With the Senior Bowl game fast approaching and all practice sessions now finished, here are 3 linebackers you should be watching as potential targets for the Eagles come April.
Monty Rice – LB – Georgia
Coming out of Georgia alongside some of the best defensive prospects this year, Rice had a great 4-year career for the Bulldogs. He played on the inside and developed into an extremely versatile linebacker. This could really benefit a ‘positionless’ Eagles defense.
He’s a solid run defender who uses his great agility and overall athleticism to pursue the ball carrier and bring them down quickly with his decent tackling ability.
As the ILB for the Bulldogs, Rice was tasked with a lot of man coverage on RB’s and he showed over that time, that he had the necessary speed, especially over the 5-10 yard mark, to keep up and cover running backs on quick routes. Rice had a great shortened 2020 season, with 49 total tackles, 1 sack, 2 force fumbles and 1 pass defended.
The one major issue Rice has right now is he’s currently undersized for the position. Standing at 6 foot and 238 pounds, your natural ILB size is a fair bit taller, but it’s not like Rice hasn’t proven he can play the position to a high level.
Another issue Rice has is on the occasional play he can take a little too long to process what’s going on, leading to a late reaction. He’ll have to build on that foundation at the next level.
Paddy Fisher – LB – Northwestern
Paddy Fisher enjoyed an incredible 4 years at Northwestern where he consistently produced every game and his stat line shows it. Fisher produced 389 total tackles, 2 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, 4 interceptions, and 10 passes defended over those 4 seasons. That’s the kind of production that the Eagles have been lacking.
Fisher’s size of 6 foot 4 and 239 pounds combined with his great tackling form creates one of the best productive finishers I’ve ever seen, with 10 forced fumbles. He has everything you’d want at the ILB position, size, strength, production, and a high understanding of his role.
Fisher is a big-play specialist. Given his size, he’s an impressive coverage linebacker who can be really physical with small receivers and even some tight ends, if he has to be.
Just a straight-up violent rusher if asked to be, physical football is his brand. However, with his size comes limitations. He hasn’t got the speed or explosiveness you’d want from a linebacker and will struggle to keep up with running backs and smaller receivers on quick, twitchy routes. He’ll also miss tackles because he can’t get to the place he needs to be all the time. There’s nothing wrong with the way he tackles, he’s just not always able to get to the position he needs to be. Overall, Fisher holds strong value in the draft and would be a great addition to the linebacker group in Philly.
Charles Snowden – LB – Virginia
If the Eagles want another project linebacker for the new coaching staff to get their hands on then the physical monster that is Charles Snowden is the one they’ll want.
Standing at 6 foot 6 and 232 pounds, Snowden has the desired size and length to play the position, and probably some extra too! His length comes in incredibly handy for pass coverage reps and he’s shown some outstanding flashes in both man and zone coverage, especially zone coverage.
Another benefit from his height and length is his tackling. He’s highly productive and has the perfect size to wrap anyone up, from running backs to tight ends, and bring them to the floor efficiently.
With 2 interceptions and 15 passes defended, Snowden has proved his worth in the pass coverage but it’s in the pass rush area of the game where Snowden really took off this year. In a shortened campaign this year, Snowden had 6 sacks, to go along with his 5 from last year, and with his size, he’s basically just another EDGE rusher for Virginia.
However, Snowden is still incredibly raw. He can definitely take advantage of his size superiority more at the position and really learn how to beat blockers in the run game. His hip movement can be a letdown at times and it’s mainly down to his big frame, so man coverage against twitchy route runners would be off the menu for Snowden.
He also watches the backfield well, but he definitely needs to learn how to take the best route to the runner, as well as needing to add more pass rushing moves if he’s to really hit the potential that he has.
The Senior Bowl is easily one of the best parts of the draft build-up and the linebacker grouping is stacked. There are a few more names I’d love to honorably mention, like Tony Field out of West Viriginia, Baron Browning out of Ohio State, KJ Britt out of Auburn, Chazz Surratt out of North Carolina, and finally Hamilcar Rashed Jr out of Oregon State.
The Eagles have a great group of linebackers to watch on Saturday.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire