The OLB Situation

Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 100 Comments »

I’ve covered this a few times, but it is worth discussing again. The Eagles need help at OLB. They are set at LOLB with Connor Barwin. He is just about perfect for what the Eagles want there. Barwin can play the run. He can cover. And he is an effective pass rusher. Ideally they would prefer a more explosive athlete who could bring more pressure off the edge, but Barwin is pretty darn good.

The ROLB situation is different. The Eagles need help. In a fantasy world they would be able to add someone that was a complete LB. The goal then would be to not have offenses know which guy was going to rush and which one was going to drop back in coverage. Coaches love flexibility.

While that is the ultimate goal, it isn’t a realistic goal. There just aren’t many guys that can fly off the edge and drop back and cover well. Dion Jordan is one such guy and that’s the reason the Eagles were talking to the Dolphins about a trade. That’s not likely to happen so the Eagles are now focused on finding LB help in the draft.

For now, the Eagles are looking for a pass rusher.

The ROLB is going to face LTs most of the time. Occasionally he’ll get blocked by a TE or RB, but mostly it will be the LT. That guy is the top pass blocker on the offense. The ROLB must be able to win enough battles against a LT to be disruptive to the offense. You cannot just stick any player at ROLB and expect to have success.

The player must be a natural pass rusher. He must be a good athlete. Being an effort guy or a power guy will only get you so far. The player needs some explosive traits. So when we talk about fits for ROLB, look for pass rushers with some athletic and explosive potential.

Adrian Hubbard of Alabama isn’t a pass rusher. Nor is he explosive. The Eagles might look at him as a backup at ROLB, but they won’t see him as The Answer to that spot. They’ll need to spend a pick in the first 3 rounds to find a likely answer. You never know when you’ll find the next Trent Cole, but those guys coming out of the 5th round is rare. You generally need to invest early picks to find pass rushers.

I put together thoughts on some of the top guys over at ScoutsNotebook.

I didn’t have time to cover everyone in great depth, but wanted to give you an idea of what I thought about the top prospects, good and bad.

I’m sure there will be more than a few disagreements with my thoughts. That’s okay. It is part of what makes draft discussions so much fun. We watch the same players, but see very different things.

_


  • Randy

    In the 22-40 range the Eagles could acquire Jeremiah Attaochu, DeMarcus Lawrence or Marcus Smith. Either guy could develop into a Pro Bowl caliber ROLB in this defense. No thanks on Dee Ford.

  • Mike Roman

    I was brainstorming over the weekend… How many of the readers / posters here are within two hours of Philly? I was thinking that if Tommy were interested, perhaps his followers could all chip in to fly him up and spend a Sunday watching the Eagles together. We would have to take over an are sports bar or book a room somewhere. If there is enough interest, I would take the lead on putting it all together.

    • Ben Hert

      Can we bring ATG and Baloophi for color commentary as well? AC Viking too.

      • Mike Roman

        Well, I dunno. Ummm….ok, fine!

        LOL

    • planetx1971

      Why the HELL do we have to live within 2 hrs?! :) (great idea btw)

      • Mike Roman

        Well, you don’t HAVE to. Just thought it would be easier for people who live within two hours to make it.

    • bkshawon12

      I live in Chicago, but would love the opp to drink a PBR with Lawlor as we discuss the finer points of Megan Fox’s inner thighs.We’ll thrwo some eagles talk in there too if time permits…

      • Mike Roman

        You made my mouth water.

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

      I’m in, easy drive from bmore

  • philllyfanatic

    Tommy, a little off topic here, but what do you think of this idea? Tom Savage at #22 if he is still there.

    The meat of this draft is through the first 75 picks. Draft Tom Savage if he’s there and hold him hostage. One of Minnesota, Cleveland, Oakland, Houston, Jacksonville and a couple others will pass him up in the first round thinking they can get him at the top of the second or move up a few spots to the end of the first round to get him.

    We could draft him, hold him hostage for less than an hour and then trade him for multiple picks including either a late first this year or very early second this year. Thoughts?

