as we get closer to one of the most anticipated workouts in Indianapolis, let’s take a look at the linebackers that the Philadelphia Eagles could be looking at a little more closely. A position group that the franchise has historically overlooked in recent years might have the most important opportunity to improve in this draft.
Players to Watch
Nakobe Dean – Georgia
A dominant three-down linebacker that had his spotlight shine brightly in the National Championship game, Dean is the best linebacker in this draft.
Though a little undersized, he has the combination of lateral speed and power the Eagles fans have been begging for in the last few years. There is a history of smaller-size linebackers that have found true success in the NFL, and Dean could absolutely be one of those players. If Dean tests well in the combine, he can and probably will be the first LB taken off the board in April.
Devin Lloyd – Utah
Flip a coin between if you want Lloyd or Dean as the first LB because they are both similar players. While Dean has shown the physicality in playing in the SEC, Lloyd in the PAC-12 has the speed but hasn’t shown the same strength Dean has. He is excellent against the pass which could make for a better match in a Jonathan Gannon scheme than Dean, and is very flexible going sideline to sideline.
One of the best storylines will be which LB runs faster in the combine – and whoever does, could eventually be the first linebacker taken. The issue with Lloyd is one that won’t be able to be solved in Indy though.
Christian Harris – Alabama
Harris and Dean were all over the field in the national championship game. While Dean might be the best overall linebacker of the class, a strong combine could catapult Harris into the first round and into the conversation for first LB taken. Excellent in coverage against TE’s, quick enough to handle RB’s out of the backfield, and superb lateral movements make Harris an intriguing prospect.
Like most LB’s in the modern game, Harris has solid size for the position but hasn’t shown the consistent tackling capabilities needed for what is expected of a three-down backer. Still, Harris has proven worthy enough to be a potential Day 1-2 pick with whoever takes a chance.
Chad Muma – Wyoming
An excellent run defender, and instinctual athlete when moving sideline to sideline, Muma might be the sleeper candidate of this draft with a good combine.
He is quicker than the tape shows he is superb in pass coverage. The one main knock for him will be that the speed of the Mountain West is nowhere near the looks and talent he’ll be seeing in the NFL. If he’s able to quickly adjust to the size and speed, he will be an excellent diamond in the rough in the later rounds.
A good combine could see him go higher than most project though.
The Combine Hero
Quay Walker – Georgia
In case you haven’t noticed, Georgia’s defense was absurdly great last year. Quay Walker is another one of the uber-athletic- uber strong linebackers that can go anywhere in this draft. The problem with him is that he hasn’t had enough game tape to fully merit the looks a teammate like Dean is getting. Walker doesn’t have the breakaway speed that a player like Dean has. He also plays upright way too much for a sizable linebacker. Walker can certainly help his stock with a solid combine but it will ultimately be determined by his overall lateral movements.
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