The Eagles made crucial moves on Saturday to fill holes on the defensive side of the ball. After letting Malcolm Jenkins, Kamu Grugier-Hill, and Nigel Bradham walk in free agency, the team added Will Parks and Jatavius Brown to ease the losses of three key starters.
Parks is a native of Philadelphia and went to Germantown High School. He graduated in 2012 and went on to play four years at Arizona before Denver drafted him in the 6th round of the 2016 Draft. Brown is a former member of the Los Angeles Chargers (almost typed San Diego) but is coming off of a disappointing 2019 season in which he saw significant cuts to his play time.
Draft reports from 2016 showed that Parks will have a similar role to Malcolm Jenkins has on defense. Parks is larger-sized for a safety at 6′ and 204 lbs. He ran a 4.6 forty which would be considered towards the bottom half for safeties. But the report looks more into his play style as a safety who can play inside the box and cover tight ends and receivers in the slot, which was Jenkins primary role on defense.
He was also complimented as a solid run-stuffer who can break through blocking and make tackles in the open field. This is something the Eagles could certainly use on defense as the team has had recent struggles with tackling in the secondary. It’s also nice to see he chose to come back to Philly over signing elsewhere.
Will Parks has also been recognized recently for what he’s been doing off the field. After his uncle was fatally shot in North Philadelphia in August of 2018, Parks started a campaign to combat gun violence in the city. He used the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign to do so. He donated $15,000 to the Philadelphia Ceasefire organization to support the cause saying, “I chose this cause because with my platform, and everything I have going on in life right now, I can spark that energy for people to actually make an effort to stop these kids, these people from dying to guns.” It’s difficult to imagine the pain he’s gone through with his uncle’s death but there’s a lot of inspiration for his efforts and leadership he’s taken to help fix the problems in his community.
Brown is a near opposite type of player at his position. Despite being a linebacker, he’s much more versatile compared to Parks and ran a 4.4 in 2016. His draft reports indicate that as a linebacker, he’s weaker against the run but is solid in coverage with a ton of athleticism. He didn’t have a large role in LA last year after starting 22 games in his first three seasons, but his experience on special teams is a boost for the Eagles who tend to target guys with that kind of experience.
There are various unknown reasons why Brown didn’t play much in 2019 but in a new atmosphere, he should be able to blossom. Just watch his athletic ability and hit power on this play.
The Eagles are thin at linebacker so I’d expect Brown to start. He signed here on a one-year “prove me” (as did Parks) deal to try to get a larger contract if he does well with the birds. He’ll start in the team’s common two linebacker scheme alongside either Nate Gerry, T.J Edwards, or possibly an additional LB that could be added via the draft or free agency.
It’s certainly exciting to see the team making these moves on defense along with the trade for Darius Slay and signing DT Javon Hargrave earlier this week. All four of these new additions are between the ages of 25 and 29 and in the prime of their careers. Now the focus must turn to fixing the problems at the wide receiver position.