OverReaction? Reevaluating our LineBacker options based on Film Breakdown

After the Eagles selected Marcus Smith Thursday night, I was shocked, my words exactly were what the f***? I went on a anti-Chip tirade against the pick, thought he acted out of desperation, thought we could of traded down one more time and picked him up. It felt like asking for a xbox for christmas but getting clothes instead. Someone suggested I go back re-evaluate the situation, pay no attention to the pro days, spider graphs, and combines or mock drafts and watch his film again to see if i still feel the same way. I did exactly that, watched every play from every game available for me to watch but I went one step further and did the same for other linebacker prospects that could of been anm option for us to draft. Considering Khalil Mack and Clowney were in no way options, I focused on Ryan Shazier, CJ Mosley, Marcus Smith, and Anthony Barr. Below is my breakdown of their tape and analysis based on film alone. You can do the same as I did, just visit and tell me what you think of my breakdown. Thanks for reading

Ryan Shazier vs Clemson, Penn State, California, Michigan, Michigan state, Indiana


-hustles, plays to the whistle

-solid in coverage, didn't see him play a lot of man, but very fluid

-when i watch him play i see a safety convert, this is in no way a linebacker in the NFL, this is a safety

-versatile - drops back into coverage often, played mostly inside, but saw him line up with his hand in the dirt off the edge on occasions

- just a great job of reading and reacting

- could be an effective blitzer off the edge if he uses his speed, or if a blitz is disguised well enough, not someone you'd want bullrushing up the middle, plays smaller than he is

- great quickness

- gives his best, plays to the best of his ability, no lack of effort in Shazier, but don't confuse that with a guy playing with agression


- embarrassing, simply embarrassing when lineman reach the second level against Shazier, sometimes driven 10-15 yards back, the Michigan game alone, I actually felt bad for him, which is rare when I watch film

- can't seem to shed blocks

- makes tackles 3-4 yards past the line of scrimmage, needs to attack the line of scrimmage

- lacks strength, ignore his combine results, he simply gets pushed around when he blitzes.

- doesn't play with aggression at all, I want to rout for the guy, because he plays his heart out, but watch a true edge rusher than watch Shazier

-not an elite pash rusher, a lot of the pressure on the qb is from missed blocking assignments, or just being unblocked


After watching Shazier again, He simply isn't a linebacker in the NFL. I'm going off film and film alone. He could be a really good box safety if given the chance and looses a little weight. They used him inside most of the time, and he simply doesn't have the power or size to do the same in the NFL. I like Shazier a lot because he plays smart and hustles, seems like the type of player Chip would want on his team, but at 6'1'' I have a hard time seeing him being able to bulk up, doesn't have the frame of a linebacker in 2014, looks and plays like a safety. If we drafted him, than Connor Barwin would become the primary edge rusher without a doubt. Shazier would be simply a coverage backer, or some kind of hybrid player. If you wanted Shazier for pass rush or stuffing the run, be glad we didn't select him. A team is going to get burned drafting Shazier to play Will not for lack of effort, hes just too small and not strong enough to be a 3 down backer that can attack the line of scrimmage

CJ Mosley vs Auborn, LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss


- prototypical inside linebacker

- deceivingly quick at times

-sheds blocks well, impressive strength

-very solid in coverage, can run with tight ends or running backs, almost underrated as a coverage backer

- great football IQ, future QB of someones defense

- solid tackler, delivers a powerful initial blow

-extremely high ceiling, a lot of room for improvement which will come with time and experience, if he decides to put in a ton of work in the classroom, this kid will be one of the best inside backers in the league 2-3 years from now

- day 1 starter


- honestly had a hard time thinking of one. nothing glares out besides not being extremely impressed with him as a rusher and could work on diagnosing where the ball is going on running plays a bit better.


After watching film of Mosley again, I come away very impressed for two reasons. He's got great natural instincts in man coverage, it really surprises me because when you look at him you think hes a prototypical run stuffer but he's got so much more to his game. The other thing that impresses me is I see the potential for him to be a All Pro Linebacker, not this year, maybe not in 2 years, but 3-4 years down the road if he dedicates himself to the film room, endless possibilities for him. It really depends on what he decides to do, he can be a good NFL player but he really could turn into a dominant linebacker if he wanted to. If the Eagles drafted him as Demeco Ryans eventual replacement, I would have no issues at all. If he started year 1 for us there would be some growing pains without a doubt. Sometimes I think can he improve a little bit anticipating which hole the run is coming into. But there is not one hole in his game that can't be improved through endless hours of film study and dedication to his craft. If we got him at 22, think it would be a steal.

