If the Eagles do make the switch to a 3-4, as it seems all but certain they will, there will need to be some personnel changes in the front 7. One of the most crucial areas will be at outside linebacker.
So let's take a look at Mel Kiper's top 5 OLBs in the 2013 draft.
|2||Jamie Collins||Southern Miss||6-3||239|
|5||Arthur Brown||Kansas State||6-1||228|
Here's his overall take on the class.
Jones is a star -- no way around it. Greene isn't really a pure pass-rushing type; he's the kind of guy who's going to make 150 tackles for an NFL team at some point, likely working from the weak side. I think other smaller linebackers will limit the size questions.
Jarvis Jones - Sick production as a pass rusher while also being solid against the run. Had 13.5 sacks in 2011 and 14.5 in 2012. He also had 24.5 tackles for a loss. Has the physical tools for the position and is a natural leader. Mel Kiper has him rated as his #1 overall player in the 2013 draft.
The big, maybe the only concern about Jones is medical. I'll let our pals at Gang Green Nation explain.
Jones' biggest negative is his medical status. He has a condition known as "spinal stenosis." This is the same condition that forced Cooper Manning (Eli and Peyton Manning's brother) to retire from football, in addition to Marcus McNeill and Michael Irvin. I've consulted with a doctor regarding spinal stenosis, and although he hasn't inspected Jones' personally, he gave me some insight into the disorder, generally. Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal column where the nerves come through it at the bottom. It is a degenerative disease, so it could get worse progressively and he may never have a problem during his playing career, or it could degenerate quickly and force him to retire at a young age. With stenosis, Jones is more at-risk for paralysis than other players, especially because he plays such a physical position. In fact, USC refused to clear him to play, which is why he transferred to UGA. Jones' medical status is such a huge concern that he will likely rapidly tumble down the draft board once teams see his medical information come the NFL Combine.
While the disease hasn't really been an issue for Jones, it is certainly something that is important for NFL teams to consider. Last year, Matt Kalil got just under $20 million fully guaranteed over 4 years as the #4 pick. That's a pretty major investment the Eagles are going to have to make, so they'll need to be fully aware of the risks. They'll get a chance to get more medical information at the combine.
Jamie Collins - Interesting guy that actually came to college as a defensive back, but moved to linebacker. CBS sports compares him to KJ Wright of the Seahawks.
Muscular, athletic-looking frame with powerful hands and long arms. Accelerates well in a straight line, and exhibits good flexibility, both coming off the edge as a rusher, as well as when changing direction in space. Displays a knack for getting to the quarterback off the edge, with impressive natural power on contact, and ability to disengage when he uses his hands effectively. Flashes a strong, sudden closing burst in space. Appears natural and comfortable in his lower half when asked to drop into zone coverage. When he gets his arms extended at the point of attack, can really manhandle his blocker. Doesn't possess a ton of short-area burst when breaking down to make tackles in space, but uses length nicely to compensate.
Khaseem Greene - Another athletic guy that switched from safety to LB in college. Can matchup with TEs and RB in the pass game and has good range, but probably a better fit in a 4-3.
Chase Thomas - Not an elite pass rusher like Jones, but certainly capable in that area. Extremely high effort guy who was productive at Standford. There are questions about his athleticism, so the combine will be big for him.
Arthur Brown - Happens to be the older brother of Eagles RB Bryce Brown. Is very athletic and shows good range against the run. Very productive and capable against the both pass and the run, but is undersized. Probably needs to be a WILL in a 4-3. Really talented guy though.