Converts

Posted: May 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 24 Comments »

Pete Rose helped the Phillies win the World Series back in 1980. He did that playing first base. Rose played third base for the Reds in 1978, but Mike Schmidt manned the hot corner in Philly so Rose had to change positions when he came to town. Over to first he went. This wasn’t a big deal for Rose, who had already spent full seasons at second base and all 3 outfield spots in his career. Rose is obviously an extreme example, but changing positions is part of baseball.

Football is different. Players find a home and tend to stay there. I can’t see Donnie Jones and Darren Sproles switching spots this year, although it would be fun to see Jones get to show off his dynamic athletic ability. You know he’d leave a trail of DBs and LBs behind him, all begging for mercy. We’ll have to settle for seeing him boom punts this fall.

The Eagles are going to move Nate Gerry from SS to OLB. This will be a challenge for Gerry and the team, but it can work.

The first thing you have to look for is skill set. Thomas Davis played S at Georgia, but moved to LB in the NFL. I had no doubt that he would succeed. Davis might be the most physical college player I’ve ever seen. Playing in traffic and having to deal with blockers wasn’t going to be an issue for him. If anything, those poor guys were the ones who were going to have the problem. Davis has thrived at LB in the NFL.

Gerry isn’t anywhere close to Davis in terms of talent or physicality, but he is a tough, physical player who is comfortable near the LOS. He is a good hitter and tackler.

https://twitter.com/WeAreDBNation1/status/837352439552561152

It is one thing for a player to hit WRs over the middle. It is another to come downhill and take on a RB head on. Gerry doesn’t just run to him. He wraps up and tackles the runner. That’s good, physical football.

Here is another example of his physicality.

Taking on a FB isn’t the same thing as battling OL, but it shows that he will do the dirty work. This isn’t a guy who expects to sit in space and have clean, easy targets in front of him. He will play in traffic and fight to get to the ball. LBs have to do that all the time.

Some want LBs who can shed blocks. Some want LBs who can run. Some want LBs who can hit. Some want LBs that can cover. Most important to me is the ability to tackle. More than anything, my LBs must be able to wrap up and put players on the ground. Gerry does that well. He gets into good position and then uses his hands/arms to secure the runner/receiver. There are times when he’ll go for the big hit and that’s fine. Most of the time, you want to tackle. It isn’t as flashy, but that’s how you get offenses off the field. Tackle.

Gerry has a LB frame. He was 6-2, 218 at the Combine. He can easily add 10 pounds and have enough bulk to play LB. With the emphasis on the passing game these days, there aren’t a lot of 250-pounds LBs out there. Someone that is 6-2 and in the 225 to 230-pound range is big enough. Sometimes numbers can be deceiving. There are guys who are 225, but don’t look it. Gerry does. Check out the picture at the top. That doesn’t look like your typical DB. He looks like a LB.

This also isn’t completely new to Gerry. He played some LB in high school and Bo Pelini recruited him to Nebraska to play LB for the Huskers. He did play that as a freshman and even got some starting experience. Gerry became a fixture at S for his final 3 years, but his background can’t hurt.

What will Gerry have to work on?

He loved to attack downhill in college. As a LB he won’t be able to do that as much. He can shoot gaps on some plays, but will also have to move more laterally. Gerry will have to learn to use his hands better when fighting off blockers. He did some of that at Nebraska, but not like this. He will have to stack and shed blockers on a regular basis. That means playing with leverage, power and using your hands really well. There is a technique to taking on and defeating blockers. This will challenge Gerry quite a bit. Some guys who play LB for 4 years in college struggle to deal with blockers.

Diagnosing plays will be different. At S, Gerry was back and had time to read what was going on in front of him. At LB, you are right by the action. You have less time to key and diagnose plays. It has to become second nature. Gerry is a smart player and shows good instincts, but he still has plenty of learning to do.

I think Gerry has the size, skills and background to make the transition to LB. It won’t be easy, but the potential is there. One advantage he does have is that his experience as a DB will help him in coverage situations. Some young LBs struggle with that area when they come to the NFL. Gerry knows how to cover RBs and TEs.

*****

Fran Duffy and his trusty sidekick Greg Cosell took the time to break down Gerry and the LB role in the Eagles defense. Good stuff, as always.

*****

Gerry isn’t the only Eagle on the move.

  • Greg Ward is going from QB to WR.
  • Byron Marshall is going from RB to WR.
  • Taylor Hart is going from DT to WR RT.
  • Billy Brown is going from WR to TE.

Marshall may get plenty of time at RB as well. The talk this weekend is that he’s being “cross-trained”. That wasn’t the case a few weeks back. With the Eagles not having ideal depth at RB, it makes sense to get him some reps there.

Hart is the most interesting guy on this list, but he has an uphill battle because of time. He’s been in the league a few years already. I’m curious to see him this summer.

Ward has the skill set to be a good slot receiver. He played some receiver early in college so this isn’t new to him.

Fran is higher on Brown than I am.

*****

Players have moved in the past. Some worked, some didn’t.

Ray Farmer was a SS at Duke in 1995 and was the SLB for the Eagles in 1996. He won NFC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance in a shutout of the Giants that fall. A knee injury killed his career.

Reno Mahe was a highly productive WR at BYU. Andy Reid had him bulk up and move to RB. I always thought they should have had him stay lighter and play slot receiver.

Matt Ware was a stud CB at UCLA, but a bit stiff. He tried to play CB, slot and S in the NFL, but wasn’t a great fit anywhere. He did manage to play 7 years in the league so he obviously found some niche.

Chris Gocong was a great DE in college. The Eagles moved him to SAM and he was okay, but never developed into the player they hoped. He was an effective starter for a few years. He was no Greg Richmond, obviously (joke for the old timers from the EMB).

A couple of players came to the Eagles after having moved. Brad Smith was a great QB for Missouri. He moved to WR and STer in the NFL and proved to be a good role player.

One of the greatest transitions in NFL history is Jason Peters going from blocking TE at Arkansas to Pro Bowl LT in the NFL. The rarest of the rare. If he could give just a bit of his magic to Dillon Gordon, that would be great.

_


  • A_T_G

    Wasn’t Billy Brown cut already? Am I confusing him with someone else?

    • Rellihcs

      I read it as he was listed as an expected UDFA but he wasn’t on the initial 10 player official signing list. Then, he was signed.

  • tomw

    The first thing they need to teach this young man, is how to walk away from the guy he just tackled.

    • A_T_G

      Yep. Those tackles aren’t nearly as impressive after you walk off the 15 yard taunting flag.

  • daveH

    Reno Mahe in the slot wudve been far better

    • DrGeniusPhD

      couldn’t have been much worse.

    • Bert’s Bells

      Nah, he would have taken snaps from First Down Freddie.

  • xmbk

    I’m going with diagnose/instincts as #1 for LB. But that’s a good checklist for how good a guy might become.

  • FairOaks

    Is it always possible to “easily” add 10 pounds? He looks pretty built already, so you wonder if he’s added most of the weight he can already. I’m sure NFL staffs could be better at figuring that out, but even in Tommy’s draft review, he wrote: “Gerry isn’t going to get much bigger. He already has a thick neck and that tells you he’s filled out on his frame for the most part. Some guys are his size naturally and others are that size after bulking up. He had to work for his size.”

    • bentheimmigrant

      I found it pretty easy…

      • DrGeniusPhD

        I did it last week.

    • Sean Stott

      I hear drinking melted Haagen-Daz works wonders if you need to add weight quickly

      • FairOaks

        Well if *that’s* all you need to transition from safety to linebacker…. then his smoothies might be a tad better than the rest.

  • Media Mike

    I don’t like Gerry to begin with, most of those clips show him not bringing down the ball carrier the point of contact, that’s not likely to get better at LB in the NFL.

    I don’t like Gerry from a value standpoint. Multiple places had him on UDFA status and I hate reaching.

    I don’t like Gerry from a position change standpoint, that seems like a lot to pull off.

    I just hope they don’t double down on a mistake by just awarding him a spot on the 53 if he doesn’t earn it. I was very happy how they quickly moved on from that Blake Countess debacle last year.

    • Mitchell

      *sigh

    • Steve Smegal

      It seems pretty obvious that your entire evaluation of picks is based on what grade the pick would get from firstpick.com.

  • 受教了!呵呵!

  • Dude
    • Rellihcs

      I believe you mean Mack HoLLINS. And hopefully he’s not Josh Gordon – I want him on the football field as long as he’s able to be… But yeah, the hype is funny. Bleedinggreen nation put something up – probably same link or something. “anonymous sources” from rookie minicamps are funny.

      • Dude

        Autocorrect fail.

        • Rellihcs

          Damn robots…

  • Jernst

    Completely off topic: I’ve been pretty luke warm on Derek Barnett throughout this whole draft process, but I recently went through and watched a bunch of his game film including some full games, and while I still see all those things that gave me pause initially I have to say the more I watch him the more impressive his ability to bend, dip under the LT, while swatting away his hands and then flatten to QB (all at full speed) gets.

    I haven’t seen a prospect come out that can do that so consistently well in a long time. Hell…most pro DEs can’t do that as well as Barnett. His physical limitations might keep him from ever being a 15 sack a year guy but I’m more confident than ever that he’s, at the very least, a perennial 8-12 sack guy. Given his age I would not be the least bit surprised if he retires with over 90 sacks in his career.

    • Rellihcs

      Agreed. Although I think his “physical limitations” are BS. Lacking freak skills to me is not a limitation. To me that’s like saying a car can’t go from 0-100 in 2 seconds, so it will struggle on city streets and highways….

      Anywho, I had a similar level of increased excitement and thoughts about potential when watching additional tape of him. But it’s way beyond sacks. He has very good potential for run D – including forced fumbles, tackles for loss, and other non-sack DE plays like dropping in coverage and pass break ups, as well as jumping and tipping balls at the LOS.

      He’s got the making of a complete DE, and a very skilled and consistent one at that.

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