C.J Smith was an undrafted free agent in 2016 and saw a limited amount of snaps in the 10 games he played as a rookie. Now, the 24-year-old is turning heads in Eagles training camp. Both the media and his teammates have gone out of their way to compliment his progress.
All-Pro Safety Malcolm Jenkins was the first to notice a difference in the 5′-11″ sophomore corner this offseason. “I don’t think we’ve seen anybody catch a ball on him in about four days… I think there is a big difference in him between the spring and the summer.” While much of the Philadelphia media has continued to notice free agent veteran Patrick Robinson get burned on a daily basis, Smith seems to always be in position. In fact, Jeff Mclane called Smith his dark horse for one of the top three roster spots.
NFL Network analyst and one of the Eagles pre-season announcers, Mike Mayock, was the latest to point out Smith’s training camp so far. “Every time I’ve been at their practices, number 37 looks to me to be a solid corner,” Mayock said on an appearance with 97.5’s Mike Missanelli. With C.J. continuing to progress in year two and rookie Rasul Douglas struggling a bit to transition while Sidney Jones continues to rehab, the door is wide open for competition.
As we wrote in our New to the Nest Series Pt. 3 – Patrick Robinson “Robinson may start the season, but will most likely share time with the rest of the corner backs in a rotation as this is the weakest part of the team. Don’t be surprised if he’s not good enough to keep his starter status by mid-season.” This is where C.J. could take the lead if Robinson struggles in live action this pre-season.
The bottom line is that the corner position will be the weakest spot on this team in 2017, but if Smith looks to be the best option, he should earn a starting spot opposite Jalen Mills.