Linebacker at pick 21? The Eagles need to consider it.

Since the final buzzer sounded during a cold January evening at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Seahawks defeated the Eagles 17-9, it’s been known that the Eagles need to improve their wide receiver position. It has also been known that next week’s wide receiver draft class is being labeled as historic. For months you have probably read countless mock drafts having the Eagles select a wide receiver at pick 21. Whether it was Henry Ruggs III, Justin Jefferson, Jalen Reagor, or even Denzel Mims, almost every mock draft has the Eagles taking a wideout. 

However, the Eagles are not one player, at one position away from being a Super Bowl favorite. Jason Kelce is getting older and the Eagles need to start looking at a replacement for the All-Pro center. They acquired Darius Slay from the Lions to bolster their secondary group, but still have plenty of questions surrounding the others at that position. They even signed Javon Hargrave to put him with Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson to solidify their front line. They signed linebacker Jatavis Brown from the Chargers and cut Nigel Bradham and Malcolm Jenkins. 

During the Super Bowl run, the Eagles got timely sacks, and forced timely turnovers. As great as Nick Foles played, Jim Schawrtz’s defense played just as well. Against Atlanta they stuffed the Falcons inside the 5 on the final possession of the game. In the NFC Championship game, after Case Keenum went down the field on the opening drive, they turned up the pressure, and Patrick Robinson picked off Keenum which flipped the momentum for the rest of the game. And in the Super Bowl, Brandon Graham’s strip sack on Brady in the fourth, all but sealed the deal. 

Last year the Eagles finished with a -3 in turnover differential. They finished with just 11 interceptions and 13th in the league with 44 sacks. Between injuries and inconsistent play, their defense was in constant shuffle. The Eagles upgraded their defensive line by retaining Hassan Ridgeway and bringing in Hargrave, and they got a clear number one corner in Darius Slay who specializes in taking away a teams’ number one receiver. While they brought in a rotational linebacker in Brown, they haven’t addressed the linebacker position enough. Not to mention Malcolm would often come down into the box in a linebacker role and pair with Bradham, they’re both gone. 

Whether Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III are available at pick 21 or not, there is a case to be made that the right pick is actually a linebacker. There are two linebackers in this draft that would step in and solidify the front seven for Jim Schwartz and the defense. 

Kenneth Murray

The NFL today is predicated on speed at all skill positions. Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma has plenty of it and it would be a huge boost to the Eagles defense. The 6’2” 240 lb linebacker would provide the Eagles with a backer capable of playing downhill. His speed, acceleration, and long frame would help stop the outside runs and provide another pass rusher in key situations. He plays the run well by meeting the back in the hole, and is a solid between the tackles tackler. His 4.5 speed and sideline to sideline ability will give him a big advantage in man coverage. He has the speed to keep up with smaller backs and the size to cover tight ends. 

His instincts are great but he is full go at first movement. In the NFL, coaches will see his aggressiveness and will use a lot of misdirection to throw him off. Murray has to do a better job at dissecting any traffic in the backfield quickly and finding the ball carrier. In the open field Murray often tackles too high and smaller more agile backs can slip out of grasp. Another area Murray struggled in was block shedding. He has the long arms and the quick first step to beat many lineman, but if late to his read, lineman have an easier time engaging and holding off Murray. He needs to work on using his hands better to get rid of blockers and find the ball. 

Patrick Queen

If you turned on a LSU game this past season, you probably heard the names Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, and Grant Delpit the most. The name you didn’t hear enough was Patrick Queen. He was just a one year starter at LSU and he didn’t disappoint. His ability to stay on the field in both run and passing downs was a big help to both LSU and his draft stock. 

Watching Queen and Murray on tape, you notice there are a lot of similarities. Both have elite speed for linebackers, both fill gaps well, and both flow sideline to sideline well. Where Queen has the upper hand is in play diagnosis. While Murray attacks at first movement, Queen does a better job at recognizing the play and blocking scheme from the start and flowing to the ball. His tackling is much more fundamental in key situations as he stays square to the ball and drives through the ball carrier. As with Murray, Queen has the size and athletic ability to cover both tight ends and running back in the passing game. Despite being a one year starter, Queen was able to dominate in the tough SEC.

 

So who should the Eagles take?

