When the Philadelphia Eagles traded JJ Arcega-Whiteside to the Seattle Seahawks for Ugo Amadi, it felt like a pretty big deal.
After giving way too much leeway to the former second-round pick out of Stanford over the first three years of his career, Howie Roseman finally pulled the plug on the JJAW experiment after an ill-fated switch to tight end and shipped him off to the Pacific North West in an attempt to salvage his career.
If Amadi worked out, then great, the Birds would have a viable backup slot cornerback with experience at safety and perimeter corner too. And if not? Well, it’s a lot less embarrassing to cut a recent trade acquisition than a draftee, especially one notoriously selected before DK Metcalf.
Fortunately for almost everyone, the Eagles felt confident enough in their depth to hold onto Amadi’s rights with a loose hand, and when the Tennessee Titans came calling about adding another slot corner, Roseman made the deal for a conditional Day 3 pick in 2024.
So what gives? Why was Roseman so into the idea of adding and then subtracting Amadi? Well, probably because he’s incredibly confident in Josiah Scott – and to a lesser degree, Andre Chachere- and feels as though a 2024 pick provides more value than a deep bench reserve on the last year of his deal.
The Philadelphia Eagles are going to rely heavily on do-it-all Josiah Scott in 2022.
When news broke that Jonathan Gannon and company were attempting to cross-train Scott at safety, it turned a few heads across the Delaware Valley.
Granted, Scott is an interior defensive back by trade and played surprisingly well against the run in limited action in 2021, but at just 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, he’s on the smaller size for an NFL safety, even for one in Gannon’s system where the presence of a moneymaker in the box isn’t really a requirement. Would he really be able to lay down the hammer on a 240-pound running back coming down hill?
Though two preseason games, the answer to that question appears to be a resounding yes.
Logging snaps alongside the likes of K’Von Wallace and Jaquiski Tartt with Chachere and Amadi manning the slot, Scott looked good in zone coverage, kept opposing receivers in front of him, and proved good against the run, too, as he assisted Wallace in stopping D’Ernest Johnson on what could have even much more than a 10 yard gain versus the Browns.
Surely keeping Scott as a top-4 safety alongside Tartt, Marcus Epps, and Anthony Harris is a good idea, as he’s better in coverage than Wallace and could be just as effective as Chachere on special teams if given a chance, but that isn’t all the Michigan State product brings to the table.
No, in order to cross-train as a safety, one has to first play another position, and in Scott’s case, that position was slot cornerback. Though he logged less than 100 defensive snaps with the Eagles last fall, Scott looked like a fine foil for Avonte Maddox in the slot, where his 4.42 speed and collegiate experience in a Mark Dantonio-adjacent scheme made him a natural replacement for the Pitt product. While Chachere had earned the lion’s share of the slot snaps in 2022’s preseason, Scott will likely earn the first crack at the field when Maddox needs a break.
In the NFL, the best ability is versatility for reserve players looking to carve out a spot on a 53-man roster. While being a darn good slot cornerback is important, being able to play in the dime, in the big nickel deployed deep, or even just as an emergency safety if two other performers were to go down is the sort of utility that puts one player over another if things are close. Assuming Scott is healthy enough to play Week 1, his spot on both the roster and the field as a legit subpackage contributor is all but secured.