Happy Super Bowl week everyone! One of the highest rated and physically gifted athletes in college, this senior cornerback has all the tools and declared for the 2020 NFL Draft. How does Kristian Fulton fit with the Philadelphia Eagles? Let’s take a look. Before we get started, here are some links to our previous Eagles draft targets.
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
- Henry Ruggs III, WR, Bama
- Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado
- Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
- Grant Delpit, S, LSU
- Trevon Diggs, CB, Bama
A Look at Fulton’s College Performance
While watching tape on Kristian Fulton, there were some interesting similarities I caught between Fulton and my most recent Eagles draft target, corner Trevon Diggs from Alabama. Neither prospect played the majority of their freshman and sophomore seasons. Fulton and Diggs both began to turn some heads during their junior season. However, both prospects had their second to last season end short due to injury. Both prospects have the length, athleticism and size to become a top-notch corner in the NFL.
Kristian Fulton was a prized, 5-star recruit (22nd in the country) and the #1 prospect in Louisiana. Similar to Diggs, Kristian Fulton played only 3 games his freshman season due to a fractured right ring finger. However, unlike Trevon Diggs, Fulton didn’t have to switch to the other side of the field. His college career got off to a questionable start after being suspended for two years after tampering with a performance-enhancing drug test in 2017. Fulton used his redshirt for the 2017 season.
One of the highest graded cornerbacks in college football…
In August 2018, new evidence surfaced that overturned the ruling and making Fulton eligible to play his junior year. Kristian Fulton played 10 games his junior season, finishing with one interception, 9 breakups and 25 total tackles. However, Kristian Fulton missed the remaining 3 games of the season after undergoing season ending surgery to repair a left foot injury. According to Pro Football Focus, Fulton only allowed 18 catches in 10 games. Despite the injury, many considered Fulton good enough to be a first round pick in last year’s draft.
Kristian Fulton returned to LSU’s secondary for his senior season, which was chock full of elite prospects in the defensive backfield. Fulton played alongside teammate Grant Delpit, 2019’s Jim Thorpe Award recipient for the nation’s top defensive back, and star, true freshman Derek Stingley, and still stood out. There really isn’t more you can say about the 2019 LSU Tigers. They finished a perfect 15-0 and won the program’s 4th national championship.
A Look at Kristian Fulton’s Senior Season…
According to Pro Football Focus, Kristian Fulton has been one of the most highly graded cornerbacks over the last two years. He outgraded teammate Greedy Williams in 2018, who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2019, with a coverage grade of 89.7. In 2019, he backed that up with an 88.9 this past season and allowed a completion percentage of 41.3% in SEC play. Fulton was named second-team AP All-SEC and was the leader of a defense that ranked 56th in the nation and allowed 221.7 passing yards per game.
According to Michael Renner from Pro Football Focus, Kristian Fulton is the second best defensive back in the class behind Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah. On January 20th, Kristian Fulton announced that he will not be attending the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The NFL Network broke the news that an undisclosed family situation is the reason for Fulton’s absence.
Current Draft Projection
- 25th – The Athletic
- 21st – Sports Illustrated
- 29th – Sporting News
- 16th – CBS Sports
- Not listed (first round only) – ESPN/Mel Kiper
A Look at the Eagles Secondary
The Eagles secondary was routinely killed last season by the big play in 2019. The Eagles were tied for 2nd most in the NFL with 15 plays of 40 yards or more on defense last season. The worst in the NFL was the Oakland Raiders with 16. The Eagles have been in the bottom of the league in turnover differential and defensive takeaways recently and finding playmakers in the secondary is now a legit priority.
Quite simply, it can only get better right? In a shocking move, the Detroit Lions hired Cory Undin to be their next defensive coordinator. I’m honestly still scratching my head with that one. When looking at the talent on this roster at cornerback, the Eagles must add 3 starting caliber outside corners on this roster. Reports indicate that former Atlanta Falcons Defensive Coordinator Marquand Manuel will come in as defensive backs coach for the Birds this season.
Jim Schwartz’s defense heavily relies, sometimes too much, on its front four generating pressure. The Eagles base defense typically includes Malcolm Jenkins in the box, therefore it is imperative that the Birds obtain a major upgrade in talent at outside corner that can stick to his man. For all the criticism Jim Schwartz receives from fans and I’m definitely one of them, there were plenty of times last year when Jalen Mills or Ronald Darby were in the right position but failed to make the play. The Eagles need playmakers and Kristian Fulton is one of them.
How does Kristian Fulton fit with the Philadelphia Eagles?
Let’s be honest: the NFL is about speed and Kristian Fulton should fit right in. This is a guy that sticks to wide receivers on the line of scrimmage and in zone coverage. Despite being 6’ with a 192 pound frame, he’s got incredible fluidity and quickness. He’s got excellent ball skills, with the quickness to jump passes and the recovery speed to stick with receivers in intermediate and deep routes.
At the end of the day, speed wins. When watching tape of Kristian Fulton, this is a guy who rarely gets beaten over the top. Kristian Fulton has an incredible combination of speed, size and length that should have Jim Schwartz salivating. Similar to my write up on Trevon Diggs, Kristian Fulton has the speed, athleticism and length to play outside corner for Jim Schwartz. It’s quite frankly a near perfect fit.
Kristian Fulton brings the physicality and speed the Eagles simply lacked last season. Despite playing well the last ten games, the Eagles defense was too old and too slow across the board. The youth on the Birds not taking the next step in their development just killed the team. I’m looking at you Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Derek Barnett.
Areas Kristian Fulton Needs to Strengthen
A Bit Too Grabby: While he may be elite at sticking with wide receivers in their routes, Kristian Fulton can get a bit too close and may be prone to penalties at the next level. Fulton can become too aggressive with receivers down field and show better timing during 50-50 balls. This could lead to brutal pass interference calls at the next level. Learning better technique will be a major focus point for Kristian Fulton when he first puts on that NFL jersey.
Expectations for 2020
Whether injury or lack of drafting, the secondary is a major question mark for the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. Will Malcolm Jenkins get the Brian Dawkins treatment by Howie Roseman? Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc are best in the slot and Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are free agents. Who will be the starting outside corners for the Eagles in 2020? Regardless, it can only go up from here.
Quick side note: The Eagles have been riddled with injuries over the last several years and there are literally zero injuries for either the Kansas City Chiefs or San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl injury report. It feels like the Eagles have been without half their full roster over the past 3 years. The Eagles need to get younger and healthier in 2020 and Kristian Fulton would provide a necessary boost in talent in the Eagles secondary.