The Eagles traded back in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft and acquired defensive back Blake Countess out of Auburn with the 196th pick (down from 188). Countess was the first defensive player selected after four on the offensive side for the new Eagles regime. While the team seems to be solid at the safety position as it stands, the cornerback spot is riddled with question marks and the addition of Countess should add some much-needed depth/competition at the position. Countess is 5'9" and weighs 184 pounds.
Countess is an intriguing prospect who has taken a winding road to the NFL. He started his college career at Michigan before ending up at Auburn as a graduate transfer. Injuries played a major role in Countess going from a much more heralded prospect, to a day three selection. When he was still at Michigan he suffered a torn ACL in the season opener against Alabama, costing him the entire season. He was able to battle back from the devastating injury and turn in a few good seasons with the Wolverines before the arrival of Jim Harbaugh, along with a different defensive philosophy, triggered the move to the SEC.
Countess was not invited to the NFL Combine, despite turning in a respectable season with the Tigers. He did, however, stand out at Auburn's Pro Day. His 21 reps of 225 pounds would have ranked him at the top of the defensive back chart, and his unofficial 4.49 40 is more than adequate for an NFL defender. Combined with his playmaking abilities (6 interceptions coming off of injury in 2013), Countess could be an interesting day three pick who could contribute down the road.
The Eagles did host Countess for a pre-draft visit prior to this weekend. He is a player that was clearly on their radar and, especially after trading back in the 6th round, they're likely happy he was still on the board. Much like the offensive linemen they've taken in the 2016 Draft, Countess has position versatility. Tommy Lawlor notes that he played both cornerback and safety at Auburn, and could provide depth behind Malcolm Jenkins/Rodney McLeod if the cornerback group is too deep.
The injury issues are clearly a concern for Countess and they may have already cost him some of the athleticism that would help him at the next level. That said, with his ability to play all around the secondary, and demonstrate some of the attractive qualities he did at Auburn's pro day, Countess has given himself every opportunity to succeed given his draft projections.
Somers Price is a contributor for Eagledelphia.com and can be followed on Twitter @somersprice