The Eagles didn’t exactly give up a lot for cornerback Daryl Worley. Torrey Smith had a decent 2017, and was productive when it mattered most in the postseason, but the Eagles did seemingly well to get something in return for a veteran wide receiver who would have likely been released.
Worley, a 2016 third round draft pick out of West Virginia, started in 25 of 31 games during his first two seasons with the Panthers. He has good size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and length (33-3/8-inch arms) and just turned 23 last month. But he’s not considered a great athlete. His 40-yard dash at the combine (4.64 seconds) was among the slowest at cornerback and he didn’t test well overall.
Elite speed isn’t a prerequisite for playing the position in the NFL, but it certainly helps, particularly for press-man corners. Worley has good size for playing at the line, but he prefers off coverage. He generally keeps receivers in front and tackles well, but a lack of explosiveness can put him in tough spots.
Worley had an up-and-down second season. He was benched in the Week 6 loss to the Eagles, and split time for the next several games. But he was a regular down the stretch and appeared to perform more consistently. It’s unclear how the Eagles envision using Worley or where he fits in the secondary puzzle. With Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas under contract, the Eagles could be open to trading one of their cornerbacks.
Free agent Patrick Robinson is also not completely out of the picture, but Worley would be an unlikely candidate to replace him in the slot. It’s possible the Eagles foresee a potential move to safety for the Philadelphia native.
But most of the film on Worley is on the outside. The trade won’t become official until Wednesday, but here’s a closer look at the Eagles’ new cornerback:
Worley spent most of his time on the right side. The left is considered the more difficult side vs. righthanded quarterbacks because cornerbacks have less time to react. When Worley pressed he typically didn’t use his hands at the release. In the Panthers’ playoff loss against the Saints, he faced off against several receivers, but on this play, he got the better of Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas. Worley (No. 26, bottom) disrupted the route and looked back to knock the ball incomplete.
Worley was sometimes susceptible to double moves off the line. He would lunge and get turned around. On this play he was beat by Vikings receiver Adam Thielen for a 15-yard slant (bottom).
And on this one against the Jets, Worley (bottom) was flagged for illegal use of hands.
Worley usually plays about 10 yards back in off coverage. The extra room gives him time to react vs. deep routes like this post Bucs receiver Chris Godwin (bottom) ran against him.
Godwin got the better of Worley earlier in that December game with a dig route (top). The cornerback was late to react for whatever reason – Too stiff? Slow recognition? – and the Bucs gained 70 yards after Worley failed to bring Godwin down.
Worley kept Saints receiver Brandon Coleman in front on a similar route, but he gave too much cushion and surrendered an 18-yard catch and run here (bottom).
Worley has decent ball skills. On this play, he got caught biting on a Davante Adams double move and had to chase the receiver, who had gotten behind him. But Worley looked back and recognized that quarterback Aaron Rodgers was under pressure as he threw across his body. The ill-advised pass fell short and Worley got into position to make a leaping interception (bottom).
His only other interception of the season came under similar circumstances. Thielen used a double move to get by the cornerback, but the pass was underthrown and to the wrong side and Worley tracked the ball and made the pick (top).
Worley had 14 tackles in 231 run snaps, which was among the best percentage of stops among cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. On this play in the playoffs, he knifed in unblocked and cut running back Alvin Kamara down after a short gain.
On this play, Worley dropped into a zone and came up to make an open-field tackle after a short gain.
Worley missed 11 tackles on the season, though, and was ranked 69th out of 80 cornerbacks in tackling efficiency, per PFF. He not only whiffed here, but he slowed up as Bucs receiver Freddie Martino picked up an additional 15 yards or so (bottom).
BENCHED VS. THE EAGLES
In the game before the Panthers hosted the Eagles on Thursday night, Worley was flagged twice for pass interference against the Lions. He gave up only two early passes against the Eagles – a 6-yarder by Smith and this 16-yard catch by Marcus Johnson (top).
A few plays later, Worley took a poor angle on this 14-yard run by LeGarrette Blount.
When the Eagles offense took the field for their next possession, Kevon Seymour was at right cornerback. Worley saw a few select snaps in the final three quarters, but a message had been clearly sent.
“Everyone’s in this league to play, right? No one likes sitting on the sidelines,” Worley said to reporters after the game. “It is what it is. I’m here for the team. I’m doing whatever they ask me to do to win. If they don’t feel as though they can win with me on the field, then I guess so be it.”
THE ROAD BACK
Worley started the following week, but he continued to share time with Seymour. By December, however, he was firmly atop the depth chart and had strong outings against the Jets, Saints and Bucs. On this play, Jets quarterback Josh McCown got Worley to “show” his coverage, but he closed and broke up a pass intended for receiver Jermaine Kearse (bottom).
MOVE TO SAFETY?
Worley certainly has the size to move to safety. He played the position – along with receiver – in high school at Penn Charter. The Panthers would sometimes blitz him off the edge. On this play, he contained Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston after a broken play and was credited with a sack.
If Worley is to move to safety, he would have to cover his share of tight ends. He got the opportunity against the Eagles’ Zach Ertz, but like so many other defensive backs, couldn’t stay with the Pro Bowl tight end.