    • Ben Hert

      Do you really think a scenario like that is likely in the real world? Do you really see an NFL franchise worth over a billion dollars spending their most valuable of 6 picks on a lower tier player in the HOPES on another team giving up a ransom for him?

    • Insomniac

      Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

      • ACViking

        I’m sorry, but something more stimulating is involved here.

        • D3Center

          LSD? Maybe some peyote?

          • Ben Hert

            D. all of the above

          • D3FB

            Somebody has been hanging out with Phil Jackson at his Montana ranch.

          • Media Mike

            For the record, Larry Brown’s ranch is Wyoming is superior to Phil Jackson’s in every way possible. Jackson inherited that ranch after Doug Collins had mismanaged it for years and took all of the credit for actually fathering all of the award winning livestock himself. Larry Brown took animals that were already getting slaughtered and not only had them regain live, but made the playoffs with them every season even though most lacked 4 functional legs.

          • Maggie

            Excellent! ;~D

        • Sb2bowl

          “Bath Salts”

        • Maggie

          Unrealistic hopes?

    • Andy124

      Did Donovan McNabb’s twitter guy come up with this?

    • Tom W

      I would have no problem if the eagles drafted Teddy B or Manzel and held them hostage …. for a better trade offer from teams looking to draft a qb early day 2. but not savage.

      • Anders

        If drafted one of those two, why not just trade Foles for a good package?

        • Tom W

          Well for one, I don’t like Teddy or Johnny personally and don’t think they are franchise starters of the future.

          Otherwise, I’m not trading foles for less than two first and a second (if not three firsts). And unless he takes a step back this year, that offer goes up next year.

          More importantly I would want those picks before this draft (especially the first). If we drafted johnny or teddy at 22, it would be a surprise to the league so I doubt eagles would have had any previous conversations about trading foles. Presumably it would be for future picks. that doesn’t appeal to me as much.

          We could sit on Teddy or Johnny as you suggest through the draft (although I would really want the extra picks in this draft since it is so deep), and see if fat Andy pays us for foles next year.

          I don’t wanna have to make a foles deal for picks in a bad draft year (like last year) either.

    • Media Mike

      Tom Savage is a low character player. Evading his local high school to play at O’Hara is a clear indicator of a lack of loyalty and commitment.

      • D3FB

        Because Springfield township is such a powerhouse?

        • Media Mike

          Irrelevant. Trying to play at a HS powerhouse rather than honoring your community is a lame move.

          • D3FB

            What does a 16 year old kid owe his community? The kid has every right to go get a better education If he has Division 1 dreams, he has the right to go to a private school and not run the risk of having an OL comprised of 175lbs kids. He has the right to go play for the highly respected and regarded Coach Algeo.

  • nopain23

    With Barr and Macklemore likely off the board at 22 I’m hoping we can trade back with a team like San Fran for say a 3rd and their first and get attaching. I see guys like m.smith and d.lawrence as second RD guys.KVN in the second to take over for Ryan’s in 2015.bailey in the 3rd along with best WR available.a.colvin in the 4th.defense should be greatly upgraded.trade b.graham for a 7th or 6th rounder.

  • Insomniac

    Hubbard has some versatility in him and decent potential. His first step is awful but he holds up in the run pretty well. For maybe a fifth round pick that’s not too bad. Seems like he has an ego problem according to NFL.com. Looked pretty humble to me in interviews.

    • D3FB

      I’m honestly surprised Hubbard wasn’t murdered by Saban. Saban had reminded his players a short kick could be returned, and to fan out into a coverage team as they had practiced before. Hubbard sat watched the kick, and Davis was 10 yards out of the endzone before Hubbard decided to attempt to cover the kick.

  • Andrew_Hemler

    Tommy, what do you think of Trent Murphy? He has experience in a pro-style 3-4 at Stanford, has excellent intangibles, and judging from the fact that he led the FBS in sacks this year, he can rush the passer.

    He might not be the most naturally athletic guy, but he did post a great 3 cone time, and all reports indicate he’s very smart and hard working.

  • Anders

    PFF’s love fest for Graham continues

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BlMG7b0CQAAMpz9.jpg:large

    • Joe Minx

      lol keep saying it guys & maybe somebody will actually believe you.

      Until then I will continue to use my eyes on gamedays to know he isn’t anything close to the 7th best pass rushing OLB in football.

    • SteveH

      Good, I hope some FO out there feels the same about him.

      • Maggie

        Nah. They’ll look at the very low number of snaps first.

    • Media Mike

      Further proof that Sean McDermott had zero clue on what to do with talent on D.

      • Anders

        you mean the one eyar he had Graham where had was a pretty good rookie before blowing out his knee?

        • Media Mike

          No, I mean the year where McDermott didn’t let Graham get comfortable rushing the passer from DE because he wasted him on too man snaps at DT while also having Graham drop into coverage from DE too often as Trent Cole complained about at the end of that season.

  • bill

    I agree with the premise Tommy has here – that’s the common sense approach to the ROLB position. And I do think that, until proven otherwise, the smart prediction is the common sense one.
    That said, it’s still open to debate over whether the team will prefer their imperfect ROLB to be deficient in pass rush or deficient in “well-roundedness.” It’s possible, that they think they can scheme better with the former than the latter. Hopefully, we’ll know more in a couple of weeks.

    • Tom W

      Pass rush v scheme. Pass rush wins. scheme is overrated. name of the game is get to the qb.

      And I dont think people realize that 3-4 OLBs .. especially the ROLB … there main job is get the qb …. coverage is a distant fourth after setting the edge and stopping the run. Steelers stud Rolbs barely covered anyone other than the flat. Literally rushing like 85-90 percent of the time. If you want scheme versatility, draft a tall athletic ILB who can cover tes and rbs like Van Noy or Christian Jones or the kid from Iowa who can run w slot wrs. 4-3 OLBs — much more important that they are strong in coverage … bc they don’t consistently rush but blitz on occasion like a carlos emmons or william thomas (von miller excluded).

  • Anders

    James Gayle is an interesting guy because of his size.

    I really like Attaochu, Smith and Scott Crichton

    • GEAGLE

      If Chip is hell bent on his tall and long ROLB, then Murphy, Hubbards bum ass and will Clarke are really the only option..

      Marcus has the arm length that would probably get Chip to overlook that he is two or 3 inches shorter than we would prefer…Saying we need an OLB is too basic. OUR OLB needs to rush standing up and with his hand in the dirt since we often use 4man lines on 3rd so I think Marcus, and Attachou are ideal..The Nigerian spent this year as a DE, while last year he was a OLB, who even was dropping into coverage…I don’t think we would like Murphy more than those two, but who knows…I’m not up to speed with the kid from Oregon State, but I’ll take your word for it…also think Cole has enough in the tank to time share with KVN for a year, before we get a real ROLB, and then move KVN inside where he needs to be….

      Just think we are going to be all over KVN:
      Meco’s future replacement
      Can be an adequate stopgap with Cole..paired with Barwin QBs don’t know who is dropping and who is coming, tho you don’t want KVN as ROLB for too long
      Can backup Barwin and Meco like we used Casey last year, if we also add the ROLB….just think he is an intelligent leader, and playmaking SOB that we will draft him first, and then try to secure a ROLB, if we can’t, BG,KVN,Cole can platoon stop gap for a year

      • GEAGLE

        Obviously adding KVN AND Marcus/Attachou would be ideal

      • Anders

        Kelly want length, but as you said, arm length matters as well. He picked 6’2 Logan because he had long arms and big hands.

        I think Kelly’s minimum is not 6’6 as you imply but more like 6’3 with 6’4+ been ideal

        • bill

          Question first, then deduction from expected answer: Isn’t the advantage of long arms the increased ability to get off of blocks (for defensive players)? Obviously, they can have other benefits (getting up in passing lanes, etc.), but that seems to be what I remember people talking about. If so, doesn’t it seem that pure height is less important to Kelly then arm length for defensive players? Especially if the player has the other measurable that indicate the ability to put on more productive weight? I’m just getting the feeling that height is less important than arm length, and both require context with the stats about ability to add weight.
          Who are the top OLB/DE candidates with superior arm length? If Tommy’s right, and the imperfect ROLB is going to be a pass rush specialist, arm length might be the defining characteristic.

