Eagles feature

Ricks hoping he did enough to make Eagles' 53-man roster

Eli Ricks stood out in the preseason but did the UDFA from Alabama do enough to make the Eagles' roster?

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All Eli Ricks can do now is wait.

And hope he makes the Eagles’ initial 53-man roster.

“I’ve done all I could to prove why I should be on this 53,” Ricks said, “so I won’t have any regrets whatever the decision is.”

The undrafted rookie cornerback out of Alabama came on strong late this summer and played especially well in the preseason. Ricks had a pick-6 in the first game in Baltimore and capped the preseason with another good showing against the Colts on Thursday night.

What made his performance against the Colts even more impressive was that it came against starters, including bigger targets in Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce. Head coach Nick Sirianni told his players on Wednesday night that the Colts planned on playing their starers.

“I really wanted to see how I fared against a starting group and I feel like I did pretty good,” Ricks said. “I hope to get more of that in the future, but tonight was a great, great night, especially with the other two preseason games leading into this. It was a great build up.”

It wasn’t long ago that people were talking about Ricks as a potential first-round pick. Heck, in those way-too-early 2023 mock drafts, Ricks was still considered to be a Day 1 or Day 2 player. But he ended up going undrafted and signing with the Eagles.

Ricks’ best college season came as a freshman at LSU in 2021, when he had four interceptions and nine pass breakups. But his second season at LSU was marred by injury and his 2022 season after transferring to Alabama didn’t go to plan either. He missed some games with injury again and fell completely out of the draft.

That’s a far fall in a year. Entering the NFL as an undrafted player wasn’t what anyone ever expected for Ricks.

“This has been a very hard experience for me,” he said. “I’m usually the first guy called on ever since I’ve played football. Now it’s totally opposite and I have to prove my spot to be here. That’s really all my focus has been, just shifting my mindset and I grew a lot as a person from that. Showing how to be supportive of my other teammates when I’m not out there, stuff like that, so it’s been a real growing experience.

“Then mentally, football-wise, it’s probably been the best since I started playing 

football. I feel so natural out there, I feel so calm, and I’m really good with this playbook, so I feel great.”

Ricks explained that as an undrafted guy, he knew he needed to do extra to stand out and show he belonged. He did that with his pick-6 in the preseason opener. Ricks said he told some people he was going to get an interception in that game but he didn’t know he’d take it to the house. It was his first pick-6 since his freshman year at LSU, when he earned the nickname Pick Six Ricks.

While Ricks played well on defense this preseason, he said his favorite play in Thursday’s game was the 73-yard kick return from Devon Allen to start the game. Ricks was out there blocking.

If he does make the roster as the sixth cornerback, special teams will be a big reason why.

“Even though the PBUs are great, that was my favorite play,” he said. “I heard the crowd screaming louder and I said, ‘If they’re screaming louder, that means he’s still up, so just keep blocking my man.’ I knew he’d cut off me because I was blocking the one on kickoffs and I knew I had to make a good block.”

Ricks, 21, made a strong case to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster. The Eagles must be down to 53 by 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Of course, the top three spots on the roster at the cornerback position are reserved for starters Darius Slay, James Bradberry and Avonte Maddox. Kelee Ringo is also safe after the Eagles traded away a future third-round pick to draft him this spring. And Josh Jobe will enter the year as the top backup outside corner on the roster. That’s already five corners.

But if the Eagles keep six, Ricks has a legitimate shot.

On Thursday night, Ricks said making the team would mean “everything” to him.

“I chose to come here,” Ricks said. “The history here, so it would mean everything to be here. I’m trying to do everything I can to show why I should be here.”

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