NFL Analyst Details Eagles’ Most Troubling Position of Need

Alec Ogletree, Ezekiel Elliott

Getty Alec Ogletree, Ezekiel Elliott

The Eagles attempted to plug one glaring roster hole in the NFL Draft. They might not have done enough to quell fears.

Philadelphia’s used a third-round pick on Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor, a former track star with incredible closing speed. But he’s extremely raw and inexperienced after playing only two full seasons in Division 1 football. Now he’s being groomed to take over a starting spot for the NFC East champions. Taylor is certainly an impressive specimen but it’s not going to be an easy transition.

According to ESPN/Football Outsiders, the Eagles should have invested more capital in the linebacker position. They jettisoned last year’s starters Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nigel Bradham and barely addressed the position in free agency except for bringing in oft-injured former Charger Jatavis Brown.

The team will look to fill the spot with veteran Nathan Gerry and second-year man T.J. Edwards. Taylor, along with fellow rookie and sixth-round pick Shaun Bradley, will have a legitimate shot to compete right away. There are a ton of question marks in the middle of the defense, something that doesn’t seem to concern the Eagles. Here is what ESPN wrote about the situation:

Davion Taylor has the athleticism to become a three-down player in time, but he is inexperienced. He did not play football before he turned 18 and played just two years in the FBS at Colorado. Presumed starters Nathan Gerry and T.J. Edwards have just 19 starts between them, the lion’s share by Gerry in 2019, when, according to Sports Info Solutions, he missed an alarming 29% of his attempted tackles, the highest rate among linebackers with 50 or more attempts. Should either Gerry or Edwards falter, Taylor likely will not be ready to fill in during his rookie season.

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Evaluating the Free-Agent Market at Linebacker

The other option for the Eagles would be to take a flier on a free-agent linebacker. It’s a topic that has been covered here extensively but let’s take another look.

Mark Barron

The former Steeler fits the mold of the hybrid player the Eagles tend to like. He’s a converted safety, on the smallish side (6-foot-2, 230 pounds), who has a reputation for making big plays. Barron has recorded 710 tackles (48 for loss) and 12 sacks in parts of nine seasons. He’s also durable after having played in 119 career games. The 30-year-old is also a two-time national champion from the University of Alabama.

Wesley Woodyard

Woodyard quietly transitioned from starter to role player off the bench in 2019. He still finished with 42 tackles and one sack while serving as a vocal leader in the locker room. In fact, his leadership qualities might be his biggest selling point. The 12-year veteran has been a team captain for 17 straight years going back to his high school days. He’s not flashy but he fills a void.

Alec Ogletree

The 28-year-old was the casualty of a Giants team going through a youth movement. His release didn’t have anything to do with his play on the field. Ogletree was a team captain in New York and recorded a team-leading 173 tackles over the past two years. Prior to that, he was a steadying presence in the middle of the Rams’ defense for five straight seasons. He’d be a perfect fit in Philly. Remember, he was a first-round pick (30th overall) in the 2013 draft.

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