It’s no secret that the Eagles don’t value linebackers as highly as other teams do. The team has had good linebackers in years past, especially in 2017 when they had the often injured Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, and Nigel Bradham. The 2020 depth chart paints a very different picture. T.J Edwards will be looking to be the focal point of that image.
Following the retirement of Jatavis Brown, the linebacking corps is down to its bare bones. Nate Gerry and Duke Riley (3-years experience) are the team’s most experienced players at the position, while the depth at both OLB spots is filled with unproven talents. At MIKE, it’s the rise of a UDFA from last year that many are now keeping a close eye on.
The story so far
To the surprise of several, T.J. Edwards slipped through the cracks of the draft and ended up signing with Philadelphia.
Throughout the offseason and preseason, Edwards shined alongside teammate Alex Singleton. Both linebackers gave their all and made the choice of who to keep extremely difficult. The answer was TJ Edwards.
“Both guys had really good camps… that was a tough call for us. I think that they have a little bit different skill sets, they play different spots in our defense. We went back and forth on it and decided to go with TJ” – Howie Roseman
Roseman may have struck gold with TJ Edwards as the second-year linebacker has been receiving praise from all over, especially his defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Schwartz found a way to trust in the rookie last season and the end result really impressed him.
“All that kid has done when we put him in the game is make the plays that have come to him,” Schwartz stated. “He has been physical, he has been a sure tackler, and he has been assignment sound. Those are all three good things to be said about a linebacker.”
Edwards pressed all the right buttons for the Eagles defense last season as the rookie produced an NFL leading highest tackle rate for a linebacker and received the second-best run defense grade among linebackers from PFF at 90.3. He ended his first NFL season with 30 tackles, allowing 2 completions on 5 targets.
The best part about the Eagles finding Edwards is that he’s the talent they need for the price they want. You can rarely say that in a sport like football but since Edwards was signed as an UDFA, the Eagles have the upper hand in this situation. Unfortunately, if Edwards continues to excel then he may put the team at a crossroads when payday comes along, especially if their raw rookies don’t produce as needed.
After watching Jordan Hicks go on to thrive in Arizona, Eagles fans understandably wanted to see production at the position as soon as possible. While its shape may be changing, T.J Edwards could well be the man in the middle in base looks for the foreseeable future.
Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports