LB Update

Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 69 Comments »

The Eagles didn’t draft an OLB or ILB. The team did sign UDFA Jake Knott. Does this mean that Howie Roseman, Chip Kelly, and Bill Davis are happy with the LB corps?

I think the first thing you need to understand is that the LBs are a mystery right now. The lack of moves doesn’t show satisfaction. The coaches need to see the players in action before evaluating them. There has been a major schematic change. Mystery doesn’t mean good or bad, simply unknown.

We might find out that Brandon Graham is perfect as the Predator in the new defense. Connor Barwin has played SAM in a similar system so there is less schematic change for him, but there is dealing with a new team, new coaches, and the pressure of knowing Sheil Kapadia will be doing All-22 breakdowns of his game tape. That’s enough to overwhelm any normal human being. Trent Cole is going to have a better year than he did in 2012. I just can’t see a proud man like him playing like that again. Still, I don’t know if he’ll get anywhere close to the old days of 11 and 12 sacks.

Beyond the big 3, I don’t know what’s going on. I think Chris McCoy is the backup at SAM. Both Phillip Hunt and Everette Brown are more likely to be backups at the Preadator spot. McCoy is a longshot to make the roster, but we’ll see how that goes. Hunt lacks the size that Kelly prefers, but might be acceptable for 2013. Brown is a longshot, but I did like him a lot coming out of college.

The x-factor here could be Vinny Curry. The Eagles loaded up on DEs. You have Fletcher Cox, Ced Thornton, Joe Kruger, Ronnie Cameron, David King, Clifton Geathers, and a couple of UDFAs. Will Curry stay at DE or possibly shift out to backup SAM? It is early enough in the offseason that he could still shed a few pounds and make the switch. Curry would want to be in the 270 range at SAM so that’s not a huge change.

Or maybe the Eagles will make a sign a free agent. I don’t know who is available. The Eagles could trade for someone. Having Barwin as the starter is the key. You can figure out what to do for his backup. There is time to solve that issue.

What about ILB? DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are the starters. Ryans is a short term player, but could play another 2 or 3 years. Kendricks is too small for Kelly to be comfortable, but if Kendricks plays well, Kelly will gladly make an exception. I do think Kendricks can play well in this scheme. I expect him to have a good year.

The backup ILBs are a total mystery. Jason Phillips was signed as a UFA and Jake Knott as a UDFA. These are players specifically chosen for the scheme. That gives them a leg up. Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews clearly are not in good standing. They can win jobs, but will need to play well to make the coaches trust them. The team traded for Emmanuel Acho a few weeks back. He is in the mix for a spot as well.

Adam Caplan has talked about the Eagles adding a veteran ILB for a few weeks. You wonder if that will happen or if the team wants to see the current group in a mini-camp or two before making a move. The lack of tackling will limit just how much the coaches could learn, but seeing players on the move can give you an idea of what to expect from some guys.

Next January we’ll know if Graham and Barwin are the future at OLB or if we need help. We’ll know if Ryans and Kendricks are the answer at ILB. We’ll know which backups have a chance and which don’t.

Until then, don’t over-think this.  Let’s see the players in action and judge them based on performance rather than projection. Moves can, and probably will be made, as the team tries to find the right mix with the backup LBs/ILBs. This 3-4 thing is new to us and trying to figure out what good depth is will be a learning experience for us.

* * * * *

A few of you have asked about Fresno State LB Tristan Okpalaugo. He has a tryout deal with the Dolphins for their mini-camp.

There are some rumors about Maryland’s Kenny Tate coming to Philly. His Twitter account says nothing. The Eagles have said nothing. He would be an odd fit. The former SS moved to OLB a couple of years back, but at 6-3, 221 would need to play SS or ILB in the NFL. He isn’t a pass rusher and would be an odd fit with the Eagles at OLB.  SS is the spot where he would have the best chance and would make the most sense. We’ll see what happens there.


69 Comments on “LB Update”

  1. 1 zbone95 said at 9:51 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    Wait last post u said eagles would run the 4-3 under. This post your saying “the 3-4 is new for all of us…” which one is it?

  2. 2 Neil said at 9:52 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    The 4-3 under is variously called that and “1-gap 3-4”. Most 3-4s are actually what is being referred to with 4-3 under. It’s kinda tricky, that’s for sure.

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 10:59 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    Bill Davis worked for Wade Phillips a couple of times. Bill Davis calls the defense the 4-3 Under. Wade just calls it a 1-gap 3-4. Same scheme, different names.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  4. 4 GEagle said at 8:28 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Is Wade Phillips version the Same as Gus Bradley’s?

  5. 5 Anders said at 10:37 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    No. Wade Phillips prefer penetrators, like Bruce Smith, Jay Ratliff and JJ Watt, where Gus Bradley/Pete Carrolls version is more about gap control (nobody is confusing Red Bryant with Bruce Smith or JJ Watt)

  6. 6 austinfan said at 11:40 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    What makes it more confusing is that Kiffin calls his defense a 4-3 under, go back to Tampa Bay with McFarland as the “1” and Sapp as the “3” and Rice as the predator.

    However, Kiffin goes to the extreme of quickness, Carroll goes with a big 3 at DL but speed at LB, Davis is like Phillips, he likes quicker guys at the “3” and “5” (Campbell and Dockett). Davis had to go with Robinson at the “1”, but they drafted Williams, who’s similar in girth to Logan, to replace him but he couldn’t stay healthy. Dixon also has NT size.

    Geathers is unusual in that he’s extremely athletic for a guy his size (36″ VT, 9’4 LJ at 325 lbs is ridiculous), strictly a gamble on potential b/c he’s a major underachiever who left college too early. Everyone else is undersized (Kruger, Curry, King) or in the 295-310 range (Thornton, Cameron, Square.

  7. 7 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 11:19 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    Do you have any comment to the Russell Shephard story on PFT? If true, he is not the smartest kid in the world.

  8. 8 Baloophi said at 11:28 PM on April 30th, 2013:


  9. 9 Baloophi said at 11:42 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    It does seem like there’s an awful lot of wiggle room as far as whether actual rules were broken (teams may not negotiate with a player until after the draft). Could be (hopefully be) Shepard misunderstanding a call of interest vs. a negotiation or official signing.

    Interestingly, if you go back to Florio’s own self-linked story about Chandler Harnish and the Chargers/Colts thing, he even downplays it at the end, suggesting that nothing will come of it… unlike this article’s ominous “the Eagles will lose picks” nonsense.

  10. 10 47_Ronin said at 11:49 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    This is where Florio’s writing ticks get annoying. He implies that the Eagles violated an NFL rule (“shenanigans”) but never points to the rule in question (I’m confident there would be some provisions that’s open to a different interpretation than Florio implies is his non-reporting). Roseman is/was a lawyer and should know boundaries on permissible contact with a draftee

  11. 11 Baloophi said at 11:53 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    Agree on the Roseman front – there’s enough room to wiggle out of things here. Also, what is the definition of “signing” – if you don’t actually sign something it seems very difficult to prove that you did anything other than express interest.

  12. 12 Steven Dileo said at 11:49 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    Can you officially sign a player before the draft is over? I’m assuming that the Eagles guaranteed him a training camp invite during the draft day and he took it as if he signed to a contract.

    Do NFL teams really call up players during the draft and ask them if they’ve already signed with another team?

  13. 13 Baloophi said at 11:51 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    I assume that was the combined brain-trust of Shepard and Florio confusing teams calling to discuss UDFA interest vs. teams calling up about to draft a guy and asking if they’ve already signed with another team (which sounds bananas).

  14. 14 TommyLawlor said at 12:00 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Here is my take:

  15. 15 GEagle said at 8:30 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    ok thanks

  16. 16 Baloophi said at 11:26 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    If Curry is asked to shed a few pounds I’m going to try to play along at home in an act of solidarity. Should I be doing so regardless of Vinny Curry? Absolutely… but this way I can feel like part of the team (minus the dieticians, cooks, world class facilities and financial incentives).

  17. 17 Ark87 said at 12:14 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    They won’t even tell Vinny that he’s losing weight. Stuff will just change. He’ll just notice that they replaced his smoothy with a crystal lite slushy and the sports scientist bans him from the weight room in favor of the couch to 5k schedule.

