Every now and then I take a look at the Eagles depth chart to see what sticks out. I did that last night and something go my attention. I’ll explain this with a series of numbers: 3, 3, and 12. That is Trent Cole’s sack total from last year, Connor Barwin’s sack total from last year, and the number of games that Brandon Graham has started in his 3-year career.
Right now the Eagles are planning for Barwin and Graham/Cole to be the starting OLBs. You have a pair of veterans coming off disappointing seasons. Graham played well last year, but only started 6 games. The Eagles could look at this situation in a couple of ways. They could expect bounce-back years from Barwin and Cole. They could expect Graham to get even better. Or the Eagles could see 3 question marks at the key spots on defense…the pass rushers.
The Eagles tried to sign Victor Butler a couple of weeks back so that showed some interest in beefing up the pass rushers. At the same time, they “only” made him a reasonable offer so that didn’t show any kind of desperation.
The question now is whether Howie Roseman, Chip Kelly, and Bill Davis see LB as a solid situation that could be upgraded or if they see a situation that must be addressed. Roseman has focused on pass rushers in his time as GM. Kelly had good pass rushers at Oregon. Davis, like all defensive coaches, will absolutely value pass rushers.
Let’s go back to the depth chart for a minute. I’m sure a few of you could point out that the O-line and secondary also look like they could use some help. I totally agree, but that’s where you need to understand the draft class. Check out this recent tweet from Daniel Jeremiah:
“Not a lot of options for teams looking for a pass rusher in RD 2….Plenty of RD 2 options at every other defensive position.”
If you want a stud pass rusher, you need to go for him at pick #4. CB, S, and OL are positions that are fairly deep this year. You can address them in the 2nd, 3rd, or possibly even 4th rounds. You might be able to find a pass rusher outside the 1st round, but there are no guarantees.
As for Jordan himself, we’ve discussed him quite a bit. Not everyone is sold on him, but he does make a lot of sense. Jordan has the length that Kelly loves in his players. Jordan is a terrific athlete. He offers great versatility. There is no question that Jordan needs some work, but he has big time potential. If the Eagles feel he is an elite prospect, there is a very good chance he’ll be the pick. We just don’t know if the Eagles see him as special or simply a very good prospect.
There is no guarantee that Jordan will be on the board. A lot of people now seem to think that the Jaguars could go for Jordan. Coach Gus Bradley had Chris Clemons in Seattle and just last year saw the team draft Bruce Irvin in the 1st round. Bradley knows the value in speed rushers and that is something the Jags don’t have right now.
The Eagles have met with Jordan and are showing public interest. The team has also checked out some other pass rushers. Chip Kelly was at LSU for their Pro Day and you can bet he took a close look at Barkevious Mingo. Kelly was at Georgia’s Pro Day and took a look at Jarvis Jones. The Eagles brought Tank Carradine in for a visit. I think these guys would be targets if the Eagles are able to move back.
Mingo is a special athlete, but didn’t post great numbers at LSU. Strength is a major question for him. He never did the bench press test for NFL teams, which is a red flag. He’d rather have teams not know the answer than to actually do it. The reason you want Mingo is because of his speed and movement skills. He does some freaky things. Jones is just the opposite. Limited athlete, but great production. Doesn’t have ideal size, but he is a good football player. He’d be more likely to offer an immediate impact. Carradine tore his ACL in November, but was having a great season prior to that. He has huge potential, if his knee checks out.
Another x-factor in all of this is having Cole and Graham adjust to being OLBs. Barwin has played that position and knows what he’s doing. How much do the Eagles trust Cole and Graham as LBs? Jordan and Jones played LB in college. Mingo was technically a DE, but LSU used him creatively and he’s got a fair amount of experience playing in space.
We’ll find out in a couple of weeks just what the Eagles think of the LB situation, as well as the LB prospects.
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You guys asked quite a few questions in the last few posts. I’ll address them in a post later today.