Davion Taylor Discusses Role, Reveals ‘Best Linebacker’ on Eagles Defense

Davion Taylor

Getty Former Colorado LB Davion Taylor is ready to attack Eagles training camp as a rookie.

When the Eagles drafted Davion Taylor in the third round, the pick was met with question marks. This kid is too raw, the critics said, then they watched the tape.

Taylor, who ran a blistering 4.49 in the 40, looks like a human comet chasing down ballcarriers and finishing tackles, always looking to knock the ball out and run it back the other way. There is virtually no linebacker faster or more athletic than him, especially on the loose in the open field. He is a three-down linebacker who excels in coverage, too. (Atlanta’s Deion Jones is a fair comparison). But the concerns — and Taylor himself admits they are valid — are over his inexperience.

The third-round pick out of Colorado didn’t play high school football due to his religious beliefs (Seventh-Day Adventist Church), although he was a constant fixture lurking around the practice fields. Taylor played two years of JUCO ball, at Coahoma Community College, then spent two seasons at the University of Colorado. He played outside linebacker there and finished his college career with 129 total tackles (18 for loss) in 24 games. Too raw, the scouts said. The Eagles drafted him 103rd overall anyway.

“I think it was accurate in college,” Taylor said about being too raw, “but now at this level, I can’t make no excuses. I just have to go out there and be a pro about it. I know I have to spend extra time in the playbook, probably more than everybody else — spend extra time probably in the coaches’ office, just do extra things to make sure I’m ready.”

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Taylor Calls Nathan Gerry ‘One of the Best Linebackers’

One perceived area of weakness for the Eagles heading into 2020 has been the linebackers, a unit ranked fifth-worst in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Harsh, but probably true.

Philadelphia is banking heavily on Taylor, along with fellow rookie Shaun Bradley, to carve out a niche and make an impact right away. After losing Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill in free agency, the projected starters are veteran Nathan Gerry and second-year man T.J. Edwards. All eyes will be on those two guys early in training camp — and one of them has already stood out.

“He’s like one of the best linebackers that I’ve seen, like when it comes to watching film, even in the virtual meetings,” Taylor said of Gerry. “He’s still asking questions like he’s still a rookie and that’s one thing I admire about him. He comes into the meeting room still trying to learn, still trying to learn the system, still trying to be the best player he can be.”

Taylor said he expects to lean on even more veterans as camp goes on as well as using his fellow rookies as sounding boards in the classroom. He specifically mentioned Bradley and undrafted free agent linebacker Dante Olson, winner of the Buck Buchanan Award for FCS Defensive Player of the Year.

“This rookie class, we all depend on each other and that’s why I think this will be one of the best rookie classes to come through,” Taylor said. “I think this training camp is probably going to be one of the hardest training camps.”

Looking at Linebacker Depth Chart in Philadelphia

Gerry will likely take over at middle linebacker, with Edwards manning the other spot since the Eagles don’t regularly employ three linebackers, and veterans Jatavis Brown, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton fighting for the scraps. Taylor will cross-train at inside, outside and middle — although “true inside linebacker” is where the rookie needs the most work.

“Learning the true inside linebacker position because at Colorado I played mostly the outside linebacker position,” Taylor said. “I feel like being able to know that playbook in and out, like I have to be able to study just as much as I can, even if I have to lose sleep sometimes … I want to make sure that I’m on top of everything because I have little to no room for mistakes.”

That attention to detail entails all phases of the game, too, from bonding with his teammates to playing special teams. He’s been in every single one of special teams coordinator Dave Fipp’s meetings. It’s the best way to earn trust.

“I’ve been in every special team meeting,” Taylor said. “Me, personally, I want to be able to be everywhere, play all the special teams I can, and always be on that field. I want to do everything I can do to be a contribution to this team and help us win a championship.”

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