In limited defensive snaps during his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, Nolan Carroll held up very well in pass coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, despite playing just 388 defensive snaps, he earned the team's second-best pass coverage grade behind only Brandon Boykin. The Eagles' coaching staff has taken notice, and through the team's first six OTA practices, Carroll has lined up as the starting cornerback with the first team defense on every snap.
Carroll has already made an excellent impression on teammate Malcolm Jenkins. The veteran safety has noticed a stronger, faster and more technically sound version of Carroll.
"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," Jenkins told reporters last week after practice, per The Morning Call. "His technique is drastically improved. I think he feels a lot better playing at the corner, a lot more confident."
Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin singled out Carroll as the defensive back who has stood out the most to the coaches and the players so far.
"Nolan has come in exactly with the mind-set that we want from every player," Undlin said, per The Morning Call. "He's not satisfied where he was. He's not satisfied with where he was yesterday. So every time he comes into the building right now, his mind-set is telling him, `Listen, I'm going to find a way to become better than I was yesterday.' And he has honestly done that every single day he's been here.
"I believe every guy in there has done that. Nolan has stuck out. We do those competitions, and he's won a lot of them. You just feel it. You ask anybody on the team and they feel Nolan Carroll right now."
Carroll feels like a new player heading into 2015 after changing up his offseason workout regimen.
"I changed it around a little this offseason," Carroll said, per The Morning Call. "Most of the time I would take about a month-and-a-half off. This year, I only took two weeks and I just got right back to it.
"I wanted to be able to do it so when I came back out here that I'm pretty much going to be a step ahead of everybody else. That's how I want to be from now on, going into training camp and going into the preseason games and the season. I want to be able to always be mentally and physically ready, and that's what I put my mind-set on after the season was over."
Carroll will compete to remain the team's starting outside cornerback across from big ticket free agent acquisition Byron Maxwell. Earlier this week, Boykin made news about wanting to have the opportunity to finally win a starting outside cornerback role. Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis claimed that Boykin would have a shot to compete with Carroll. However, Carroll likely has the upper hand because he fits head coach Chip Kelly's size and length requirements for an outside cornerback. This heated battled will likely continue through training camp.
Nick Fierro | foxsports.com | June 5, 2015