been cycling through a number of different options to play opposite Anthony Harris, with everyone from Marcus Epps to converted cornerback Josiah Scott trying their hand in the starting lineup.

The newest member of the Philadelphia Eagles to earn a shot next to Anthony Harris? Well, that would be Reed Blankenship, the UDFA out of Middle Tennessee State who led the team in tackles versus the New York Jets in the preseason opener. With his roster spot rapidly upgrading from doubtful to questionable, let’s get to know the combination safety/special teamer.

Reed Blankenship may just sneak onto the Philadelphia Eagles roster.

Last season, the Philadelphia Eagles were pretty darn deep in their secondary, especially after landing not one but two cornerbacks in midseason trades. They had Darius Slay and Steven Nelson starting on the outside with Zech McPhearson, Kary Vincent Jr., and Tay Gowan as reserves, Avonte Maddox and Josiah Scott manning the slot, and Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris starting at safety with Marcus Epps and K’Von Wallace serving as direct backups and Andre Chachere floating around as a hybrid safety/slot one-two punch.

In practice, that combination worked; Chachere was a standout on special teams who played in the slot, in the box, and at free safety, the starters all played the vast majority of the team’s defensive snaps, and the topline reserves, Epps, McPhearson, and Scott all turned in more good plays than bad during their snaps.

With all of those players minus McLeod but plus Jaquiski Tartt and a quarter dozen UDFAs back, the Birds could roll with the same basic game plan, but the addition of Ugo Amadi, the struggles of Tartt, and the position change of Scott changes that strategy up ever so slightly. With multiple reserves who can play multiple positions, Howie Roseman and company could conceivably opt to keep a true developmental safety instead of a jack of all trades DB who is very good on special teams but not that good at any one position.

If that’s the case, Reed Blankenship might just be the player to watch.

A three-star recruit out of West Limestone High School in Lester, Alabama, Blankenship chose to take his talents to Middle Tennessee over offers from Arkansas State, Georgia State, Minnesota, Troy, and Tulane and rapidly became an all-time legend with the Blue Raiders. He started all but five games he appeared in from 2016-21, became the program’s all-time leading tackler with 390 to his credit, and was named to a slew of different awards lists, with a spot on the First-team All-Conference USA in 2021 probably his biggest accolade.

And yet, whether due to his injury history, his meh measurables at Middle Tennessee State’s Pro Day, or, ironically enough, his lack of scheme versatility, Reed didn’t hear his name called on draft day and only earned $55,000 in guaranteed money from the Eagles, which seems like a lot but actually ranked second-to-last among their UDFA class behind only Ali Fayad, who has already been waived.

dark. Next. Goodbye Jimmy Moreland, hello Ugo Amadi

Can Reed Blankenship prove the doubters wrong? Can he overcome his perceived shortcomings to not only make the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster but do a little more than simply play the role of special teams ace? If he plays like he did against the New York Jets in the final two preseason bouts of the summer, the chances will only improve with each passing week.