Anthony Barr vs USC, Stanford, Washington, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico State, Nebraska, Nevada


- exactly the type of measurements you want from todays edge rushing linebacker

-versatile, standing up, can play with his hands in the dirt, can drop back and cover, although I didn't see enough on film that shows me he wont be a problem in coverage. When I compare Mosley to Barr and Shazier as far as coverage is concerned, I actually rank Mosley one tier higher than both of them taking into consideration how bulky Mosley is.

-provides a decent edge rush, utilizes his speed to his advantage

- good instincts, sticks to whatever his responsibilities are and executes, if his job is to contain, hes containing

- pretty good power for his size, doesn't get pushed back off the line of scrimmage to often, gets his fair share of double teams and chips

- all the tools in the world to become a 2014 versatile outside linebacker, how bad does he want it though?


- i question how much heart he has, sometimes it feels like he goes 100% when he has a chance to make a highlight for the highlight reel, but there's enough plays where i watch him and it doesn't seem like he's going 100%. can not stand watching when the play is a little bit away from him he does a light paced jog in the general direction of the play sometimes

-im watching film right now of him against standford, there it is again, going half speed because he thinks the play is away from him, almost had enough watching his tape it aggravates me so much- i question how much heart he has to become great in the NFL. feels like the type of player that will do just enough to become decent but not willing to put in the work once hes a pro

-kid has boom or bust potential written all over him

-7 minutes 25 seconds into the USC game, I stopped watching. gets an explosive burst, goes unblocked, runs down the ball carrier, ball carrier slips out runs for another 5 yards, while play is still live, Barr walks in the opposite direction of the play back to where the ball will be placed once the play is over. With the natural ability this kid has one thing I can not stand is when someone doesn't finish a play or show 100% effort when they have all the talent in the world to be great.

- could add a bit more weight to his frame if he wanted to

- i caught one play in the Oregon game where he was supposed to rush, and almost seemed like he pretending to make a effort. Like if i had said to a lineman, I won't go hard if you don't go hard. Ive heard people call him a poor mans Dion Jordan but it wouldn't be because Dion's a better player its because Dion has more heart


If Im Howie Roseman and I have the option of selecting Anthony Barr, im flipping a coin. This is exactly the type of player Chip wants as far as his size and his versatility and flashes elite playmaking. But I beg anyone to watch all his film from 2013 very closely and dispute my claim that he lacks heart . There's a reason he was projected to slide in this draft and in my eyes I now know why. Some people had him going anywhere from top 10 to somewhere in the mid 20's, but I can tell you its not because of talent. He's a top 10 talent without a doubt, I just question what kind of player hes going to become once he gets a pay check, I think hes lazy at times, get the impression hes a bit of a primadonna at times, and doesn't play to his potential for 60 minutes. Bust potential and I predict out of the league in 4 year, top ten talent all day though

Marcus Smith vs USF, Houston, Miami Connecticut, Rutgers


-plays with aggression and to the whistle - hustles never takes a play off

- provides constant pressure

-incredible leg strength, upper body strength looks pretty good, but could probably spend a little more time in the weight room getting stronger up top

-versatile, can line up with his hand in the dirt or standing up and sometimes dropped back, didn't see enough of him dropping back or playing man for me to say how good or bad he is, looks a lil stiff but not to bad

-pretty good instincts when i think of Marcus Smith first thing that pops into my mind is pass rusher 1st run defender second

-raw talent, high ceiling

- if your looking for Dion Jordan 2.0, its not him, different player more like a smaller Trent Cole 2.0 but with a little more agility

-converted quarterback, understands what the offense is trying to do, high football IQ

-has the frame to add some more weight, maybe 10-15 lbs, 20 at the most


-pass rush technique - too many times I watch him drive the edge on his rush, if he cant beat a tackle with his speed and power he gets driven wide - a lot of the sacks I saw out in film were out of either missed assignments and a great defensive scheme - not sure who calls Louisvilles defensive plays, but does a fantastic job putting their players in a position to make plays as a side note.

