Voluntary workouts have concluded for the Philadelphia Eagles, with the next scheduled practice set to kick off training camp in over a month.
Like any scheduled practice session in the last couple of weeks, several players step up in a way that makes the fanbase get excited for the start of camp and the upcoming season. For the Eagles, one position that has been relatively surprising as a group has been the linebackers.
The linebacker position has been relatively devalued throughout the NFL over the last several years with several teams being unwilling to pay large percentages of their cap for a position that is relied heavily on the guys in front of them. While the Eagles have been certainly one of those teams to not value the linebacker position highly, they have invested draft capital at the position in a way to improve their overall chances.
Through the first two weeks of practices at the Novavcare Complex, the Eagles linebackers are the ones who have surprised the most.
The Eagles fountain of youth
Whether it’s Nakobe Dean becoming the play-caller on the defensive side at just 22 years old, or Davion Taylor being coached by his old college coordinator, the linebackers have become a group that has adopted the team’s philosophy in droves.
“We’re fast, we’re physical, and we’re for each other. I think that they feel that when you have those — being physical — they know that they have an advantage when they step out on the field. So, I think that’s offense, that’s defense, that’s special teams,” head coach Nick Sirianni said following the completion of OTAs.
Dean is the first linebacker that comes to mind when talking about the 2023 Eagles’ defense. The former third-round pick out of Georgia is a quick-minded player with excellent intangibles that should be a perfect fit with his fellow teammates. Even Christian Elliss, an undrafted free agent back with the team this year has stepped up and made a key difference in workouts.
It’s the new individuals like Nicholas Morrow that have seen a substantial difference in their NFL teachings since joining the Eagles this offseason. Morrow said during practices that he’s learned more about situational football than he’s ever had in his career.
That has been by design by the coaching staff at the helm.
“It’s just something that is in our core values. I can’t say this enough. Core values aren’t just something on the wall that says connect, compete, accountability, football IQ, and fundamentals, and we say that, and we walk out, and we don’t do that anymore. We practice it and we preach it every single day, so I’m glad [Nick Morrow] feels that way because we want him to feel that way. We want our guys to feel equipped to handle situations. We want our coaches to feel equipped to handle situations,” Sirianni explained.
Most analysts and fans rightfully expect Morrow and Dean to be the starting linebackers to begin the season with others like Shaun Bradley, Christian Elliss, and Davion Taylor helping on special teams. While Dean continues to learn how to be an NFL on-the-field play-caller, Morrow has had heavy competition for his starting role.
And with eyes turning to the start of training camp in July, the linebacker position will continue to be under heavy scrutiny in 2023.
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