The Next One
NFLN's Jeremiah: Devon Witherspoon Could Be Birds' Newest Version Of Asante Samuel
The Philadelphia Eagles saw major success from their secondary in 2022.
With help from strong play in the back end of their defense, the team finished top-10 in scoring defense and snagged 17 interceptions, both for the first time since their 2017 Super Bowl run.
But with three secondary starters set to hit free agency, including cornerback James Bradberry, the Eagles will have tough decisions to make in the offseason surrounding re-signings.
NFL Network’s draft expert Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent mock draft has the Eagles addressing this potential roster hole early in the draft. He projected former Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon to the Birds at 10th overall.
“Yeah, I just think Witherspoon is a stud. I think having been in that building and seen Asante Samuel there, I think you could make an easy comparison there with just the playmaking ability, take the ball away,” said Jeremiah, who was an area scout for the Eagles from 2010-2012. “We’ll see what Bradberry ends up doing in the offseason. I imagine he is probably going to get paid somewhere. So if they don’t resign him, there’s going to be a need there as well.
“If you are where the Eagles are right now, your thought process going into a draft is – it’s not the division anymore. It’s not even the conference. It’s what do we have to do to win a Super Bowl, and what do we have to do to get off the field when we’re going to have to go up against Patrick Mahomes or whoever else is coming out of the AFC – be it Joe Burrow, Josh Allen. Those are the guys you are going to have to go through to win a championship.”
Witherspoon has impressed as a prospect after four seasons at Illinois. He’s the fifth-best overall prospect on Jeremiah’s top 50.
In 2022, his three interceptions and 14 pass deflections culminated in a consensus All-American selection and the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award.
ITB’s Geoff Mosher reported that Witherspoon is the top CB prospect among personnel sources he has spoken to so far.
If Jeremiah’s comparison to Samuel rings true, the Eagles secondary will be in strong shape with Witherspoon standing opposite of Darius Slay.
Samuel’s playmaking and ability to force turnovers was evident in his four seasons with Philadelphia from 2008-2011, hauling in 23 interceptions in four seasons.
Jeremiah believes addressing the potential corner roster hole early will be key to the team’s return to the Super Bowl – and winning it this time.
“In that game they couldn’t get off the field, and I think they’ve got some really good pieces up front,” he added. “I think finding somebody on the back end that could take the ball away, that could help their cause as well. So that’s kind of my thought process there. Everything is about winning a Super Bowl and trying to beat these elite quarterbacks, and you do that with pass rushers and corners.”
The Eagles haven’t used a first-round pick at cornerback since taking Lito Sheppard 26th overall out of Florida in 2002.
Jeremiah, who remains “bullish” on Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis despite a subpar rookie season, had the Eagles taking former Kansas State edge rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah with their other first-round pick, at 30th overall.
– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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