There is a strong possibility that the Eagles
will draft a 3-4 OLB or a LEO with their 1st round pick. Dion Jordan has obvious connections with Chip Kelly from their time together at Oregon. Ezekiel Ansah is also a possibility. Barkevious Mingo is probably a longshot, but not an impossible choice.
I'm assuming that Connor Barwin
will be one of the starting outside linebackers for our defense. He's the only player on the roster who has experience being a 3-4 OLB in the NFL, so I'd be very surprised if he is not a starter. That means there is only one starting spot available for an outside linebacker.
As far as we know, Brandon Graham
and Trent Cole
are both slated to be outside linebackers. The drawback is that neither Graham nor Cole have NFL experience as a 3-4 OLB. While both have shown talent as 4-3 Defensive Ends, it remains to be seen if they can be successful at a new position.
If Jordan or another OLB is the 1st Round draft pick, that does not bode well for either Graham or Cole. It is highly likely that this rookie OLB would be a starter from day one, meaning that both Graham and Cole would simply be rotational players at most. Even if Jordan is held back to give him more time to develop, the end for both Graham and Cole as Eagles starters would be near.
My opinion is that there is no OLB in the draft that gives me enough confidence to take with the #4 pick. While Jordan, Ansah, and Mingo all have potential, there are enough flaws in their game to make them less desirable choices than other players. I think that Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, and Chance Warmack are for offensive linemen this year what Andrew Luck
and Robert Griffin III
were for quarterbacks last year. If any of those three guys is available, you'd be foolish to pass on them. Because this is a transition year defensively, I'd be willing to experiment with Graham and Cole at outside linebacker. With that being said, I would not be mad if an OLB turned out to be the pick, but less excited than if the Eagles chose Joeckel, Fisher, or Warmack.
What I'd like to open up for discussion is what would likely happen to Graham and Cole if an OLB is chosen with the 1st pick. Will one of them get traded (even for practically nothing like Asante Samuel
)? Will both get traded? How much game time would either have if they are sent to the bench? Also, if no OLB is selected in the 1st Round, who would win a two-man competition for the starting job between Graham and Cole?