Linebackers are considered the heart and soul of the defense. The Eagles are lacking a pulse at that important position.
It’s true the organization has never valued the linebacker position but one draft expert thinks that could all change in April. According to NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, the Eagles should take a long hard look at selecting Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray in the first round. Normally this rumor would be dismissed as another tall tale but given Jeremiah’s impressive credentials, it deserves some deeper consideration.
Jeremiah is one of the most respected analysts in the business and his mock drafts have often foretold the future. Adding even more intrigue is the fact that Jeremiah was a former college scout for the Eagles before joining NFL.com. His opinion matters and it’s safe to assume he has some inside sources. Here is what he wrote about the Eagles possibly taking Murray:
The Eagles need to add receivers, but they can afford to wait a round or two. Murray would give them a dynamic playmaker in the middle of their defense.
The pick also marks a change of course for Jeremiah who has previously linked the Eagles to LSU receiver Justin Jefferson. He registered 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns during his final season in Baton Rouge.
Murray Considered Second-Best LB in NFL Draft
Who is Kenneth Murray? Not a lot of Eagles fans had even heard of Murray, let alone ponder him going to Philadelphia, prior to Wednesday. Long story short, he’s the real deal.
The 6-foot-2, 243-pounder has been called the second-best linebacker in this draft class behind Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons. He’s coming off an eye-opening junior season at Oklahoma where he recorded 102 total tackles (17 for loss), plus four sacks. In three years at Oklahoma, Murray racked up 325 total tackles (37.5 for loss) and 9.5 sacks. He started at inside linebacker and was praised for his ability to finish tackles and impact the game as a willing (and effective) blitzer.
CBS Sports ranked Murray as the No. 25 overall prospect in the draft. Meanwhile, NFL.com draft expert Lance Zierlein highlighted his “twitchy burst” and “chiseled frame” and “ability to fly around from sideline to sideline rolling up tackles.” He projects as a weak-side linebacker at the next level.
Recognition of play development and ability to take on blocks are both underdeveloped currently, but a move to weak-side linebacker would put him in position to minimize those concerns and maximize his playmaking talent. Murray has hit-or-miss qualities and is more splashy than consistent, but he’s immensely talented with the ability to imprint on games on all three downs.
Would Eagles Ever Select Murray in First Round?
Never say never. That’s the one thing I’ve learned in almost two decades of covering sports for a living. However, the odds of the Eagles picking Kenneth Murray with the 21st overall pick seem slim. It’s just completely out of character for the franchise to take a linebacker that high.
The last linebacker the Eagles took in the draft was in 2016 when they invested a seventh-round pick in Joe Walker. A Chip Kelly pick, the Eagles cut him in 2018 and Walker now plays for the San Francisco 49ers. Philadelphia has selected nine linebackers since 2010, including spending a first-round pick on Marcus Smith in 2014. Other forgettable names include Casey Matthews, Greg Lloyd, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney and Keenan Clayton.
It hasn’t been a complete waste of time, though. The Eagles hit on Jordan Hicks (84th overall) in 2015 and Mychal Kendricks (46th overall) in 2012. Of course, neither player is on the current roster. The team just doesn’t seem to value the position, even the good ones.
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