Which LBs Might the Eagles Draft?

Posted: March 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 25 Comments »

In my most recent PE.com column I took a look at LBs the team is likely targeting.   I mentioned a couple of guys the team has had private workouts with:  Lawrence Wilson, Doug Hogue, Brian Rolle, Ross Homan.

Someone asked me if the team is likely to be interested in Casey Matthews.  I think so.  He has the type of motor that I think Juan Castillo is looking for.  He’s also a high character, productive Senior.  We focused on those kind of players last year.  It will be interesting if that is the focus again this year.

A few people have asked about LBs for a Read ‘n React style of defense.  You want speed and you want guys that have very good motors.  You also need players that can find the ball quickly and get in pursuit.  It is a combination of vision, awareness, and instincts.

We don’t want downhill players or inside run stuffers.  Those guys are tough, but better in small areas.  We need guys that can fly around the field and chase the ball.   Keenan Clayton should be happy about the change.  Akeem Jordan and Omar Gaither aren’t so happy (or fast).  And I’m pretty sure this rules out Jeremiah Trotter coming back, unless Oscar Goldman gets hold of him.

25 Comments on “Which LBs Might the Eagles Draft?”

  1. 1 Eric said at 10:02 AM on March 28th, 2011:

    No long term concerns for Matthews’ injury issues? I don’t like LBers with shoulder problems. Especially guys on the smaller side. 🙂

  2. 2 Norman said at 11:36 AM on March 28th, 2011:

    Glad to see you back established on the web, Tommy. And it looks like I see Sam lurking around, too.

    Here’s to a good off season, and hopefully a superbowl celebration next year (guess I should just start by hoping for football at all, huh?)

  3. 3 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:58 AM on March 28th, 2011:

    @ Eric…

    I personally have mixed feelings on Casey Matthews. Very good vs the pass, but inconsistent vs the run. That bothers me a bit.

    I do think Castillo and the Eagles will like him. Now, keep in mind that we’re not necessarily talking about him as a starter. He’d be a role player initially and would have to earn a starting role. That might or might not happen. Some guys adjust well to the NFL (Chaney) while others don’t (pick any of our LB busts).

  4. 4 Ken said at 12:09 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    If teams feel like a lock out can really chew up OTAs and training camp do you think that makes Bruce Carter’s injury less of a concern? If these rookies are going to have very little preperation before the season they aren’t likely to make much of an impact early on. Does that kidn fo level the playing field for Carter?

  5. 5 Tommy Lawlor said at 12:19 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    @ Ken…

    That can’t hurt him. I think the key thing in his evaluation is the repair job done by the doctor. Last year we saw O’Brien Schofield tear his ACL at the Senior Bowl and still get taken in the 4th round. He played in the final 9 games of the year, just as a backup and role player.

    Cornelius Ingram tore his in July and still fell to the 5th round (in a weak draft) because teams thought his surgery wasn’t done well. They were right and he re-tore the ACL in the summer of 2009.

    Carter tore his ACL in November. He’s at least 6 weeks ahead of where Schofield was last year. That could make him a viable target in the 3rd round, assuming the repair job was done well. Carter isn’t a guy you project as a starter in 2011, but he could play a specialty role and on Special Teams.

  6. 6 Tom Jackson said at 12:44 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    Just found your new site, Tommy, ands it looks great…I discovered the referral at Fan-Demonium over at PE.com, and also got a hot tip from the great Brizer at “On The Inside” fan gallery… I loved your work over at Iggles Blog and have been patiently waiting to find your new landing spot. Congrats and best wishes from Eagles Eye…….

  7. 7 Cliff said at 1:21 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    Tommy, can you give some examples of things OTHER teams look for in LBers so I have something to compare our search to? I’m reading your qualities of good R&R LBers, but I’m thinking, wouldn’t every defense want those types of characteristics?


  8. 8 arby said at 2:16 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    Great piece Tommy – lots of good info on LB’s. I was trying to think if I could justify taking Carter at #54, around where a lot of mock drafts have him going, but couldn’t do it. But I doubt he lasts to #85. I would trade that and our 1st 4th to move up to the top of the 3rd to take him though – if that works out on the draft value chart… Otherwise, I’d use that 1st 4th on Wilson or Irving. 3rd round is best CB available and first 2 rounds are on O and D lineman. IMHO.

