Eagles Draft targets: Which linebacker makes the most sense for Philadelphia?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is pictured prior to the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 14, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and after a strong offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have one real question left to answer – ‘What on Earth is the plan at Linebacker?’ The Draft should present a few interesting solutions to Howie Roseman, but are there any prospects in particular that the esteemed GM should be targeting?

Which linebacker should the Eagles draft?

The Eagles find themselves in an interesting spot. The LB group lacks proven starters and has remained largely unaddressed through free agency. This in itself is perplexing given how valuable linebackers have proven to be under Vic Fangio, but if the Draft holds the answers, who are we to judge?

It’s widely assumed that the Eagles will at least be adding one linebacker in the upcoming NFL draft, but which one should they target?

Eagles Nakobe dean
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 02: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) enters the field during training camp on August 2, 2022 at the Novacare Complex in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Edgerrin Cooper

Perhaps the most complete linebacker in this year’s class, Cooper boasts an incredible blend of strength and speed and pairs it with a real tenacity in his play. He’s highly instinctive and plays with a high motor that’s visible no matter what game you’re watching.

The Eagles need someone who is great off the ball and can hold his own in coverage. That’s rare to find in normal circumstances and even harder in this class. Cooper is the cream of the crop and will be a target for plenty of teams as a result.

That presents an issue, however. With this group being considerably weak in terms of depth, there’s a chance that Cooper pushes the fringes of the first-round, which would either prompt a move back from the Eagles’ first, or up from their second to nab him.

Payton Wilson

Payton Wilson is a high-risk, high-reward prospect. Freakishly athletic and possessing some incredible instincts, he’s as rangy and impactful as linebackers come. He’s consistently around the ball, takes strong tackling angles, and boasts some sensational speed.

You could argue he’s just as good, if not better than Cooper, but two real concerns loom over him.

  1. Durability. Wilson has already torn his ACL twice and had a major shoulder surgery. That doesn’t exactly bode well for the rigours of the NFL.
  2. Talent level. Playing at NC State, we rarely saw Wilson play against future NFL-level talents and that could taint some of what we see on tape.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go before Cooper, but I also wouldn’t be shocked to see him drop to rounds 3-4 because of those concerns.

The Eagles aren’t really in a position to gamble on conditionals here. They need a cemented starter out of the gate and that might push them away from Wilson unless he falls blissfully into Howie Roseman’s lap.

ARLINGTON, TX – APRIL 26: The Philadelphia Eagles logo on the video board during the first round at the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium on April 26, 2018 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Jeremiah Trotter Jr.

A name that has become synonymous with the Eagles this offseason, Trotter is of course the son of the former Philadelphia legend. Does that mean the Eagles should target him, however? Probably not.

His play doesn’t exactly blow you away and he seems a touch slow when it comes to reading plays. His positioning is sloppy and there does seem to be a lack of real intent at times. Trotter is clearly a playmaker and has all the gifts to be a solid NFL linebacker in years to come, but the Eagles already have a project MIKE in Nakobe Dean, they don’t need another.

Trevin Wallace

Should the Eagles miss out on Edgerrin Cooper, Trevin Wallace is the perfect consolation prize. I’ve been grading this year’s linebackers on live streams and Wallace actually scored very similarly to Payton Wilson, but of course doesn’t come with the injury concerns.

He does lack the athleticism and burst that Cooper and Wilson do, but there’s an awareness of that in his play. Wallace takes reliable tackling angles (very important given the new rule changes) and clearly understands his assignments and how he can best execute them. You won’t see him flying around the field making huge hits, but he’ll lower his pad-level into ball-carriers, pass off receivers into coverage without compromizing his position, and make big plays when it counts.

I wouldn’t be shocked to hear Trevin’s name gaining traction as the Draft approaches, but this could be a brilliant bargain bucket buy if he’s around in the heart of the Draft.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire