Eagles Might Have ‘Sleeper Pick’ at Strong Safety Position

Grayland Arnold

Getty Grayland Arnold went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft but could prove to be a steal for the Eagles.

The Eagles are hoping Jalen Mills can replace Malcolm Jenkins at strong safety. Keep an eye on another name buried deep down the depth chart.

Grayland Arnold surprisingly went undrafted out of Baylor despite being a multi-dimensional safety and punt returner in college. He only played in 30 total games for the Bears but made the most out of all his snaps. Arnold finished with six interceptions and returned 12 kicks for 149 yards to earn second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2019. The scouts thought he should have stayed for his final year of eligibility. Arnold disagreed.

“At the end of the day, if I get an inch, I’ll take a mile,” Arnold told KCEN-TV prior to the draft. “I need to get my feet in the door, regardless if it’s drafted or undrafted.”

Arnold was listed as a cornerback at Baylor but he played mostly safety over the past two seasons, moving around in between free and strong. In addition to his ball-hawking skills, the savvy 22-year-old finished his redshirt junior year with a career-high 45 tackles and one sack.

“I am always looking to make a play, every play, regardless of what the situation,” Arnold told SportsRadio 94WIP. “It could be on a field goal. I am looking to make a play. That is just how I play. I play free. I play with a lot of energy, and have fun at the end of the day.”

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Arnold Working Out with ‘Footwork King’

Rischad Whitfield has been molding quite a few Eagles this summer, including Darius Slay, Rasul Douglas, Genard Avery and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Add Arnold’s name to that vaunted list.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder knows how much the Eagles value versatile and agile players in their secondary and the noted “Footwork King” is drilling Arnold in the hopes he can steal a spot with a solid training camp.

He has great burst and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.59 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, but it’s his forceful tackling that has impressed Whitfield. It’s a trait he needs to perfect to earn a roster spot alongside fellow thumpers Rodney McLeod and K’Von Wallace.

“He’s a strong safety that will put a dent in any tackle,” Whitfield said. “He’s a thumper. He’s a good tackler, with good burst and explosion. Allen is more of a safety, a nickel or strong safety. But he has the movement skills of a corner.”

His best shot to make the team remains at the safety position. Mills and McLeod are entrenched as the two starters, with Wallace and Will Parks likely to rotate in on nickel packages. Arnold will have to make a name for himself on special teams but his versatility — hybrid safety/corner — makes him an intriguing “sleeper pick,” according to Whitfield.

“I got Grayland moving like a corner,” Whitfield said. “You want to talk about fluid movements? Oh man, he’s going to be a surprise at camp. They are going to find somewhere for him to play.”

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