  9. 9 Aaron Bowden said at 2:55 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    Hey Tommy. What are your thoughts on Colin McCarthy? Can he be another guy who could move to WLB for the Eagles (they like to move MLBs over)?

    I was very impressed with Colin in the Senior Bowl game. Seemed heady and with good instincts for finding the football. And I’m a Noles fan but let’s face it, Miami is a pretty good place to look for NFL LBs.

  10. 10 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:05 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    @ arby…

    I think our 1st round pick is going to be a CB. We can’t count on FA. We need help. Normally you draft for talent and need is factored in. This year that will likely be different. I’m not guaranteeing Jimmy Smith will be the pick, but if I were to bet on our 1st rounder that’s the guy I’d put my money on.

  11. 11 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:22 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    @ Cliff…

    Let’s take out 3-4 teams. We know they want pass rushing LBs.

    In our previous system we wanted downhill, tough guys. Our LBs needed to be able to attack up the field. We were N-S. Now we’re going to be more E-W.

    The Vikings have taken big LBs in recent years (FA + draft). They really focus on run defense.

    The Bears used to have a habit of taking mid-to-late round guys from the Pac-10 who ran well. They didn’t work out to well so that has changed the last couple of years.

    Some teams are less picky and just take the highest rated guys (Cincy, Tampa).

    The Colts love productive playmakers (Angerer, Wheeler, Session, Keiaho). They also like speed over size.

    The Jags have gone for complete LBs. They find guys that are 6’2, 240, athletic, productive, and versatile. That means spending higher picks on LBs, but it has worked pretty well for them.

    Hopefully this gives you some kind of a better idea of how teams take different approaches to LB.

  12. 12 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:24 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    RE: McCarthy

    I watched a few games of his this weekend. Trying to figure his value and what I really think. I see him as more of a downhill player. He’d have been ideal for WLB in the old system, but doesn’t show great range. I think he could be a MLB in the new system, but I don’t know that he’ll be a player we love. Better attacking than chasing.

  13. 13 ATG said at 3:52 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    So, if we like the way the surgery was done, taking Carter in the 3rd basically boils down to trading a 3rd this year for 1st round talent next year? I’d be on board for that.

    It seems like most of the guys you mentioned were guys who would have gone higher except for… (something). As a general philosophy, I like this. These are the guys that turn into great value if you find the one where (something) isn’t as bad as advertised. These are the guys that you have to do your homework checking out. I also think previewing these guys as potential picks makes a lot more sense than the top tier guys.

  14. 14 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:05 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    @ ATG…

    Carter could be a great value pick. Will he last to our 3rd is the key question. I’m not comfortable with using our 2nd on him, but in the 3rd I’d be all over that move.

    The problem with this LB class is that there just aren’t many good 4-3 LBs available. Lots of 3-4 guys. As you said, everyone is a “Yeah, but…” type prospect. It will be really interesting to see how Castillo goes. Speed? Instincts? Personality?

    This draft will be a learning process for all of us. A lot of what we knew went out the window.

  15. 15 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:34 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    The EMB is down. I guess we’ll see the changes they’ve been talking about. Let’s hope the new board is decent.

  16. 16 Jeppe said at 4:37 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    Hi Tommy – and all others

    I’ve been working on a mock draft for a while, and my approach has been to go BPA because of the CBA and (possibly) no free agency. Do you think this is realistic, and how would you like it?

    Note: no trades

    1st: CB Brandon Harris/Jimmy Smith
    2nd: OG/OT Ben Ijalana
    3rd: OLB Bruce Carter
    4th: DE Pierre Allen
    4th: CB Jalil Brown
    5th: SS Da’Norris Searcy
    6th: OLB Ross Homan
    7th: FS Jaiquawn Jarret
    7th: DE Greg Romeus

  17. 17 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:23 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    @ Jeppe…

    That would be a great draft, but some of the values are likely off a bit.

    I doubt Ben Ijalana lasts to 54. Some teams see him as a LT and those guys go early in the 2nd round. See Rodger Saffold last year.

    I’d love Carter to last to our 3rd Rd pick, but don’t know if that will happen.

