With Jason Phillips heading to the injured reserve, the Eagles have added a new linebacker to the team's roster. Undrafted free agent Travis Long has been signed to add depth to the Eagles' outside linebacker group. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound pass rusher was a decorated college defender and was a starter during his entire career at Washington State (47 games).
A hybrid linebacker with similar skills to Ryan Kerrigan, Long has experience in both odd and even fronts. In his first two seasons with the Cougars, Long was an honorable mention for the All-Pacific-10 Conference and won the Leon Bender (WSU Defensive Lineman of the Year) award as a sophomore. He was named to the Second-Team All-Pacific-10 in his junior and senior years, as well as Laurie Niemi (Cougar Attitude) award in his final season. During his four-year career at Washington State, Long compiled 201 tackles, 20.5 sacks (9.5 sacks as a senior) and 42 tackles for loss.
Long went undrafted in April largely due to an ACL tear that he suffered last November. He was unable to participate at the Cougars' Pro Day and is likely still recovering from surgery. The biggest obstacle for Long is his durability in a training camp that has already seen two players suffer the second ACL tears of their respective careers. However, at just 22-years old (birthday was last Wednesday), Long has little tread on his tires.
Long's name is fitting for his body type. He is lanky and hovers over guys. He is versatile and played everywhere for the Cougars, including inside linebacker, defensive end and outside linebacker. Long is a relentless rusher with a decent motor and is an extremely violent tackler. In general, he is an aggressive player and rarely gives up on plays. A natural pass rusher with good wrap up ability, Long finishes on sacks.
Even before his ACL injury, Long looked a bit timid as a runner at times. You will notice on tape that sometimes he is a bit too patient on tackles. He does get bullied at times against larger offensive lineman and relies way too heavily on the spin move. It will be interesting to see if he is used as a SAM or a JACK, because you wouldn't want him in coverage too often.
With a lack of solid depth at outside linebacker, the Eagles made a solid move in adding Long. While fans may be turned off by his health status, if given time to learn and recover, Long can be dangerous and develop. He is definitely a rookie injured reserve candidate with staying power and natural ability. If given the chance to compete, he may be an upgrade over Everette Brown and Phillip Hunt, due to his experience in the 3-4 defense. This move is basically another transaction with the potential to prove that Howie Roseman is a lot smarter than the rest of the league's general mangers.
Here is a glimpse of Long against BYU: