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Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Breaking down the safeties: Philadelphia

By Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.

Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson examines the safeties of each NFC East team. Today: Philadelphia Eagles

Quintin Mikell gets my vote as the best safety in the NFC East, but he is scheduled to become a free agent. If I knew that the Eagles were sure to bring him back, I would feel far more confident about this position for Philadelphia. But now it is in flux.

Mikell is one of the finest all-around safeties in football and is extremely dependable. He was terrific in 2010. He is in the prime of his career and a leader in what should shape up to be a very young secondary -- especially if the Eagles go with a cornerback early in the draft, which seems likely. This pass defense intercepted 23 passes last season but also allowed a whopping 31 touchdown receptions. His contributions often go unnoticed, but I assure you, his absence would be felt.

Compounding the uncertainty, Nate Allen was lost to a knee injury after starting his rookie season in a promising manner as Philadelphia’s starting free safety opposite Mikell. How will his body respond to the injury? Allen was beginning to fade even before the injury. He needs more work on his route recognition.

After Allen went down, he was replaced by fellow rookie Kurt Coleman. Coleman fared well all things considered, but at this stage of his career, he is best suited to be a third safety who sees time in sub-package defenses.

One wild card in this secondary is Marlin Jackson. He is a former cornerback with the Colts but could be best suited as a safety after missing the entire 2010 season with a torn Achilles tendon.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.