The Eagles have seemingly suffered from inconsistent secondary play ever since Brian Dawkins departed for the chilly, mountainous city of Denver, Colorado. The team saw one of the most prolific safeties in NFL history leave, only to be replaced by a revolving door of safeties and eventually, a rookie safety from the University of South Florida in Nate Allen.
Wow! Yes! Boom!
These were all words shouted after each and every Nate Allen interception and hit. The kid played lights out football in only his first season, but that season came to a close early. After being sidelined for the rest of year with a knee injury, many fans held on with baited breath. Would this be the end of a promising player's career? Would he be the player that comes back every year only to be placed on IR at the middle of the season because of a nagging injury? But then the news...
Nate Allen's surgery was successful and he will make a full recovery by the start of the season.
The question mark now focuses to the opposite side of Allen. Who will start along with him now that Quintin Mikell, the protégé to Brian Dawkins, is a free agent? It's not known for sure, but all signs point to Jaiquawn Jarrett, a former Temple University standout and second-round draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Should fans be worried? It's easy to err on the side of caution and say yes and Shawn Zobel of DraftHeadquarters.com agrees.
"He's a raw prospect who still needs development," says Zobel. "If there had been OTA's, I think he could have developed quickly enough to compete for the starting job off the bat, but he still needs work."
Clearly, the lockout is a major factor in the development of some players and could potentially predict the outcome of a rookie's future. Jarrett didn't have the offseason that Nate Allen had when coming into the NFL. Remember, both Allen and Jarrett were second-round selections, but Jarrett came from Temple, which is a school placed in a less-challenging conference (MAC) than South Florida (Big East). Therefore, more time to develop and adjust to the NFL way of life would be ideal.
"I think, in the grand scheme of things, using 2011 as a redshirt year before moving him into the starting lineup in 2012 would be a great idea. His upside is very high and you don't want to stunt his development with a lack of an offseason like he's had this summer."
If the Eagles' brass agrees, they could have plans to re-sign Quintin Mikell once the lockout ends so that Jarrett will have more time to develop. If not, Jarrett will be in for a trial-by-fire type of season.
Jarrett's short offseason is concerning, but this shouldn't be the "be all end all." Zobel believes that he is a very talented football player who will be successful at the next level.
"A leader both on and off the field who was awarded with Academic, Sportsmanship, Scholar-Athlete, and "Spirit, Dedication, & Loyalty" awards throughout his career, Jarrett has top-notch intangibles that you look for in a future leader at the next level."
"He's a strong player who displays the type of technique that you look for in a safety. Jaiquawn has good range and can close quickly when he needs to. I really like the way that Jarrett defends the run. He does a great job of playing downhill in the run game and I like the way that he patiently waits for the running back to come through the hole to stick him and drive him backwards. He's a physical player who loves to lower his shoulder and take down the ball carrier with a hard hit. He hits like a truck when given the opportunity to do so."
So the ability is clearly there, but unless Jarrett is a quick learner, he may be in for a rude awakening when he plants his cleats into the ground in a month.