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The Philadelphia Eagles selected Jalen Mills in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL Draft for depth, but may have found a starter in the process.
The 2016 season saw the Philadelphia Eagles finish 7-9. That placed them in the cellar of the NFC East, but even though the wins may have escaped, they found some talent in their youth movment. Originally graded as a 2nd or 3rd round talent, Jalen Mills saw his draft stock slip because of off-the-field in college. Mills, a four-year starter at the collegiate level, was selected with the 233rd pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Right off the bat, Mills turned heads in his first camp. Jim Schwartz was enamored with Mills’ confidence and tenacity. Safety Malcolm Jenkins even noted that Mills was a perfectionist. His competitive fire caught on in training camp, where Mills seemed to make the Eagles’ 2015 pick, Eric Rowe expendable. Mills’ preseason may have given fans unrealistic expectations, but he did prove he belonged at the pro level.
Mills almost slipped out of the draft entirely, and he only notched two starts in 2016. Still, the rookie played in every game, and finished the season having played 65% of the team’s total snaps. Opportunity became available as the cornerback position was a problem area for the Eagles all season.
Mills has acquired invaluable experience against some of the NFL’s best like Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons and Odell Beckham of the New York Giants. He’s potentially a solid nickle cornerback for the team. Keep in mind the nickel package is quickly becoming the base defensive set for so many teams because of the influx of offenses who rely, primarily, on the passing game. Mills has a quickness that could prove to be valuable, but his lack speed has shown up in coverage. He’s been exposed from time to time. Faster receivers have beaten him once too often.
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