Eagles 2019 breakout candidate: Avonte Maddox ready to build on unlikely rookie season


This week, I’ll be taking a closer look at five young Eagles who have a chance to enjoy a “breakout season” in 2019. We have already looked at Derek Barnett and Dallas Goedert

Up today: Avonte Maddox 

Age: 23

How acquired: 2018 fourth-round pick 

Entering: Year 2

That was a pretty crazy rookie season for Maddox in 2018. After not playing a single defensive snap in the first three weeks of the season, Maddox grew into one of the most important pieces of a secondary that was completely decimated by injuries. 

By the time his rookie season ended, Maddox had played slot corner, outside corner and safety and played all three well. While he came back to Earth a little bit in the playoffs, he far exceeded every expectation set for him as a rookie. 

Then Maddox came back this spring looking great. 

“I think Avonte Maddox has picked up where he left off,” said Doug Pederson, who mentioned Maddox first among defensive players when he was asked for some spring standouts. 

The weird thing here is that Maddox isn’t even guaranteed a starting spot. This spring, the Eagles used him as a starting corner, playing him inside and outside, but Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills are still recovering. Only three players from the group of Darby, Mills, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc are going to start. After paying Darby, you can go ahead and pencil him in as one of the starters. After that, Maddox will have a chance to compete for a starting gig. If he plays as well as he did as a rookie, he’ll win a job. 

Despite how well he played at outside corner and even safety last season, the Eagles still seem to like Maddox in the nickel corner role, one that suits his 5-foot-9 frame. Perhaps the Eagles are getting him ready for a role in which he’d start outside and then slide inside in the nickel package. But this team has a ton of depth at corner and no one really knows how it will shake out. And the Eagles used higher draft picks on Jones and Douglas and Jim Schwartz seems to love Jalen Mills. But you just can't ignore what Maddox was able to do in Year 1. 

As long as Maddox can get on the field, he’ll have a chance to continue his success from what was a tremendous rookie season. The Eagles might really have something with him. 

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