Malcolm Jenkins is one of the best Eagles defenders of the past decade, a true Birds great with a Super Bowl ring to boot. He's forever a hero in Philadelphia.
So when he speaks about the state of the team, even now as a retired NFLer after 13 tremendous years in the league, fans tend to listen.
And this week on the Eagles Unfiltered podcast Jenkins had a message for anyone worried about the Birds' safeties:
MORE: Eagles’ thumping LB lands on list of most important players
Don't sweat it. Marcus Epps can do this job.
Which is good news, because the Eagles spent resources basically everywhere this offseason... except safety. They brought Anthony Harris back, they brought Marcus Epps back, and they added veteran Jaquiski Tartt on a 1-year deal. That's it. On a team suddenly dreaming of a deep postseason run, safety is the position most fans have questions about.
But here's why Jenkins thinks Epps is up for the challenge:
"When I was there, he was a player that was behind me and Rodney [McLeod] but was rising fast on the depth chart, somebody who's physically gifted and smart enough to understand defenses and where he needs to be in alignments and leverage. I think he's soaked up a lot of game, and that was one of the things I recognized about him early was, you know, he's somebody who wants to know how he can become the best player he can. He'd stick around late after meetings and ask questions and watch extra tape, and so for me I know that, just because of those things, he's going to be fine.
"Obviously he's gonna have a ton of expectations, and we know how Philadelphia feels about its safeties, so it's a daunting task. But like anybody, he's got to take the same approach and deal with the same stuff that even I went through, where you can't try to be Dawkins or myself or whoever - because you can't. I've tried, I've done that before, I've watched Dawkins' tape. I can't do what he does. That's why he is who he is.
"So he's gotta figure out what he does really well. I think he's got great ball skills, I think he's got range, he tackles well. As long as he can continue to develop his game and what he does well, and tries to be the best Epps he can be, I think he'll be fine."
You love to hear it!
Epps, 26, has appeared in 45 games but has just eight career starts to his name, all of which came in the past two seasons. He's notched 3 INTs and 9 passes defended since the start of 2020, solid numbers for a safety, and received a pretty solid 72.8 grade from Pro Football Focus for his play in 2021.
We still need to see more from the Wyoming product, but there do indeed seem to be bones of a player who can excel in a regular starter role.
I also love that Jenkins watched Dawkins tape during his time with the Eagles and concluded that he just couldn't do the stuff that Weapon X could so, so he blazed his own path instead. They were two distinctly great safeties, the two best in franchise history.
No one's saying Epps is in line to be the next legendary Birds backstop, but if he's got Jenkins' vote of confidence that's certainly a step in the right direction.