          • Anders

            arm length means that the OT have a harder time blocking you if he cant get his hands on your torso. That is also why arm length is such a big requirement for OTs.

            You are 100% right that arm length is more important than pure height.

            Marcus Smith has some of the longest arms at 34 while also have good size and athleticism. Attaochu “only” have 33 inches.

          • bill

            What’s the deal with Howard Jones? Listed as DE, but the measurable on him certainly look more suited to LB. Shorter, but has longer arms. Is he a late round project that they should have interest in?

          • Anders

            and if we are talking great arm length, Will Clarke have almost 35 inches arms.

          • Sb2bowl

            That’s what I like about Mike Evans as well– has like 34″ arms, to go along with a 6’5″ frame. I doubt he’s in our range, but it’ll be fun to watch this upcoming draft!

          • Tom W

            Yep and he was one of the few d ends that ate Zach Martin for lunch … an otackle w shorter arms.

        • Insomniac

          He’s going to learn to make exceptions or he’s going to end up like Al Davis. With that said, I would cry if we pass up Lamarcus Joyner if he’s there for us in round 2/3.

          • Anders

            I would call Logan an exception on the height thing many only look at. They like long arms, but also good players.

            Zach Ertz have super short arms for a TE yet he was still picked.

          • Insomniac

            I was speaking of size in general. I don’t think we have a big enough sample size to determine anything yet.

            Personally, I think tall DTs would have issues with pad level especially NTs so Logan’s height being an exception wouldn’t seem likely to me. Ertz checked out in a lot of areas besides having ideal arm length.

          • Media Mike

            Great point on sample size. I don’t think we’ll have true “trends” until we have 3 full draft and free agent classes.

          • Sb2bowl

            Anders–
            Your logic and sound reasoning is not needed here, or on any “Eagles” blog…… we demand demands, table pounding, and exceptions for every rule and “nugget” of information.

            As John Kruk famously said: “I’m taking my ball and I’m going home!”

          • planetx1971

            I’ll be asking you to pass the tissues. I’ve said since I heard it that “big ppl” philosophy is A OK as long as it comes with an all things being equal caveat. We’ll be finding out REAL soon if that’s the case. On the edge of my seat~!!

      • Andy124

        Minor point, I wonder how much of the 4-man line on 3rd down was due to philosophy, and how much of it was adaptation to our current personnell. In other worse, if we had a badass pass rushing OLB, would they even want to switch to 4-man lines, or did they only do that to get maximum value out of Cole in those situations.

        • Anders

          I think it was more Cole.

          The whole point of the 3-4 is confusion, so playing 4-2 in nickle reduces that confusion.

          My preferred nickle is a 3-3 with like
          Curry-Logan-Cox
          Barwin-Kendricks-ROLB

          • Andy124

            I agree with all of that.

      • Ben Hert

        Think thats an interesting point about KVN as a stopgap for Cole. If he does show a significant decline this year or next, I think is viable to presume that KVN could step in there for a season or two and do well enough until we find The Guy. Then again, would you want an out of place rookie to take over at a position such as ROLB in the 3-4?

  • T_S_O_P

    In the lottery of late rounders and UDFAs, Elhadji Ndaiye of Nebraska Kearney, is a player I’d be interested in. Maybe, that’s just my love of nuggets.

    • Anders

      Totally forgot about him. Super sleeper freak who might take a few years to get an NFL body and learn technique

    • Maggie

      Eli Nugget sounds much easier to pronounce.

  • Jason

    Unless Barr slips to 22, I’m all for targeting the 2nd rounder on our edge rusher — Attaochu, Marcus Smith, Crichton — where the value appears to be settling. Sandwich that pick with secondary and a WR in Rounds 1/3 depending on how the board shakes out.

    • Media Mike

      Attaochu might not come around to us again in the 2nd round.

  • GermanEagle

    Since his public support for DeSean – coupled with the Eagles interest in CJ Spiller – is it safe to assume that Shady will be on the trading block after this season..?!

    • SteveH

      Probably not.

    • Iskar36

      The craziest part about it is, while I normally would say to someone making this suggestion, “No way, you’re crazy to think we would get rid of one of our best players.” In light of the DeSean story this offseason, while I still think it is incredibly unlikely, I can’t confidently say there is no way that will not happen next year.

      • GermanEagle

        It’s crazy, innit??

    • Maggie

      Suggested it yesterday. Trade this year for Rams extra 1st round pick, then trade one 1st round pick down and keep the other. Stranger things have happened in the wacky world of the NFL.

    • A_T_G

      I think this quote from McCoy might be very important:

      “[But] anybody can go. So I think it just makes you straighten up a little bit more. Maybe things that you think that you can get away with, you can’t. And that’s how it is. It’s the NFL. “

  • Joe Minx

    Just read your SN article Tommy. I disagree about Barr. For some reason he gives me pause for concern. Though I do completely agree with you about DeMarcus Lawrence. Not understanding the lovefest for him at all. It seems like every year there’s got to be someone everyone just latches onto & tries to make into a 1st round-worthy guy when there’s really no basis for it. Guess maybe he’s it this year.

    • Insomniac

      *cough* Calvin Pryor.

  • Ben Hert

    OLB Hypothetical #1: Aldon Smith gets cut. Do the Eagles sign him?

    OLB Hypothetical #2: If you got Face-Off’d as Howie Roseman, would you sign him?

    OLB Hypothetical #3: Eagles sign him. Does this prove that the Eagles didn’t cut Jackson for his off-the-field issues, but more for his impact in the locker room and attitude?

    • Anders

      1: yes
      2: no
      3: yes

    • Insomniac

      OLB Hypothetical #4 – holy shit we got Aldon Smith?

    • Maggie

      Go to philly.com and read HOW MANY screwed things this guy has done. Now, if convicted, he will be spending the next few years in a Federal prison, where he can play “The Longest Yard”. In no way will he ever be playing on the Eagles.

      • Neil

        Wow, there’s stupid, and then there’s getting so frustrated at an airport you say you have a bomb.

      • Media Mike

        He’s a suspension waiting to happen.

        • SteveH

          A suspension is generous, his celebrity will only shield him from jail time for so long.

          • Media Mike

            He’ll get both I assume. But I bet Mr. Goodell sits him down longer than Mr. John E. Law does.

    • Media Mike

      Mr. Goodell and Mr. Smith have an appointment that is going to take place after Mr. Smith is sentenced for his terrorism crime and the shenanigans that took place at his home last year. Odds are he’ll be doing jail time and then taking some time off from the game. I wouldn’t touch Smith with a 10 foot pole.

  • Tom W

    If Barr falls to 19, move up and get him. If we trade down from 22 into early third, I think eagles will strongly consider Van Noy … and play him at times his first year in subpackages w Kendricks AND backup Cole and come in on third down at times. Move him over to ILB the following year to replace DeMeco unless he shows outstanding pass rush ability. Don’t think we even look at dee ford (short arms, short, horrible against run/edge) and doubt Kony is athletic enough to play olb from the games I watched. Wish i was wrong but doubt it.

    Otherwise, wait till 54 and take atta-boy or marcus smith. Love them both. Jeremiah has more upside as a pass rusher but may be a liability in coverage. Marcus is more versatile and better in coverage. still has room to grow as well. only played defense for two years. former qb. smart as hell. one will be there. most likely marcus smith. I don’t think Crichton is built well or athletic enough to play olb.

    if we wait till round 3, consider Trent Murphy. He has farm strength and impressed at combine w a great three cone and good 40 that his athleticism isn’t deficient. Reminds of Patrick kearney … already has crazy angry hands and long ass arms too get to qb but no upper body strenght … wait till this kid hits the weightroom … meanest SOB in the draft. great sports illustrated article. people would love this kid. right mindset, character, work ethic. The kid from NC is legit but I think he is pigeonholed as d end in a 4-3.

    Round 4, take the kid from West Virginia all day. Looked really athletic at his combine and proday. Long and powerful. I dont think the transition to olb will be that tough for him.

    Round 5 — getting dicey … Ronnie Powell from Florida I have liked for awhile but he isn’t a great pass rusher.

    Round 6 and Later … Larry Webster Bloomsburgh OLB … or if Chip thinks he has a heart and isn’t a psycho … Aaron Lynch from South Florida … great measurables .. but lost something while down in Florida … may be a lunatic. Boseko Lombo from Oregon as a backup for Barwin.

  • A_T_G

    If the rushing ability is so crucial, and if the choices are so slim at #22, would it make sense to give Miami our first for Dion? Include Graham and maybe get a third back?

    Does our FO think that is too rich? Are they hoping Miami drops the price? Are they going to wait to see what is available at #22?

    • ACViking

      When this topic came up a couple months ago, I remember it being said that Dion Jordan — if he were in the 2014 draft — rates higher than Anthony Barr. Athletically and as a pass rushing OLB.

      Given that no one projects Barr falling to 22, why wouldn’t the Eagles make the deal you suggest — without getting any picks back?

      There’s no guarantee the Eagles will trade back. (They explored that prospect during the 2013 draft but did not like the deals being offered. May run into the same problem this year.)

      Seems any hold-up is on the Miami side. No reason to rush into a trade. See what happens to Barr on draft day and offer up Jordan.

      Maybe the Eagles get fortunate and a team above them looking at Barr swaps a pick or two for Jordan, pushing Barr down the board — at least a bit.

      • D3Center

        I think any trade for Jordan will have to involve next years first because I just don’t see him getting moved before June 1st with the way the cap hit plays out. But I would be perfectly fine with Graham and next years first for Dion considering that would be equivalent to moving at best a 4/5th round pick in Graham and hopefully a low 1st round for the number 3 overall player last year.

    • GermanEagle

      Oi! You’re stealing my idea which I posted earlier today. That’s 10 push ups for you and one push up from Megan Fox!!!

      • A_T_G

        Sorry about that. I guess a good idea is a good idea. Anyway, here is the MF push up, the others you’ll have to take my word on.

        • GermanEagle

          Thanks, mate. Just made my morning.

  • Tom W

    Connecticut edge defender Jesse Joseph is among the players working out for the Eagles today, tweets Aaron Wilson. …. 6 3 250 de/olb at next level. late round pick/udfa

    • A_T_G

      Are teams still limited in the number of guys they can bring in? It feels like every player in the draft has been in.

      • Tom W

        think its 30 that come to the facilities. we can visit on campus as many as we want.

        interviews at ew schrine, combine, prodays, senior bowl, etc dont count against 30 either.

        I’m betting there is a ton we don’t know about either.

      • RC5000

        Player visits are different than workouts.

        • Allowed a maximum of 30 visits with prospects at their facility before the NFL Draft.
        • Allowed to conduct interviews, physicals and written examinations.
        • Not allowed to conduct workouts – timed or untimed – in the form of drills.

        http://www.chiefsspin.com/the-process-behind-pre-draft-visits/

        • Media Mike

          I define “local” as any player my team wants. Especially if he’s being recruited by Penn State and he lives on the planet earth.

      • D3FB

        The team can bring in an unlimited number of “local prospects” who either play at colleges in the area or are actually from the area.

        http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82826470/article/with-draft-looming-player-visits-kick-into-high-gear

  • Media Mike

    What a great scouts write-up by Tommy. Improving the pass rush on this team is critical. The horrific inability to get off of the field on 3rd down (and especially on 3rd and long) relative to the rest of the league was the worst thing on this team not named Alex Henery last year. Adding a QB killer at ROLB would be a most welcome addition.

  • Daniel

    Is it just me or do I hear more about Eagles failed trades and plans than any other team in the League? Is it just because I notice them?

    Dion Jordan, CJ Spiller, trying to trade DeSean…for starters