Maddox lands on list of most important Eagles

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Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham
18. Jordan Davis
17. Kyzir White
16. Avonte Maddox 

The Eagles have one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL with Darius Slay and James Bradberry but it’s an even stronger as a trio when you include Avonte Maddox.

For whatever reason, the nickel corner position still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves in the NFL in 2022, but it’s an extremely important spot. And last year, Maddox proved that he’s one of the best nickel corners in the NFL.

In the modern NFL, the slot corner is basically a starter and Maddox ended up playing 68.5% of the Eagles defensive snaps in games he played in 2021. He played well enough that during last season he was rewarded with a three-year, $22.5 million extension.

“He's playing winning football,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said last season. “Like I said before, we put a lot on his plate. And he has a lot to process and think about. And we put him in that spot as a slot nickel corner. He wears a lot of hats. He's in the run game, he's covering man to man. He's in zone. He's got a pattern match. He makes a lot of adjustments.

“So, I mean, I like where Avonte is. I like where he's going. And he's doing a really good job for us playing winning football in that spot.”

Maddox, 26, in 2021 had a career-high 73 tackles with 5 TFLs, 1 interception and half a sack. He finished the season as PFF’s 23rd-best overall cornerback in the NFL with a career-high grade of 71.0.

The Eagles used a fourth-round pick on Maddox out of Pitt back in 2018 and he has shown off his versatility ever since. In addition to playing the nickel corner spot, he’s also played safety and outside cornerback. In 2020, out of necessity, the Eagles played Maddox opposite Slay outside as their CB2. Maddox battled but he was clearly out of position and didn’t have a great season.

But when the Eagles signed Steve Nelson as a free agent last summer, it allowed them to move Maddox inside where he belongs. Maddox thrived in 2021 and PFF recently called him the ninth-best nickel corner in the NFL.

Because of Maddox’s success in 2021, it was likely he was going to stay inside no matter what in 2022 and that was solidified when the Eagles signed Bradberry.

So, sure, those other cornerbacks are very good and will make their appearances on this countdown soon. But don’t forget about Maddox, who plays a unique position just about as well as anyone in the NFL.

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