Each Sunday we'll examine a potential draft pick for the Eagles -- first round or otherwise. Today we'll take a look at a Cornhusker corner.
Height/Weight: 6-2, 220
Stanley Jean-Baptiste has been one of my personal favorites for months. Entering the Senior Bowl, he was a very underrated defensive back around the scouting community and an unknown to most fans. But after a strong week of practices in Mobile, Ala., and a solid performance during the game, Jean-Baptiste’s stock is skyrocketing, and NFL decision makers are buzzing about what he could be.
It wasn’t too long ago that Jean-Baptiste began his collegiate career as a JUCO transfer from Fort Scott Community College in Kansas, struggling to find a place on Nebraska’s wide receiver depth chart. Possessing a unique blend of size, athleticism and ball skills, Jean-Baptiste had all of the makings of being a quality receiver for the 'Huskers, but the numbers game caught up to him at the receiver position, and head coach Bo Pelini decided it was best that Jean-Baptiste make the move from offense to defense and line up at cornerback, where the depth wasn’t as exceptional.
Over the past two seasons or so, Jean-Baptiste has been developing his craft at the cornerback position. In just 19 career starts, he amassed 68 tackles (four for a loss), one sack and six interceptions.
With every start, Jean-Baptiste gets better and better, and his size and skill set are intriguing to the point that this once under-the-radar mid-round prospect could ultimately ascend into first-round consideration, where the Eagles hold the 22nd overall pick and are in need of a dynamic difference maker in the secondary.
Jean-Baptiste is still developing his overall game, but he has the ability to be a shutdown corner. He’s an explosive athlete, who plays with a good degree of suddenness. For his size, he adjusts well to the receiver coming out of his breaks by showcasing the ability to flip his hips, redirect and plant sharply, driving back to the ball. He can be intimidating to the opposition with his rangy frame, long arms and physical approach at the line of scrimmage. He quickly locates the ball in the air, keeps his head on a swivel, and positions himself to make a play with his exceptional ball skills. He diagnoses the action in front of him, displays good awareness and instincts, and is physical moving towards the ball from all angles. He could potentially provide a team with some versatility and line up at safety, which he played when he was in high school.
While his ceiling is very high, Jean-Baptiste is still raw at the cornerback position and has a tendency to bite on double moves and give up the big play. He has the look of a gambler and likes to go for the flashy play rather than the safe play. He’s still learning how to use his size in coverage and could be more physical throughout routes. Being a long, rangy corner, his straight-line speed could be a concern at the next level, especially on vertical routes.
How he’d fit with the Eagles
Enhancing the talent level on the defensive side of the ball will be the main focus of the Eagles this offseason, and the draft will be a significant part of the building process. Whether the process begins in the first or second round is up for debate.
One of the first areas the Eagles' front office will address is the secondary. For the most part, the secondary played much better than anticipated this past season with Brandon Boykin, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher playing key roles. But as well as they played, it’s obvious that upgrades are needed on the perimeter and at safety. The infusion of a big, physical playmaker like Jean-Baptiste, who offers some versatility with his frame and athleticism, would be a welcome addition.
Defensive coordinator Billy Davis implemented an attacking 3-4 scheme in 2013. Despite a slow transition in the beginning, the Eagles ended up allowing a very respectable 22 points or fewer to the opposition in 11 of their last 12 regular season games. They ranked fourth in the NFL in takeaways with 30. But for Davis' defense to reach its full potential, he needs to continue to add playmakers on the outside, whether it’s off the edge or on the perimeter.
Davis, Chip Kelly and the Eagles' front office are looking for a particular skill set and certain attributes in their defensive players. At the cornerback position they prefer taller, physical and well-conditioned athletes, who can be disruptive and create game-changing opportunities. Jean-Baptiste fits the mold.
Prospect Reflection: Aqib Talib (Kansas), 2008: First round (20th overall) by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Draft Projection: 1st – 2nd Round (top 30 – 50)