Elite NFL Trainer Predicts Eagles Depth Chart, Calls Defense ‘Loaded’

Rasul Douglas

Getty Rasul Douglas has been one of the few healthy cornerbacks for the Eagles this season.

The Eagles haven’t even hit training camp, yet their secondary already looks elite. Philadelphia might have the best crop of defensive backs in the NFL.

Rischad Whitfield, aka Footwork King, has been working with four defensive backs on the regular this summer — veterans Rasul Douglas, Darius Slay, Nickell Robey-Coleman, plus undrafted rookie Grayland Allen — and the results have been staggeringly good. In fact, the renowned Houston-based trainer thinks the Eagles own a championship-caliber secondary.

“The Eagles are loaded at defense. If there was ever going to be a year for them to win the division or the conference or the Super Bowl, it’s going to be this year,” Whitfield told Heavy.com. “Just the addition with [Darius] Slay and Nickell Robey [Coleman] … it’s go time. Go time. I know what those boys can do.”

If anyone knows what they are talking about, it’s Whitfield. The kinesiology major from the University of Houston has been training elite athletes since 2010, a passionate hobby he fell into after injuries ended his own college football career. He focuses on teaching the mechanics behind the movements and relies on what he calls “The Octagon,” a maze of cones in which players must get low to the ground and swiftly change direction.

“I feel like, whomever I’m working with, my name is on the back of that jersey, too,” Whitfield said. “I make sure, the way I train … I expect the best and I expect a lot out of them.”

First, the biggest misconception surrounding cornerbacks is they have to be fast. They don’t. They need to break quickly and efficiently off the line of scrimmage. It’s all about having disciplined feet, according to Whitfield. Once they learn the proper technique, he removes the cones and the muscle memory activates their feet and hips.

“There are receivers that aren’t that fast that beat corners all the time, guys like Davante Adams and Keenan Allen,” said Whitfield, who trains both of those elite receivers. “Thing is, everybody thinks that cornerbacks need to be fast but actually you don’t. Corners are doing everything in reverse so the issue is everybody tries to go out and draft fast corners but they are not quick-footed, they have undisciplined feet … quick hips are great but receivers aren’t always running in a straight line.”

His methods aren’t limited to cornerbacks, either. Whitfield works with all different positions, including guys like LeVeon Bell, Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins, Rashan Gary, Kendall Sheffield, Mecole Hardman, Melvin Gordon, Emmanuel Sanders and David Montgomery. His newest client is Eagles pass-rusher Genard Avery.

“He’s a beast. He’s an animal,” Whitfield said of Avery. “Oh, he’s working with me now? Wait until you see him when he gets done with me. They always leave moving way better. If somebody can get there in three steps, I’m going to find a way to get them there in one and a half steps.”

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Rasul Douglas ‘Locked In’ & Coming for Starting Job

Whitfield’s eyes light up when talking about his newest prized pupil, Rasul Douglas. It’s not a matter of if he wins the starting cornerback job opposite Slay, it’s a matter of when.

“He’s going to be the starter coming out of training camp,” Whitfield said of Douglas. “If you watch Rasul, everybody thought he was just getting beat by speed. He really wasn’t. He was getting beat before the receiver turned on the speed. It was a footwork and leverage issue. His technique was good. His hips weren’t as fluid. We’ve been working so hard.”

Douglas went down to Houston on June 28 to start his training, one that consists of two 1-hour, 10-minute sessions every day for a month. It’s necessary to get the work in before camp starts because position coaches don’t take the extra time to mentor and fix mistakes. Players are fighting for jobs at that point.

“I only need a month. I’m like a blacksmith,” Whitfield said. “These kids got skills, I just need to take those skills and put them under the fire and beat the irons off them and give them back to them. In the pros, there’s not much teaching going on.”

The first thing Whitfield noticed was that Douglas was too low in his stance, dropping his hips and bending at the waist. That’s a no-no in man-press coverage. Now the fourth-year cornerback looks more fluid and strong. And less likely to get beat on double moves.

“I got him to where his feet just scrape the ground,” Whitfield said. “When he was playing man-press coverage he was kind of just picking his feet up. The kid [Douglas] is long and he can run. He’s a long strider. He wasn’t moving efficiently. Before any receiver can get into any route, they need release separation. He was getting beat at the line.”

Not anymore. Whitfield believes he has molded Douglas into a capable starter — a far cry from a player that was benched at the end of last season and rumored to be on the trading block.

“His mind is set,” he said. “If I were the Eagles, I wouldn’t get rid of him.”

Lions Idiots for Trading ‘Best Cornerback’ in Football

Slay is arguably the best cornerback in football, or on a shortlist of candidates at the very least. Whitfield beams with pride when discussing the three-time Pro Bowl player who the Eagles acquired from Detroit for a third- and fifth-round pick. That blockbuster deal was highway robbery.

“Matt Patricia is a fu**ing idiot. I’m not lying, that dude is an idiot,” Whitfield said. “I don’t think people understand what you’re getting in Slay. He takes away an entire side of the football field and it makes everybody else better. He’s brilliant. He recognizes routes and patterns. He doesn’t get beat.”

Whitfield referred to Slay as the “best cornerback in the NFL” at one point during a recent conversation with Heavy.com, then backtracked ever so slightly. Remember, Footwork King also coaches the likes of Joe Haden, Richard Sherman, Xavien Howard and Kendall Sheffield. He has been training Slay for three years now.

“Let me tell you how good Slay is, wherever the No. 1 [receiver] is, that’s where he’s going to be,” Whitfield said. “Slay can play slot, outside, wherever the No. 1 is going. I don’t know why it’s taken some people so long to recognize that. I know he doesn’t have 18 picks … but he’s really, really elite. I trained him on the Lions. He’s a huge addition to the Eagles.”

Back to that championship-caliber Eagles secondary for a second. Whitfield already has the depth chart figured out.

“If Slay is over there and you got NRC [Nickell Robey-Coleman] in the slot, that’s a wrap,” he said. “And Rasul is going to hold his side down because Slay is going to make him better, too. The Eagles got nothing to worry about, I promise you.”

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