    I’m not a fan of Pierre Allen at all. I also don’t think he’s the kind of speed rusher for our system.

    Brown and Searcy could be available at those spots. I think Searcy is flying under the radar.

    I don’t think Homan will make it anywhere near the 6th round. Plus, we don’t have a 6th round pick.

    Jarrett should go in the 4-6 range. I’d love for the Eagles to take him. I don’t think we’ll take a pair of Safeties. We’ve got 2 rookies from last year, plus Colt Anderson. 2 more rookies would make us frighteningly young.

    Romeus is a mystery to everyone because of his health, but I’d absolutely use a late round pick on him if the doctors gave him a passing grade.

  18. 18 ATG said at 6:54 PM on March 28th, 2011:


    I certainly don’t know enough about the college game to question any of your picks individually, but I question your commitment to the philosophy of Best Player Available.

    It seems to me as if every one of your picks is need based. I find it hard to believe the every time we pick the best player available will be one that addresses one of our commonly mentioned needs.

    I do, however, think you could make an argument to draft for need with the thought that these might be the only players you add.

  19. 19 netherman said at 8:46 PM on March 28th, 2011:

    Jimmy Smith the person scares the heck out of me. He does not seem like an Eagles type of guy, but then again, Freddie Mitchell and DeSean did not either. Assuming there is no FA before the draft, I do hope we take a CB in 1st round, and I do hope we pick up a pair over the first 4 rounds or so. Who could be some mid round prospects at CB to look at?

  20. 20 Jeppe said at 2:19 AM on March 29th, 2011:

    Sorry – my intention was to draft based on need, because of the CBA and no free agency period… I just typed wrong 🙂

    I realize that this may be a ‘dream’ draft, and that some players may be long gone when we pick – but I can hope, right`;-)

    Tommy, if you were to make a quick mock, which players would you LOVE for the Eagles to pick at our certain spots?

  21. 21 Arby said at 8:09 AM on March 29th, 2011:

    It’s true we need a CB bad this year and we can’t count on free agency, but I don’t think Jimmy Smith is an Andy Reid-type of guy. And there are so many other players that I think the Eagles would favor as players over Smith in the 1st: Kerrigan, Liuget, Wilkerson, Carimi, Castonzo, Pouncey. (And by the way, Brandon Harris was incredibly productive at CB – compare his stats to any other CB in the draft – he could be higher on their board than Smith.) Anyway, we’re getting Prince Amukamara in the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes ; )

  22. 22 Sam said at 10:18 AM on March 29th, 2011:

    I wouldn’t write Jimmy Smith off. I think Andy’s preference for “high-character” is misunderstood. He is willing to make the trade off for what he considers to be a unique player.

    I’d be surprised if he was not high on the Eagles’ board.

  23. 23 T_S_O_P said at 11:17 AM on March 29th, 2011:

    Tommy, outside of Peterson and Amukamara, how many CBs have a 1st round grade in your opinion?

  24. 24 Davesbeard said at 11:49 AM on March 29th, 2011:

    Bruce Carter scares me, we’ve been through the whole 3rd round pick for 1st round talent before with Jack Ikegwuonu and that obviously didn’t work out. Not saying they are the same type of player but its still a situation to be wary of.
    On the other side there’s the Cornelius Ingram situation where he was playing great and working hard but too much of a risk was taken on his knee.

    Roseman seems to be a much bigger valuer of character than previous GMs and I doubt the Eagles would make the injury mistake again in a hurry so if they /do/ take him, fingers crossed!

  25. 25 ATG said at 7:42 AM on March 30th, 2011:

    @Davesbeard (and the rest of Dave)

    I was reading the article “Best and Worst Draft Classes” on this site – http://draftmetrics.com/ as a PDF, which found that over the last measurable 8 years, 3.7 players from the average draft last 5 years in the league and on 1.6 turn into 5-year starters.

    Based on that information, every pick is a roll of the dice. The player could fail to pan out because of an injury risk the team knew about but weighed it against the potential, because of an injury risk for which the team had no prior indication (I’m looking at you VA and McDougal), or because the player just isn’t good enough.

    I look at it as if we find two gems in 10 injury-discounted guys a few rounds after where they would have been picked, we are way ahead of the curve.