After a rollercoaster week of Eagles news, there appears to be a positive story brewing on the defensive side of things. Former Browns DE Genard Avery is being moved to linebacker, according to Rischad Whitfield, better known as ‘The Footwork King’.
Whitfield has worked with several Eagles players over the past few years. Darius Slay and Rasul Douglas (before he was cut) stand out from the secondary, while former WR Josh Huff also received his coaching back in 2015.
This is actually kind of a big deal. If you remember (it’s hard to forget), the Eagles gave up a fourth-round pick in this years’ draft for Avery at the 2019 trade deadline. At the time, he was entering his second year in the NFL as a former sixth-round pick, following a rookie campaign where he amassed 4.5 sacks and 40 tackles.
The Browns then did what the Browns do best and decided to mess it up. A new coaching staff saw Avery go from an OLB, to a 4-2-5 DE. The Eagles were quick to snatch up the 6’1, 225 lbs, but he was used as a defensive end.
Avery registered half a sack in his Eagles debut, but ended the year with just 33 defensive snaps under his belt and 147 on special teams. One year later, Avery played in 11 games and appeared in just 11% of defensive snaps, while seeing 85% on special teams. He then picked up an injury in practice and was placed on IR.
However, in week 4 against the Niners, Avery tallied 5 QB hits in 16 snaps. 5. QB. hits. Demolishing a struggling 2018 first-round RT in Mike McGlinchey, the Memphis product lit up Nick Mullens over and over again, building up a 31.3% pass-rushing production rate, forcing a crucial interception via pressure alone and sending him careering into the turf on what felt like every other play.
A new defensive scheme may well present Avery with a new opportunity. It’s clear he can function well as a linebacker, but there was no room for that under Jim Schwartz.
We know that Jonathan Gannon’s system will require an actual investment at the LB position and while Avery may still be on the outside looking in, he brings real penetrative ability when shooting gaps and could be a fun player to watch if used correctly.
Genard Avery will likely find himself at the ‘WILL’ position, away from the stronger side of the formation where his lighter frame won’t be washed out of the play, and he can instead lean on his explosiveness and bend to get into the pocket and wreak some havoc.
There’s a long way to go, but a trade that was once regarded as an absolute whiff may have one last twist in the tale before the story ends.