The signing of Stephen Tulloch has been met with mostly positive reactions from fans and writers of the Philadelphia Eagles, knowing that Joe Walker’s torn ACL was the catalyst in a process that became vital with the Eagles down to scarily low depth at linebacker..but it’s unclear what Tulloch’s role is going to be. Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson met with the media yesterday, and gave us a slightly clearer picture.
“It’s no different than Chase Daniel is on offense,”
So, if Stephen Tulloch is the Chase Daniel of the Eagles Defense, then who is the Carson Wentz? The answer may actually come as a surprise.
One would naturally assume that the likeliness would fall to Jordan Hicks. A younger guy with a huge ceiling who played tremendously well during his shortened rookie campaign. Hicks would be the perfect candidate to learn under a veteran linebacker who has not only thrived under Jim Schwartz, but even at the age of 30 amassed 107 tackles in a regular season. However, there is an even more suitable player for the role.
The man in question,is actually the player who inadvertently helped bring Tulloch to Philadelphia, Joe Walker. Because like fellow rookie Carson Wentz, despite a stellar preseason, Walker will be spending his rookie campaign on the sidelines..watching, learning, doing everything he can to prepare himself for his return.
Ahead of Walker on the depth chart is one more linebacker of interest, one that coincidentally resembles Sam Bradford. After this season, Mychal Kendricks is not guaranteed anymore money on his contract..and given that he’s never played a full 16 game regular season, this is very much a prove it season in a scheme in which his coverage flaws could be exploited.
There have been a few who have contemplated if Tulloch could potentially dig in to the starting snaps that Mychal Kendricks is going to play in 2016..and if he does, Kendricks could be at a severe disadvantage. Not only that, but if he were to be traded before June 1 of 2017 there wouldn’t be any “dead cap” hit for the Eagles..giving Tulloch a new lease of life and Kendricks a potential starting role elsewhere. If Kendricks wants to cement his starting role with the Eagles, 2016 HAS to be a big year.
Walker will be learning from a proven starter who’s Eagles future “could” be in doubt..and a veteran who has proven to be one of the most efficient run stoppers in the NFL when at his peak. The long term plan? The seventh round pick is poised to become a key factor of the Eagles linebacker corps due to just how well he fits the scheme. Just as DeMeco Ryans was the Mufasa to Jordan Hicks in his rookie season, Stephen Tulloch’s “Chase Daniel” role will be one of extreme similarity.
Walker ended his 2015 campaign leading the Oregon Ducks in tackles with 87 and recorded 6 for a loss as well as 2 sacks. He may not have the best size for the position, but in terms of bang for your buck..it might not get much better.
A 40-yard dash time of 4.56 and a 6’2, 236 pound frame make him incredibly elusive. In a very gritty and aggressive system implemented by Jim Schwartz, if Walker adds some extra bulk to his frame and build upon some huge run stops made in preseason and a big training camp, he could absolutely become a great role player in years to come.
Many are concerned about the 2016 season for the Eagles linebackers and what Tulloch’s role will be..evidently paying him $3M to sit on the sidelines is farfetched. However, the impact he will have on a linebacker who could one day develop into a key part of Schwartz’s Defense alongside Hicks and Bradham..could be worth every penny.
Mandatory photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports