For the third consecutive practice, a player in the Eagles' defensive secondary flashed. Today it was free agent acquisition Nolan Carroll, who had an impressive diving interception. Before we commence with the Carroll love, there are two important disclaimers to note:
1) Like we noted previously with Jordan Matthews, Nolan Carroll is running with the second team. Therefore, he's not seeing the same level of competition as Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, who are typically facing the first team offense.
2) While Carroll has had an inordinate number of pass breakups, he did not have an interception until today. Some of those chances have been outright drops, like today, when he had a chance to pick off two additional passes. Pass breakups are good, but it would be preferable, obviously, if Carroll could convert those opportunities into turnovers.
Still, what Carroll has shown so far has been very impressive. In OTAs and minicamp, when defensive backs are not allowed to jam receivers, the advantage is blatantly slanted toward the offense. Even then, Carroll did a great job breaking up passes. Now that the pads are on and the DBs are allowed to get their hands on receivers, the secondary has looked better to an obvious degree. The defense as a group has in turn also gotten their hands on a lot of footballs, but none more than Carroll. He has been a pass breakup machine.
At the end of the 2014 season, Bradley Fletcher will be a free agent. In 2015, Cary Williams will count for over $8 million against the salary cap. Carroll is a legitimate candidate to start this season, but even if he can't crack the starting lineup, he'll serve as very good depth, and could provide the Eagles with another option at CB in 2015 if Fletcher's or Williams' long term standing with the team are in doubt.