-he obviously favors driving the edge on a edge rush, needs to learn how to set it up better. fake inside, get the tackles hips turned then drive outside or vice versa. needs to get stronger with his hands and making a initial punch when he has to, Trent Cole has perfected this and he could learn a lot from him. don't want to be a 1 trick pony with your pass rush moves in the NFL, he tries to use moves at times, the Rutgers game especially, but he's not as good with ripping, or punching, or any other kind of pass rush move than he is with a quick edge rush

-pass rush specialist, while that's not a bad thing, when I see him against the run, sometimes feel like he's not strong enough to contain, but to his credit he gets doubled at times. its really about technique and upper body strength, he's smart enough to know where hes gotta be to make the play and tries, but he's got to free himself up quicker from offensive tackles to get to where he needs to be

-not as fluid in coverage for his size and make up as maybe he could be, see his body type as a mix between a Anthony Barr and CJ Mosley


I have a hard time deciding what kind of player he can be in the NFL or better yet what he should be. I haven't seen enough of him in coverage for me to say how good or bad he is. Drops into zone when hes asked to drop back, doesn't play a lot of man like Mosley does and didn't see the ball thrown his way all that much. he does look a little rigid, but does have enough agility and speed to stay with players when called upon. I don't think hes strong enough or built to play inside as a linebacker at all, hes a pure 3-4 rush linebacker. But this is what I really struggle with, he has the frame to add weight if he wanted to. When I watch him play I can't help but to think hes a young unrefined version of Trent Cole. Do you make him add 15-20 lbs of muscle and use him as a pure pash rusher or do you keep him at the weight he is now and use him like Barwin? Too tough of a call for me to make. He's got a terrific motor, great effort every play. There's a lot of room for improvement though. He could come in to the right team and become a day 1 starter but it would need to be the perfect scheme fit. His first year in the NFL the defensive coach is going to have to be very creative in how they use him. Hate to call him a tweener, but it seems like he is a bit of one. Time will tell how Marcus Smith will turn out, when i watched Barr, Mosley, and Shazier's film, I felt like i knew exactly what I was getting with all three of them one way or another. After watching Smith, I just can't tell if he's going to become a 3 down player in the NFL or not. When Howie Roseman said its up to him, I truly also feel that way. He could become a great player, but i don't come away from film watching and saying to myself ok this is what were getting with Marcus Smith. Its a wild card


After watching and regrading all four players, the only one I feel like is going to be a lock is CJ Mosley. Just flat out impresses me every step of the way and is only going to get better. He's the only one I would of traded up for if the price was right. He's not the pass rusher Chip and Roseman wanted but believe me when I say, if he was sitting at 22, no way we pass up on him. Shazier I was initially high on pre draft, but when you start comparing tape of other linebackers, it becomes clear Shazier doesn't looking like a inside or outside NFL linebacker. If we took him at 22 or 26, it would of been a major reach. I grade him now as a 4th round talent as a linebacker. As a safety convert or some kind of hybrid safety/linebacker position, I give him a go with a late 2nd, early 3rd. If it came between Barr and Smith at pick number 22, I;d literally flip a coin. Talent Alone I'm picking Barr, but there's some things about Barr that looks like red flags, its not that he has bad character. Its because I see what he could be and its frustrating to watch a player who could be so dominant appear that he's not giving his all every play. Now I know sometimes a player is going to take off a play here and there, but Barr really concerns me to be a player that is going to bust in the NFL. Marcus Smith, if you would of told me he's going to be a first round pick, I'd say his best home would be the 49ers where they might have concerns regarding Aldon Smith's future. I'd hate to call Smith a luxury pick for a team, but for me he's too raw to be a day 1, 3 down impact player. He's got 1-2 years of development ahead of him. I believe he has a shot to become successful because it appears he has the drive when i watch him play.

Mosley = my true first round choice for linebacker

Shazier = wouldn't draft him unless it was a 3rd round pick

Barr & Smith = honestly, flip a coin

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