The Eagles could stand to upgrade most of their players on defense. While DeMeco Ryans is a good leader and talented run-stopper, the Eagles are open to competition at all positions and looking at the big picture, a successor should be a key target in May's draft. One of the top inside linebackers in this year's draft is UCLA's Jordan Zumwalt, who brings a nasty attitude and toughness to the game.
An EA Sports second team All-American coming out of high school, Zumwalt was recruited to ans committed to UCLA. As a true freshman, Zumwalt appeared in 11 games (four starts) while producing 32 tackles and three sacks. In his second season, Zumwalt played in 13 games (four starts) and had 60 tackles (six for loss), an interception and a pass breakup.
As a junior, Zumwalt appeared in 13 games (nine starts) while producing 71 tackles (eight tackles for loss), two sacks and a pass breakup. In his senior season, he was the full-time starter for the Bruins. He started all 13 games and was the co-MVP of the 2013 Hyundai Sun Bowl. He ranked second on the team with 93 tackles and two interceptions.
Weight: 235 lbs
Arm Length: 31 1/4"
Hands: 8 3/4"
40: 4.76 seconds
Vertical Jump: 33 inches
Broad Jump: 116 inches
3 Cone: 6.99 seconds
Shuttle: 4.25 seconds
Zumwalt was used in coverage a lot and has experience in space. He is tall and lanky but hits very hard and is a relatively-good tackler. He is constantly making "statement hits." In three different tapes, he makes a victim of at least one player. I have in my notes "poor Logan Thomas," "poor Josh Huff" and "poor Ka'Deem Carey." The guy is just mean and brings the right attitude toward playing linebacker.
He can get off of blocks with speed and is pretty good at blitzing. He shows good burst on the inside blitz and has solid hips.
Zumwalt's instincts are questionable. There are times when he seems lost in both coverage and against the run. He also gets shaken out of his cleats at times by running backs. He has experience in coverage but is not all that good at it. It is safe to say he is average at best in coverage.
While he is tall, he lacks bulk. He has room to grow and gain muscle but currently is very thin. He is over-aggressive, which can lead to penalties. Zumwalt is not a dirty player but has a nastiness that sometimes gets out of control on tackles.
Zumwalt is athletic and tall, which are two attributes the Eagles love. He has an attitude that could set the tone in both the locker room and on the field, which would make him an admirable successor to Ryans. He will likely need a year of seasoning before becoming a starter, so Ryans spot on the roster makes him appealing. He will likely go in the late-2nd or early-3rd round so the Eagles will need to spend a Day 2 pick on the big man from UCLA. Whether or not the Eagles pull the trigger will likely depend on who is left on the board.