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Is It Time For a First Round Linebacker?


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Is It Time For a First Round Linebacker?


With the Eagles in position to bolster their defense in the draft, Is it finally time to draft an off-ball linebacker in the first round? The Birds haven’t drafted a backer in round one since 1979, but this year that could change. Let’s take a look at three prospects that would greatly impact the Eagles defense.

First, let’s look at Nakobe Dean. Dean stands at 6’0″, 225 pounds, but plays way bigger than that. As many Eagles fans know, being evaluated as too small isn’t necessarily a bad thing, (as shown by DeVonta Smith.) Dean makes up for his lack of size with his play recognition and movement skills. He’s an SEC linebacker who was constantly making plays for Georgia. Despite his small frame, he plays downhill extremely aggressive, and combined with his speed, that could be exactly what Philly is looking for. One downside to his aggressiveness, is that he tends to diagnose the run too quickly, thus making him prone to filling the wrong gap, leaving a hole in the defense. He had 17 pressures, and six sacks on 77 pass rushing attempts last season. He finished the season with 72 total tackles, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions, one of them being a pick six. The Eagles could greatly benefit from a versatile linebacker like Dean.

Next, we have Utah’s star linebacker Devin Lloyd. Opposite of Dean, he’s quite lengthy standing at 6’3″, 235 lbs. He’s shown the ability to always be around the ball, and with his size he’s really great at stuffing the line and leaving a hole for other defenders to make a play. He effortlessly gets in the backfield due to his ability to take on blocks from any lineman. He’s coming off a year with 26 pressures and eight sacks. He can be a menacing pass rusher, and his short area quickness makes him really good at getting to the flat and curl zones, making him a great coverage backer too. He had three interceptions this year and is an amazing tackler with an 11.8 missed tackle percentage. If Lloyd is still on the board when the Eagles are up to draft, it seems like a no brainer to take him.

Lastly, we have Christian Harris. Harris is a really athletic linebacker that helped lead Alabama to a national title. He stands at 6’2″, 232 lbs. Harris has the ability to take on blocks with ease, making him a real threat in the run or pass rush game. He had 31 pressures and six sacks during the 2021 season. He’s a great tackler, with only a 9.2% missed tackle rate. He sometimes will get lost in zone coverage, but can play man really well. He can track the ball very well, making him a tackling machine. The Eagles could benefit from an athlete like Harris.

Linebacker has been a glaring need for the Eagles for years. If Howie doesn’t trade away the three first round picks, then the Eagles need to take a legit starting backer to build the defense around. Theres no shortage of them in this draft, so hopefully the birds can do the right thing and take one.


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