Top 10 Eagles Defensive Backs of the 2010s
Over the past few days, we have been taking a look back at some of the best Eagles of the 2010s by position. First up we ranked the top 10 quarterbacks of the past decade, and next was the top 10 running backs, followed by the top 10 receivers and top 10 offensive linemen. Today we are looking at the guys that play deep on defense -- the defensive backs. The Eagles have had a carousel of cornerbacks and safeties come through Philly since the beginning of the decade. So we thought "hey, there has to be at least two handfuls of good ones in that group right? RIGHT???" Here's how we see the top 10 defensive backs between 2010-2019:
10. Quintin Mikell
While most know him for his time with the Eagles from 2003-2009, Mikell did play one season (2010) this decade with the team. It wasn't spectacular, it didn't win him any awards, but it was good. It almost seems forever ago. He is low on this list because he did only play one season this decade, he was definitely Top five overall for the 2000s. In his total Eagles career, Mikell played 123 games, made 448 tackles, defected 48 passes, intercepted 10 passes, forced seven fumbles, recovered seven fumbles (one for a touchdown), and sacked the QB four times. Not bad for a guy originally undrafted.
9. Rasul Douglas
Is Rasul Douglas the best player on this list? No. Has he been given the proper chances? No. It seems like the team does not trust him enough, but when he plays, he plays all out. He was on the Super Bowl team and was a small contributor in that season, so that gets him some extra credit. In total, Douglas has appeared in 46 games as an Eagle (with 18 starts), and has racked up 118 tackles, 25 passes defended, and five interceptions.
8. Brandon Boykin
Boykin is a forgotten player in Eagles history. Never really good enough to start, but his 2013 season was magical -- 2nd in the league in interceptions (6), along with 17 passes defended, Boykin was poised for a good career. It never really took off from there and he disappeared shortly thereafter. He is still the last Eagles cornerback with five or more interceptions in a season...so you see what they have really been working with. He'll always be remembered for that interception in Dallas in Week 17 of 2013 to secure the NFC East division title for the Birds. As an Eagle, Boykin played in 48 games (six starts) and recorded 120 tackles, 33 passes defended, seven interceptions, and one pick-six.
7. Ronald Darby
Acquired in a trade with Buffalo, Darby has been the starter since arriving in Philly. Although he has been hindered by injury most of his Eagles career, the defense always seemed to play better when he is on the field (even though there were times wide receivers embarrassed him). A starting cornerback in the Super Bowl, we will always remember that last Hail Mary in the game that he was a part of. Although, his most memorable play is the hit he took when setting up a block on Patrick Robinson's pick-six in the NFC Championship Game, where he showed just how great of a teammate he is. He would have been considered an Eagles legend if he didn't drop a would-be pick-six on the last Patriots drive right before the Hail Mary attempt. Chances are he has played his last game as an Eagle, so we won't be seeing him on the Top 10 Best DBs of the 2020s list. He played 28 games in Philadelphia (starting 27 of them) and picked up 114 tackles, 32 passes defended and six interceptions.
6. Kurt Coleman
Again, another OK player. Some see Coleman as a failed experiment, but time and time again (even as a 7th round pick) he won the starting job in camp. Plus he is still in the league after 10 seasons, so the guy has to have some skill. He is a journeyman safety that had some legitimate games for the team. His three interceptions in one game against the Washington Redskins in 2011 were the 2nd-most in a game in franchise history. He is also remembered for that hit on Austin Collie that derailed the promising receiver's career (and would probably be facing a lengthy suspension if that play happened in 2019). The team moved on from Coleman after four seasons; Coleman finished his Eagles career with 59 games played (29 starts), 221 tackles, 11 passes defended, and seven interceptions.
5. Jalen Mills
I don't care what some people may think about him, Jalen Mills absolutely deserves to be on this list (and high on this list). He isn't a shutdown corner in the slightest, but can you name two or three cornerbacks better than him this decade? Joselio Hanson? No. Avonte Maddox? Not yet. Nnamdi Asomugha? That's funny. Even as a 7th round draft pick, Mills was the 2nd-best corner this decade, and it isn't really hard to see. He doesn't put up stellar interception numbers, but he brings a fire to the defense when he plays. We have watched him shut down wide receivers in the redzone, and then the next week get torched by a rookie. He is inconsistent, but he plays with a passion that you don't see often. Plus, he was a starter in the Super Bowl and helped the Eagles earn their first ring. Enough with the slander, let's show a little praise to #31. Mills appeared in 48 games (34 starts) with 209 tackles, 37 passes defended and four interceptions.
4. Nate Allen
Nate Allen was never a fan favorite, but that is because he was given an impossible task, fill the hole left by (future Hall of Fame safety) Brian Dawkins leaving. It was unfair of us to ask of him but he tried. He started 69 games for the birds, survived a regime change with the firing of Andy Reid, and played relatively well given the circumstances. In 74 total games with the Birds, Allen recorded 324 tackles, 29 passes defended and 10 interceptions.
3. Rodney McLeod
McLeod barely edged out Allen for this #3 spot strictly on how inconsistent Allen was at times. McLeod seems to always around the ball when he is playing and makes plays when the team needs him. Malcolm Jenkins' partner in crime has been a solid complementary piece for the secondary. His most memorable play as an Eagle came in Super Bowl LII, when Brandin Cooks tried to hurdle him on 3rd down but McLeod saw it coming and slammed him short of the first down marker. The Patriots missed the ensuing field goal, so McLeod was directly responsible for saving at least three (and maybe seven points) early in the game. He has played in 49 games with the Eagles (starting all of them), and has registered 221 tackles, 23 passes defended and eight interceptions.
2. Asante Samuel
I tried justifying moving Samuel down, but I just couldn't. He only played two seasons in the 2010s, but he is far and away the best cornerback this team has had this decade. I long for the day we bring in another ballhawk cornerback like him. Samuel played in 56 total games as an Eagle, and racked up 136 tackles, 64 passes defended (6th-most in team history) and 23 interceptions (10th-most in team history). He was also selected to three Pro Bowls in Philadelphia for his great play.
1. Malcolm Jenkins
Jenkins is far and away the best DB the Eagles have had since Brian Dawkins left in 2008. This position was in shambles from 2008 to when Jenkins arrived in 2014. He hasn't missed a snap in over two seasons, and has played 99% of the team's defensive snaps since his arrival. That is all you need to know about the man. Need I say more? He solidified his status as an Eagle legend when he laid his vicious hit on Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LII, and his overall play helped the team win its first ever Lombardi Trophy. Jenkins has played in 96 games in Philadelphia, leading to 514 tackles (11th-most in team history), 58 passes defended (7th-most in team history), 11 interceptions, four pick-sixes (2nd-most in team history), 12 forced fumbles (6th-most in team history), and six fumble recoveries. His excellent play has lead to Jenkins being selected to three Pro Bowls in the decade.
The DB position was arguably the worst group for the Eagles this decade. For every Malcolm Jenkins there was an Earl Wolff and Patrick Chung. Every Asante Samuel a David Sims and Bradley Fletcher. With a deep CB class in 2020, hopefully Howie Roseman and his scouting crew will pick a player or two for the Top 10 Best DBs of the 2020s list.