When the Philadelphia Eagles signed cornerback Nolan Carroll as a free agent in 2014, they were expecting him to add depth to the cornerback position and potentially compete for a starting spot. Although Carroll failed to win a starting job this past season, he had an intriguing role as the team’s “dime linebacker” but it sure seems like he’s pushing for a starting job this year.
At 6-1, 205 pounds with great length, Carroll certainly fits the bill for what the Eagles look for in their secondary. Head coach Chip Kelly praised Carroll for his work during the offseason at his press conference when asked which players in the secondary have stood out to him so far besides projected starters, cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Malcolm Jenkins.
“Nolan Carroll has done an unbelievable job in the offseason. He’s a guy that stands out in terms of what he’s done in the weight room and some of those other things,” Kelly said. The cornerback spot opposite of Maxwell is open for competition but Carroll seems like the early favorite to win the job based on his experience and what others are saying about him.
Jenkins also spoke highly of Carroll when asked about which player in the secondary has stood out to him. “If there’s one guy who’s really been killing it from on the field to in the weight room to everything it’s probably been Nolan. His technique is drastically improved. I think he feels a lot better playing at the corner. A lot more confident. Last year we had him kind of playing at dime linebacker all year and he still has that background, that ability to go in and play the dime, the nickel, but he’s really starting to feel comfortable in making a lot of plays out on the outside too, so that’s been really encouraging to see. The stuff he’s done in the weight room, as far as his technique will transition out to the field,” Jenkins said during his 30-second evaluation of Carroll.
It’s clear that both Kelly and Jenkins are both high on Carroll’s work this offseason, but will it actually translate to the field? In 2013, during his time with the Miami Dolphins, Carroll actually started 12 games at cornerback and did a phenomenal job. Although Carroll ranked 56th overall among 110 total cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus, he posted some impressive stats.
In 809 total snaps, Carroll allowed just 43 receptions on 90 targets, a catch percentage of 47.8%, which ranked 4th best among cornerbacks in 2013. As well as allowing just a 2 touchdowns compared to 3 interceptions and allowed a NFL quarterback rating of 65.0, 9th best among cornerbacks in 2013. For comparison’s sake, in 2013, Darrelle Revis allowed a catch percentage of 54.0% and an NFL quarterback rating of 81.4 in 2013. That’s impressive and proves that Carroll certainly has the ability to succeed as a starting cornerback in the NFL.
With such an open competition for the second starting spots at both cornerback and safety, it’ll be fun to watch the battle take place during training camp and preseason action. Carroll checks all of the boxes as far as what the Eagles look for at cornerback, now it’s just up to him to beat out the “kids” at the position for the job opposite of Maxwell. With Walter Thurmond making the move to safety, Carroll has an easier path to the starting job but only time will tell if he actually takes control of it or not.
Anthony DiBona | insidetheiggles.com | May 30, 2015