While both Nathan Gerry and TJ Edwards did well at their time at linebacker last season, drafting Kenneth Murray or Patrick Queen would give the Eagles a potential All-Pro for years to come. Murray’s poor ability to shed blockers consistently might lead him to an outside backer for his first couple years, as Queen has the ability to play all three right away. Murray has the blitzing ability advantage over Queen as he has the quicker first step and great closing speed. 

With that being said, I believe Patrick Queen is the better option for the Eagles. His ability to diagnose plays quickly in his head and take the right angles to the ball is something the Eagles are missing. His athletic ability and defensive awareness will often lead him into spots to cause turnovers. The deciding factor is tackling consistency. In a division with running backs Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, having a linebacker that can matchup size with them is key. His pad level and technique will come in handy against these two. That’s if the Eagles decide to take him with their 21st pick.

 

Follow me on twitter @GregStillTSF58

76 thoughts on “Linebacker at pick 21? The Eagles need to consider it.

  1. A Couple of Inside LB’s I like in the 2nd/3rd Rounds

    2nd Round – Troy Dye – Oregon
    2nd/3rd Round – Malik Harrison – Ohio State
    3rd/4th Round – Logan Phillips – Wyoming
    4th/5th Round – Kamal Martin – Minnesota

  2. I think the BPA on the Eagles Board will be from the OL,CB & DL Positions before LB
    So if thr Top 4 WR’s are gone (Lambe,Jeudy,Ruggs and Jefferson) then they will select a OL,CB or DL or thry will look to Trade Down a few spots before Selecting a LB in the 1st Round .
    They simply don’t Value the LB Position enough to warrant using the 21st Pick on one..
    The Saints, Patriots & Ravens are all in the Market for a LB anc could be trade Back partners for the Eagles ..
    Patriots May also want to grab a QB if Herbert or If Jordan Love falls beyond the Raiders at #20..
    Eagles do not need to panic and simply select at #21 unless they feel one of highly rated Prospects are still on the Board…
    Could it be a LB ? Possibly but I feel this is a small chance that they have any LB Rated this high due to their past history of the Position
    This massive OT M Becton failed his Drug Test from the Combine and now will likely drop from a Top 10-12 Selection to a Top 15-25 Selection which could means that another quality OL will likely drop further down the Boards
    Could an outside CB like J Gladney or J Johnson be the Pick ? Or OT Jones or Center Ruiz ?
    Or a DE Mason-Gross or Terrell Lewis ?
    I think this is a more likely scenario with their first selection in the 1st Round over a LB

    I truly believe that if WR Jefferson is gone by #21, then Eagles will trade back 3-5 Spots and select one of the above mentioned Players

    Jaguars at #19 and Raiders at #20 are the Key depending on what they do …
    Jags need DB’s, Pass Rusher & WR
    Raiders are looking at Speed at the Skills Position too ..

    1. Since you have no idea what there draft board looks like. I believe the eagles just believe they need a player that makes big time contributions day in and day out… big catches, big runs, big blocks or big tackles… it just comes down to what they say after each game… we need to make plays.

  3. They Value DL,OL, CB & QB Positions the most so their Top Pick at 21 will likely cone from these Position Groups unless A Top 4 WR is there or possibly move up a few spots to get one one the Top 4
    I don’t see them Trading up 5 + Plus Spots and give up a 2nd or 3rd for doing so
    If None are available at this spot (minus QB) when #21 comes around then they’ll likely trade down and take the BPA on the Board at thus nee point and gain a 2nd or 3rd Round or 4th Round Pick for doing so depending how far they trade back..

  4. Paulman Rumor

    Eagles Send the 49ers LT Andre Dillard, #21st, #53 Selections & #145th Selction for both the 49ers First Round Picks… (#13th and #31st Overall)
    The 49ers Have upcoming Cap Issues and want Younger,Cheaper Talent and have no Selections in the 2nd,3rd & 4th Rounds this Draft

    Eagles then Select the Following
    #13 – OT Andrew Thomas – Georgia
    #31 – EAGLES Trade Back to the Indy Colts for #34 and #122 Selections
    #34 – WR Denzel Mims – Baylor
    #103 – CB Michael Ojemudia – Iowa
    #122 – RB/WR Antonio Gibson – Memphis
    #127 – LB Logan Wilson – Wyoming
    #146 – WR John Hightower – Boise State

