Scouts' Take: Defensive backs

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Asante Samuel celebrates his second quarter interception. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

As the countdown to the season opener continues, the Daily News had two NFL scouts break down the Eagles by position. Each scout was provided anonymity to allow them to speak freely.

Over the next few days here on Eagletarian, we will provide the "Scouts' Take," with the full rundown appearing in Thursday's special Daily News preview section.

Here is what the scouts had to say about the secondary:

Scout 1: "Basically, what you’ve got are three Lamborghinis playing corner and two very average athletes at safety in (Jarrad) Page and (Kurt) Coleman. You combine that with average linebackers and a lot of teams are going to try to attack their safeties and ‘backers. I’m fascinated by the whole thing at corner. (Asante) Samuel might be the best zone corner in the league. He has the instincts and ability to make plays on the ball and intercept the ball. There are quarterbacks in the league who are scared to death to throw the ball to his side of the field when they’re in a zone. Then you’ve got two guys – (Nnamdi) Asomugha and (Dominique) Rodgers-Cromartie -- who made their names in the league as man corners. How they mix and match will be interesting.’’

Scout 2: "They’ve got the three best corners in the league, but they’re in the wrong scheme. They’ll have Asante playing safety sometimes against certain personnel groupings. I see Nnamdi in zone. They should be doing what the Jets are doing, what Jim Johnson did, and get in the receivers’ grills. Nnamdi was the most coveted player in free agency because he can cover people. He can take any receiver in this league out of the game. But he’s not being asked to do that. At least not yet. The safeties, I like the way Coleman plays. He’s got a nose for the ball and isn’t afraid to hit. But he may be the smallest safety in the league. There’s no way he’s staying healthy for 16 games. In this league, one of your safeties had better be able to cover. And I’m not talking go down the field and stay with the tight end. I’m talking in the red zone. You better have a guy who has a great feel for route combinations in the end zone. Not sure Coleman or Page are that guy. Maybe Allen will be when he completely recovers from his knee injury. But that could be a while.’’

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To read the previous entries:

Linebackers

Offensive line

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Speaking of the Eagles' defensive backs, thought it was interesting that the NFL Network's Michael Lombardi put together a "Dream Team" of the top players from around the league that he could fit under the salary cap.

None of the Eagles' three corners made the team, which could have partly been because of their salaries. Here are his nine DBs, with the starters marked with an asterisk.

* Eric Berry ($3,250,000)

Brent Grimes ($2,610,000)

* Aqib Talib ($1,650,000)

Morgan Burnett ($1,000,000)

* Louis Delmas ($608,750)

Brandon Flowers ($555,000)

Jairus Byrd ($480,000)

* Devin McCourty ($450,000)

Tramon Williams ($405,000)

His explainer: This group consists of five corners and four safeties. Each player is able to make a contribution in the kicking game. Safeties must be able to tackle, be physical in the run game and show range in the passing game. Instincts and awareness are critical factors a safety and all four excel in this area. At corner, the key component was finding bigger players who could play press coverage, jam at the line and win early in the route. Remember, the pass rush should be excellent. The team also needed a smaller quicker corner (Grimes) to stay with the quick, little receivers. These corners also must be able to tackle. When a team plays with a corner who cannot tackle, it is hard to balance the defense. This is another position where each player is still in his rookie contract, thus making their salaries so low.

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Also, here are the Daily News predictions for the 2011 NFL season.

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