The last time the Philadelphia Eagles selected a linebacker in the first round of the NFL draft was 1979. The organization has since, never really valued the position that high. There have been good players found in later rounds (Jeremiah Trotter-3rd round, Seth Joyner-8th round (1986), Mychal Kendricks-2nd round, and Jordan Hicks- to name a few), however under Howie Roseman both the value and talent evaluation of the position have suffered even more.
Focusing solely on the current personnel head, the linebackers the Eagles have drafted since Howie Roseman became general manager in 2010 are as follows:
*- Howie Roseman did not have final draft say / (Round-Pick)
- 2010*: Kennan Clayton (4-121) & Jamar Chaney (7-220)
- 2011*: Casey Matthews (4-116), Brian Rolle (6-193) & Greg Lloyd (7-237)
- 2012*: Mychal Kendricks (2-46)
- 2013: N/A
- 2014*: Marcus Smith(DE/LB) (1-26)
- 2015*: Jordan Hicks (3-84)
- 2016: Joe Walker (7-251)
- 2017: Nathan Gerry (5-184)
- 2018: N/A
- 2019: N/A
One word sums up this evaluation and selection of players: mediocrity. The talent the Eagles passed on in all of those drafts however, is not mediocre.
- 2010: Sean Lee (2-55) – Eagles took DB Nate Allen (2-37) / NaVarro Bowman (3-91) – Eagles took DE Daniel Te’o Nesheim (3-86)
- 2011: Justin Houston (3-70) – Eagles took CB Jaiquawn Jarrett (2-54) / KJ Wright (4-99) -Eagles took Curtis Marsh (3-90)
- 2012: Bobby Wagner (2-47) – Eagles took Mychal Kendricks (2-46) / LaVonte David(2-58) / Danny Trevathan (6-188) – Eagles took Dennis Kelly (5-153)
- 2013: No notables
- 2014: Kyle Van Noy (2-40) – Eagles took Marcus Smith (1-26) / Christian Kirksey (3-71) / Telvin Smith (5-144) and Avery Williamson (5-151) – Eagles took Taylor Hart (5-141)
- 2015: No notables
- 2016: Joe Schobert (4-99) – Eagles took Issac Seumalo (3-79)
- 2017: TJ Watt (1-30) – Eagles took Derek Barnett (1-14)
- 2018: No notables
- 2019: Mack Wilson (5-155) – Eagles took Shareef Miller (4-138)
The year that was most infuriating has to be 2012, not only because the Eagles passed on Wagner and took Kendricks a pick later, but they actually had another second round pick and took Vinny Curry over Casey Hayward in the same draft. Nevertheless, looking at the linebackers that were selected by the Eagles the only players who made the list go from awful to mediocre were Mychal Kendricks and Jordan Hicks, both of whom weren’t picks solely made by Howie Roseman. The linebacker position has never been a position that Howie Roseman has invested top level draft capital in, and the players he has selected as player personnel captain, (Joe Walker and Nathan Gerry) aren’t necessarily needle moving assets. The free agency market has yielded names such as Connor Barwin (2013), Nigel Bradham (2016), Stephen Tulloch (2016), Kamu Grugier-Hill (claimed off waivers in 2016), Cory Nelson (2018), LJ Fort (2019) Zach Brown (2019), and Jatavis Brown (2020). Nelson and Fort didn’t pan out with the team and were both released. Outside of Barwin, Bradham and Grugier-Hill, there hasn’t been much success for the Eagles on the free agency market under Howie Roseman either. As currently constructed the Eagles linebacker room includes, Nathan Gerry, Duke Riley, Jatavis Brown, TJ Edwards, and Alec Singleton. An underwhelming group to say the least.
As a whole, the NFL has de-valued the position however, whether a team runs a 4-3, 3-4 or multiple front, whether its an middle linebacker/inside linebacker, weakside linebacker, strongside linebacker, or scheme specific (Jack linebacker in a 3-4) almost every team has at least one starter level/elite level linebacker. As mentioned the organization has not taken a linebacker in the first round since 1979. The lack of prioritization, either in the draft or through free agency, placed on at least one playmaking linebacker that could make the defense go from good to great is maddening. There have been no truly elite level, feared type linebackers on the Eagles roster since the days of Jerimiah Trotter. The talent evaluation, coaching of and value within the Eagles organization of the linebacker position has to be better. I understand the position is not as valued as it once was, however, is investing in at least one linebacker too much to ask of Howie Roseman and company?
Follow us on Twitter