  18. 18 Baloophi said at 12:16 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    That’s exactly how I imagine it will go for me, too.

  19. 19 TommyLawlor said at 12:38 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Curry will only get nervous if the staff tells him he’s getting the Pinkston Treatment.

  20. 20 Baloophi said at 12:54 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    “The Pinkston Treatment” sounds like a gritty 70’s espionage drama… OR… a late 60’s sci-fi film…

  21. 21 TommyLawlor said at 1:01 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Cheap sequel to The Parallax View.

  22. 22 Brett Smith said at 1:50 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    re: Pinkston Treatment

    I doubt Troy Vincent is going to show up at camp and arm whip Vinny Curry into the chain link fence/ground/however the story goes and tell him to toughen up.

    Also I am not sure Curry is going to drop this many passes.

  23. 23 Steven Dileo said at 11:37 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    My guess is that Ryans, Kendricks, Barwin, and Graham will be starters, and that they’ll use a lot of 3 safety sets.

    Larry Grant is still a free agent.

  24. 24 SleepingDuck said at 11:47 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    I think Grant is suspended for the first 4 games.

  25. 25 Steven Dileo said at 11:54 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    ahhh he is. I guess it’s the reason why he along with Rob Jackson weren’t signed to better deals despite playing well when the starters were injured.

  26. 26 Sean Scheinfeld said at 11:40 PM on April 30th, 2013:

    Do the Dolphins need both Dion Jordan and the poor man’s Dion Jordan?

  27. 27 TommyLawlor said at 12:01 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Amazingly, I didn’t even make that connection. Well done, sir.

    And that is odd. Wonder why Tristan went there.

  28. 28 BlindChow said at 8:38 AM on May 1st, 2013:×1066.jpg

  29. 29 Cliff said at 8:56 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Dammit, I want a vacation.

  30. 30 Baloophi said at 12:06 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    The Dolphins need all the help they can get. Remember when they signed this guy?

  31. 31 TommyLawlor said at 12:36 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    That ‘stache is HOF worthy.

  32. 32 James Adair said at 1:43 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Pretty good make up work on Sean Young.

  33. 33 TommyLawlor said at 12:32 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    RE: Shepard-gate

    From Russell himself, just a few minutes ago on Twitter:

    “It was just a agreement calm down people didn’t become official till the next day actually .. Lol calm down”

  34. 34 Baloophi said at 12:33 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Perfectly penned by Roseman.

  35. 35 Baloophi said at 12:34 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    I guess this means Shepard has escapability?

  36. 36 TommyLawlor said at 1:02 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Exactly. Excellent change of direction skills.

  37. 37 GEagle said at 8:31 AM on May 1st, 2013:


  38. 38 BlindChow said at 8:36 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    I had the impression teams couldn’t negotiate with prospects until after the draft, even if nothing was technically signed. If true, even an “oral agreement” might be bad news.

  39. 39 Anders said at 10:33 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    They can, they often call players in the 6th round and 7th round as say, “hey, we like you, but we might not be able to draft you, so do you wanna come here as an UDFA”.

    Remember, no players (unless you are Eli Manning or Elway) can say no to be drafted by a team, so that oral agreement is nothing because another team if they really wants him can just draft him

  40. 40 BlindChow said at 10:52 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Right, but simply calling a player to express interest isn’t technically “negotiating.”

    I guess I can’t really see this becoming a problem unless Shepard indicates specific terms were agreed upon that kept him from considering other offers. (And I assume the team will intervene before anything like that comes out…)

  41. 41 Davesbeard said at 6:09 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Any interest in bringing in Chris Gocong as a potential backup OLB? Market seems to be very thin.

  42. 42 GEagle said at 8:39 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    I would prefer adding an OLB who can cover…Hopefully someone gets cut in June for us to scoop up…Are there any potential OLB version’s of Demeco Ryan floating around the League? as in, a good OLB on a team with some serious Cap problems, that we could possibly trade for? Id Gladly give up a 4th round pick For a Demeco type every year lol……still aggrivated we missed out on Dion,Sio and Jelanie
    All this anticipation is driving me crazy…Im dying to see what we have in Benn and Momah………We have been soo starving for a non midget, red zone threat that half the deleware Valley was clamoring for a 40yr old Plaxico Burress lol…Now you look in the Redzone, and it might look like the Land of Giants compared to the last 14years…Ertz,Momah,Arrelius(who might end up being the steal of the offseason), Casey………Love all these new Big weapons for St. Nick to chuck it to! lol

  43. 43 A_T_G said at 7:11 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Many lessons learned.
    Avoid lawyer’s pitbull bite,
    Shepard flocked over.

  44. 44 Brian Ascoli said at 7:22 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    How about Isreal Idonije for depth at OLB? Sure he is 32 but seems to have the ideal size at 6’6″/270 and has still been productive. Could be a decent stopgap until we know how some of these younger guys pan out…or at least provide some competition.

  45. 45 GEagle said at 8:39 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    I think a team brought him in for a visit the other day, not sure if he ended up signing or not

  46. 46 Brian Ascoli said at 1:17 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    He visited the Titans but left without a deal. Apparently he has an offer to return to Chicago as well. One thing that might also be of interest to Chip is that he has been a willing and effective STer (8 career blocked kicks).

  47. 47 GEagle said at 8:26 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    I think Kendricks will be an Eagle for the next 8 years

  48. 48 GEagle said at 8:27 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    TOM, did we break any rules with the Russel Shepard situation? are we going to get in trouble for allegedly signing him before the draft was over?

  49. 49 BlindChow said at 8:31 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Tommy did a post on

  50. 50 GEagle said at 8:40 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    yeah, I got it…sorry, but thanks!

  51. 51 T_S_O_P said at 8:36 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    I looked at Kenny Tate as a possibility in the pre draft process as he may of fit as a hybrid player. I think two successive lost seasons to knee injuries have robbed him of his natural position of safety.

  52. 52 ACViking said at 9:19 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Re: Russell-Gate

    First, you can’t have a situation allegedly involving corruption that doesn’t end with the suffix “gate.” Let’s keep that clear.

    Second, Roseman’s job — foremost beyond arranging the draft board — is finding the edge of the legal envelope for every NFL rule and every provision in the NFL CBA. AND THEN PUSH THE EDGE UNTIL WE’RE JUST ABOUT TO HEAR “BOOM”.

    Roseman’s been the Eagles’ in-house lawyer longer than a personnel guy. If he knows anything, it’s the rules on how to deal with undrafted rookie FAs.

    On the other hand, Russell Sheppard’s taking his first (last?) ride to the NFL rodeo. I’m just spit-balling here, but I’m guessing he’s not very familiar with the NFL CBA, the NFL book . . . or a Chip-Kelly Milkshake.

    The problem is Sheppard doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

    That’s always dangerous. And it’s how you get “Gate” attached to your name.

  53. 53 TommyLawlor said at 10:45 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    Good take.

  54. 54 Mac said at 10:54 AM on May 1st, 2013:


    My prediction: Russell doesn’t end up an Eagles. Not because of this alleged action, but rather because “dumb people do dumb things.”

  55. 55 A_T_G said at 3:23 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Yeah, you have to question his ability to function well in the upcoming new situations he will face and whether he can take the social cues and meet the expectations. I would hate to label someone as unintelligent because they said something dumb to a reporter, but when it comes time to make those last few roster cuts the brain trust will unavoidably be considering whether he is going to go running his mouth to a reporter and embarrass them again.

  56. 56 Baloophi said at 3:46 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Remember, Chip is an equal-opportunity scorer, so if Shepard can get the ball in the end zone…

    I’ll give him a little bit of leeway as a 20 year old who hasn’t gotten the “how to deal or not deal with the media” power point presentation at Nova Care yet (by the way, there’s probably an excellent humor piece in replicating that…).

    It is interesting how social media has created such a transparent outlet for athletes… right, LeSean?

  57. 57 CalSFro said at 3:02 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something deliciously wonderful about hearing a long-time lawyer advocate for Howie pushing the bounds of and/or gently finding ways around the various rules and stipulations of a binding legal agreement.

    Very good point(s).

  58. 58 GEagle said at 10:25 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    1)SalPal echo’s Peter Kings sentiments that he found out the Eagles, and Chip Kelly really like Nick Foles. Tampa Bay allegedly wanted to go after St. Nick lol, along with a few other teams, and Eagles said he was untouchable…
    2) Geno Smith Fires his agents. Manish Metha reports rumor has it that Geno thought He wouldm and should be the #1 pick in the draft lol…People are getting the impression that he is shifting blame for falling in the draft..Agents released a statement.. “The NFL Draft is unpredictable, and we prepared Geno and all of our draft prospects, as we do every year, about what can happen during the draft. Not only did we tell him that what transpired on the first day of the draft was possible, the question of whether Geno would be a first- or second-round pick was arguably the most talked about subject in the three months leading up to the draft. We wish Geno the best.” (via PFT)….
    tough not to feel bad for Jets lol Sanchez, then Tebow, Now Geno? that has to make you appreciate Foles n Barkley ;lol

  59. 59 Baloophi said at 3:13 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Not that it would make a huge difference in terms of Geno’s perceived immaturity in firing his agents, but I wonder who was driving the bus in terms of not attending the Senior Bowl. On the one hand, I get the “you have nothing to gain” argument, on the other, there seemed to be enough questions about his accuracy, decision-making and leadership that – certainly in retrospect – going to the Senior Bowl couldn’t have hurt.

    Anyway, we’ll see if he tries to fire Rex Ryan next season…

  60. 60 GEagle said at 7:33 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    good point…would also love to know how they came to the decision to not attend the Sen Bowl…..Maybe that Nawrocki guy wasnt just Hating . lol….

  61. 61 austinfan said at 11:47 AM on May 1st, 2013:

    I was surprised that the Eagles didn’t aggressively pursue some UDFA OLBs after the draft. While I think they’re fine in the short run at ILB with Phillips, Acho and Knott fighting for two backup spots, unless they really like McCoy (and I’m come to think that the SS is the killer test for OLBs, both Brown and McCoy are a bit stiff with the COD), that’s the biggest weakness on the roster right now. E Brown has failed too often to take him seriously. Hunt is athletic but also a bit straight line and small. No one on the roster who gives me confidence if Barwin goes down.

  62. 62 ACViking said at 12:26 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Wondering the same thing today . . . what happens to the Billy Davis defense is Barwin’s out? There’s no one else on the roster who can play SOLB.

    If the Eagles had landed D-Jordan — warts and all — the team’s flexibility at SOLB doubles. Same on the Predator side.

  63. 63 Jason Gross said at 1:04 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    I was excited for Vinny Curry when we drafted him, but with the switch to the 3-4 and the DL falling to us in the draft, does it make sense to re-explore a trade for Curry for a true OLB. Target a team switching from 3-4 to 4-3 who needs at 4-3 DE. Would we ever conduct a trade with Dallas within the division?

  64. 64 Neil said at 1:50 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Oh lord, I thought of this same possibility but it would be too cruel. Curry’s one of us.

  65. 65 T_S_O_P said at 1:14 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    I have a question about Curry, should he go on to play OLB, will he have to change his jersey number?

  66. 66 HazletonEagle said at 1:24 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Tommy nice job tracking down where TO ended up. Have you heard anything about Bloomsburg’s Larry Webster? Anyone give him a shot? He played basketball at Bloomsburg but played football this past season and lead the conference in sacks. Another guy like Lawrence Okoye who just got no recognition.

    I feel like this draft was very light on 3-4 OLBs and I think we are going to need to make a trade.

    Im expecting to see some kind of Hank Baskett like deal during camps for some teams 7th round or UDFA OLB. Maybe we even end up with Okpalaugo.

    But at this point, Im not even opposed to signing Chris Gocong and see how he fits in this system as a stop gap.

  67. 67 Jack Waggoner said at 2:01 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    Just a wild thought: would Kendricks possibly fit better in this system as a SS?

  68. 68 Cliff said at 2:30 PM on May 1st, 2013:

    I’m sure a lot of you just got the e-mail, but for those who didn’t – Eagles Almanac is back!

  69. 69 Baloophi said at 3:50 PM on May 1st, 2013:


    T-shirt with Chip Kelly (in visor) and the phrase: “Big people beat up little people.”

    Does this fly with DeSean’s “anti bullying” campaign? No. But will it sell shirts? Maybe.