    ** Eagles announce the Signing of Free-Agent Jason Peters to a New 1 Year Deal as 1st Round Draft Pick
    Andrew Thomas cuts his teeth at the NFL Level and the mistake of Selecting Andre Dillard is repaired quickly

  5. Latest Made Up Rumor

    Eagles Sit Tight at #21 and Draft QB Jake Fromm from U of Georgia to become the eventual #2 Back-Up QB behind Wentz and a spot Starter in case of and Injury to Wentz down the road and the Eagles will have him under contractual control for the next 5 Years (4 Year Rookie Contract plus a Team Option for for three 5th Year on 1st Round Picks) instead of having to bring in different QB’s each off-season .. Keep Sudfeld for 2020 and then elevate Fromm as the #2 QB for the Eagles starting in 2021

    A Brilliant Move and Call ..

      1. 2nd Round the Eagles Draft a Kicker…
        Adam Vinitari’s Nephew who’s in this Draft.. Good Grief!!

  6. A New 2020 Draft Strategy for the Eagles or any forward looking Team based on a COVID-19 Pandemic and uncertainty about
    Since so much Personal,Medical,Character information on many Draft Picks and especially the Ones outside the Top 150 Prospects, which most of these Top 150 Prospects are from the Power 5 Conferences and much is known about them and their Schemes, Coaches, Character, Game Tape, etc,etc,, But many Players after the Top 150 are from Smaller Conferences, Schools and Teams will simply not have as much information known about them, in terms of Medical,Character,Coachability, etc,etc

    I suggest the Eagles use their 2020 Draft Selections in the 4th/5th/6th and package them up to Move Up into the 3rd Round or above for this Draft where you can have more informed Decision about a Future Prospect
    Either this, or Trade those 4,5th,6th Draft Picks in 2020 Draft for the 2021 Draft where you can get about a 1/2 Round of Better Value for Future Picks…

    There is a strong possibility that the 2020 NFL Season will be delayed, shortened and possibly even missed.. So with this is mind, Why not be better prepared for Roster Management as best as you can, as you can always Sign/Add UDFA Players for shorter Term, Cheaper Deals if you have to add Players for 2020 Season that you don’t know much about and therefore will limit the risk on taking too many “flyers” on too many of your Players/Incoming Rookies/Draft Selections and Capitol ..

    Package Two 4th Round Picks for a mid/late 3rd Round Pick where you likely have better data on the Prospect
    Trade the 2020 5th/6th Round Picks for 2021 4th/5th Round Draft Picks..

  7. With this new Draft Strategy in mind the Eagles Select the Following

    #21st Overall – Trade Back to the Colts for the #34th Overall Selection and gain a 2nd Round Pick in 2021 Draft
    Eagles then Select at 34th WR Brandon Aiyuk of Arizona State
    #48th Overall- – Eagles Trade up to the NY Jets for the Eagles #53 and #145th Draft Selections
    Eagles then Select DE Terrell Lewis of Alabama
    #92nd Overall – Eagles Trade up with Baltimore Ravens and send them their #103 and #146 Draft Selections
    Eagles then Select Center/Guard LLoyd Cushenberry of LSU
    #105 Overall – Eagles Trade up with the Minnesota Vikings and send them #124 and CB R Douglas
    Eagles then Select RB/WR Antonio Gibson of Memphis
    #144 Overall – Eagles Trade up with the Seattle Seahawks and send them their #168 and #190th
    Eagles then Select QB James Morgan of FIU

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  9. Trade Rumors of Eagles looking to move way up to Secure their Top Choice at WR

    Eagles Send the 2020 Draft Picks of #21, #53, #146 and a 4th Rounder in 2021 Draft to Move up
    from #21 in a Trade with the Carolina Panthers at #7 Overall and Select WR Ceedee Lamb as Howie Roseman
    panics and gives up way too much in a Draft where not many Teams are looking to move up until the Top 10

    Panthers at #21 Take LB Kenneth Murray who goes on to Win the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year Player Award in the COVID-19 Shortened Season of 10 Games for the 2020 Season…

    Good Grief Howie !!

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