Eagles Safety Predicts ‘Breakout Season’ in New Position

Jalen Mills

Getty Jalen Mills signed a one-year deal and will transition to safety for the Eagles in 2020.

Jalen Mills has never lacked for confidence. From the neon green hair to hi electric end zone celebrations, so naturally, he’s expecting a huge 2020 campaign.

Mills, who inked a one-year deal worth $4 million this offseason, will be transitioning over to strong safety after spending his first four years at cornerback. He has some big shoes to fill as the Eagles expect him to step into Malcolm Jenkins’ all-encompassing shadow. No worries. He’s ready to hold his own against the NFL’s elite.

“I feel like, at my position, my competitiveness and the position that I (know) this Eagles defense is going to be able to put me in to make the plays that I know I can make, that I’m going to have a breakout season,” Mills told 97.5 The Fanatic, via NJ Advance Media. “I’m ready for it, so as far as when we’re talking about any type of other players and bringing in other guys, especially at the safety position, I definitely feel like I can hold my own.”

Mills had already channeled his inner Kobe Bryant and LeBron James when he announced a number change, from No. 31 to No. 21. The 26-year-old is “recreating himself” as he steps into a bigger role, maybe even vying for a spot on the Eagles’ leadership council.

“You see Kobe went from 8 to 24, you know, LeBron went from 6 to 23,” Mills told reporters in late March. “It’s just recreating myself. Recreating that Green Goblin, that monster. It’s a new position, it’s a new feel, and it’s going to be new energy.”

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Genard Avery Looking to Turn Heads in 2020

Another player to keep a close eye on in 2020 is defensive end Genard Avery. He’s been working out with the noted Footwork King, aka Rischad Whitfield, and packed on a ton of muscle. The 25-year-old looks ripped. The Eagles recently announced he was the co-winner of their offseason program on the defensive line.

“He’s a beast. He’s an animal,” Whitfield said of Avery. “Genard plays defensive line. I’m training him like a defensive lineman and a linebacker. A lot of change of directions, quick footwork and change of directions in tight areas because he plays downhill. You got to be an efficient mover on the football field.”

Fletcher Cox called Avery a “maniac in the weight room” earlier this offseason and Brandon Graham also predicted a big year for the former Browns pass rusher. Remember, Avery recorded 4.5 sacks during his rookie year in Cleveland and the Eagles surrendered a fourth-round pick to get him. The organization loves him but didn’t have the time to develop him in 2019.

“He’s a bit of a hybrid player, and when we got him, we needed to have a specific plan for the way we were going to use him,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz told reporters last November. “First week we used him just a little bit, used him a little bit more as a defensive end in this last game, but we’ve used him as a hybrid linebacker in there, also. He’s done a nice job working really hard to make the most of his opportunities when he’s been out there.”

Avery saw action in eight games last season and tallied half a sack, on his very first snap. He finished with 180 snaps, including just 33 total snaps on defense and 147 on special teams. Look for him to earn more snaps with a strong showing at training camp.

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