Young Eagles cornerback turning heads at new position


The Eagles have a bunch of young corners battling for just a couple roster spots this summer.

Josiah Scott has found a way to stick out.

For the past few weeks, the Eagles’ backup nickel cornerback has been taking practice and games reps at safety. The extended look at him in a new position is probably a good boost for his roster chances.

Why did the Eagles want to give Scott a look at safety?

“Just his skillset,” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said earlier in camp. “That was a good little adjustment that we felt like, hey, let's take a look at him cause the nickel position is a mirrored position with the safety in some things. He is doing a good job. Happy with how he's responded to that, and we will see where it goes.”

Gannon gave that answer last Tuesday. Where has it gone? Well, on Sunday Scott took his first first-team reps at safety next to Anthony Harris. While Marcus Epps is pretty entrenched as a starter — he appeared to be healthy — it’s telling that the Eagles worked Scott in.

At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Scott doesn’t necessarily have prototypical safety size. But that doesn’t seem to bother the Eagles.

“I think he’s smart, he’s physical,” said Harris, who has years of experience in the NFL and playing under Gannon. “A lot of times there’s ideas about a prototypical this and a prototypical that. But at the end of the day, it’s just football.

“We try to have guys who are football players that can do multiple things. I think he’s just doing a good job of accepting and embracing whatever the coaches ask.”

Heck, the Eagles have an example of another smaller safety who found success on their roster already. Avonte Maddox has become one of the better starting nickel corners in the NFL but back in 2018, when he was a rookie, the Eagles asked him to play safety out of necessity. He played really well.

Maddox became the shortest Eagles safety ever and their lightest since 1980. But the things that have made Maddox such a good nickel made him a pretty good safety.

“[Maddox has] got excellent quickness and great eyes for the football,” former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said in a 2018 interview. “He's got the combination of being able to cover and being able to play the run. All the things we liked about him as nickel, we also like about him as a safety. And I think we'll see more of him going forward in that role.”

The Eagles’ presumed starters at safety are Harris and Epps, but the situation is murkier beyond that. Jaquiski Tartt, K’Von Wallace and Andre Chachere are all fighting for roster spots. But without any of them really laying claim, Scott has shown he can play back there.

Scott, 23, was drafted in the fourth round by the Jaguars out of Michigan State back in 2020. He came to Philly before last season in a trade for CB Jameson Houston and a sixth-round pick. In 2021, Scott played at total of just 90 snaps on defense but excelled on special teams. He played 171 special teams snaps during the season and was one of their gunners on the punt team for the playoff game in Tampa.

So Scott is already a trusted special teamer, a career nickel cornerback and now he’s added safety to his resume.

All that just might add up to a roster spot.

“He’s shown that he can do both,” Maddox said. “Just coming from my experience playing both, it’s just showing that you’re able to play multiple positions and be able to compete at a high level at them. Making the depth better on the depth chart. You’ve got guys that can play multiple positions, it’s a good thing.”

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