The Eagles had two of the better linebackers in the league last season with Jordan Hicks manning the inside and Nigel Bradham having an outstanding season at outside linebacker. Their third guy, Mychal Kendricks has been an enigma his whole career and barely saw the field this season, rarely making an impact when he did. While the Eagles may be happy to stay in two linebacker sets most of the time anyway, they would be smart to address the position this draft. Hicks is going to be in Philadelphia a long time, but Kendricks is in a constant state of almost being traded and Bradham is on the last year of the deal. This linebacker class has some intriguing players from top to bottom, so the Eagles could find nice options on each day.
2016 Stats Provided CFB Stats
13. Alex Anzalone, Florida, 53 Tackles, 4 TFLs, 3 Sacks, 2 PBUs, 6 Hurries: Alex Anzalone would be much higher if he had been healthy during his time at Florida. His career was marred by injuries and he had issues developing into a complete linebacker. Anzalone is a great athlete and that flashes in coverage, blitzing and against the run, but he is also wildly inconsistent. Anzalone has a high ceiling, but injuries and inconsistency could keep him from it.
12. Blair Brown, Ohio, 128 Tackles, 15 TFLs, 4.5 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble: Blair Brown is one of the more underrated players in this class. He is a bit undersized, but he is an intelligent athlete who moves well in coverage and comes downhill against the run. He might have issues in the NFL as a consistent run defender due to his lack of length, but possibly as a weak side linebacker he could use his speed and smarts to make an impact for a defense.
11. Ryan Anderson, Alabama, 61 Tackles, 19 TFLs, 9 Sacks, 3 PBUs, 10 Hurries, 4 FFs, 1 Interception: Ryan Anderson was an effective edge rusher for the Crimson Tide but his role in the NFL is likely off ball. Anderson is not the best athlete, but he is a very savvy and physical player whose skill set would best be suited playing strong side linebacker.
10. Anthony Walker, Northwestern, 105 Tackles, 10 TFLs, 2 Sacks, 5 PBUs, 6 Hurries, 4 FFs, 1 Interception: Walker brings a lot to the table in terms of athletic ability and dependability as a coverage linebacker. He can get very aggressive attacking the run and, as a smaller linebacker, that can come with consequences. Walker absolutely has a chance to start in the NFL with his speed and coverage skills. It will just be a matter of becoming more consistent against the run.
9. Duke Riley, LSU, 93 Tackles, 9 TFLs, 1.5 Sacks, 1 PBU, 3 Hurries, 1 Interception: Duke Riley really took off in his senior season after a few quiet years in Baton Rouge. The athletic linebacker has really impressive moments, especially in coverage, but as a smaller backer, he tends to get completely washed away in the run game. He tries to use his speed to win downhill but often guessing wrong will take him out of position and then he will get totally blocked out of the play. He needs to play smarter in order to truly put his athletic ability to use.
8. Vince Biegel, Wisconsin, 44 Tackles, 6 TFLs, 4 Sacks, 1 PBU, 7 Hurries, 1 FF: Biegel flew under the radar this season due to playing with TJ Watt, but Biegel is very solid player in his own rite. Biegel rushed the passer a lot for Wisconsin, but he is best suited playing off the ball in the NFL. He is an athletic, smart linebacker with good size and physicality. He would be best playing strong side in the NFL where he could fight through trash to make plays and sometimes function as a pass rusher in some schemes.
7. Kendell Beckwith, LSU, 91 Tackles, 6 TFLs, 1 Sack, 4 PBUs, 1 Hurry: Kendell Beckwith is not a flashy, super athletic linebacker but he is very solid football player. Beckwith is not only well built with ideal arm length, he also is very strong and intelligent. Beckwith spent a lot of time during his career playing on the edge which helped improve his ability to fight through blocks to make a play. Beckwith is a very steady player who may never be a dynamic playmaker, but will never be a liability on a defense.
6. Tyus Bowser, Houston, 47 Tacles, 12 TFLs, 8.5 Sacks, 3 PBUs, 9 Hurries, 1 FF: Tyus Bowser is among the more exciting and intriguing players in this class. Bowser was a very apt pass rusher at Houston but also showed a diverse skill set that would suggest he would be most effective playing off ball in the NFL. Bowser moves smoothly in coverage and has no problem fighting through contact to stop the run. He still needs to find some overall consistency, but there is no doubt he could be a dynamic chess piece in the NFL and the talk seems to be about him potentially being a first round pick.
5. Jarrad Davis, Florida, 60 Tackles, 6 TFLs, 2 Sacks, 4 PBUs, 5 Hurries: For a while, Davis has been one of my favorite players in this class. Davis is an undersized linebacker, but he is a very athletic one who plays like his hair is on fire. His speed, tenacity and physicality can yield some truly beautiful plays in coverage, against the run and as a blitzer. His aggressiveness can get him into trouble a bit too often to have him ranked higher, but he is an exciting player with high potential.
4. Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State, 102 Tackles, 7 TFLs, 2 Sacks, 4 PBUs, 2 Hurries, 2 FFs: Raekwon McMillan might as well be called clockwork because of how dependable he is. As a run defender and coverage linebacker, McMillan is steady; using a blend of intelligence, , physicality and athleticism to impact plays. He is not a flashy player, but one who will have a long and productive career in the NFL.
3. Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt, 125 Tackles, 12.5 TFLs, 3 PBUs, 1 Hurry, 2 FFs: Zach Cunningham is probably the best, most consistent run defender in this class. Cunningham isn't the most well built or the most athletic, but he is incredibly intelligent and very physical, making him an excellent sideline to sideline run defender who can also punish backs in a phone booth. Cunningham is steady enough in coverage where he can be on the field for all three downs and he will bring a very solid presence to an NFL defense and provide a big boost in run defense.
2. Haason Reddick, Temple, 65 Tackles, 22.5 TFLs, 10.5 Sacks, 3 PBUs, 3 Hurries, 3 FFs: Haason Reddick has been a long time staple on Temple's defense as a pass rusher. Even though he is undersized, Reddick plays every snap like he's the Tasmanian Devil and just annihilates most blockers in his way. His size may put him at a greater disadvantage in the NFL which is why moving him off ball could maximize his athletic skill set a la Anthony Barr a few years ago. Reddick is a tremendously good athlete and also very physical. He showed in brief flashes and during the All-Star circuit that he is comfortable in his drops, showing a possibly smooth transition to a full time off ball player. Reddick will provide a chess piece on defense that can cover, come against the run, blitz and put his hand on the ground. In a relatively deep class, Reddick stands out not just because of the player he is now, but his immensely high ceiling.
1. Reuben Foster, Alabama, 115 Tackles, 5 TFLs, 2 PBUs, 8 Hurries: Foster would probably be the best player in this class if it were not for some guy named Myles Garrett. Foster was the staple on the Alabama defense and despite being a bit smaller, his size never was a problem for him. Foster is not only a special athlete at the linebacker position, but he plays with incredibly ferocity and high level instincts. His ability to play the run is devastating for offenses and he hits hard enough to send ball carriers into a mid-life crisis. Foster's speed also becomes an asset when he is blitzing and in coverage where he moves effortlessly. Foster is a truly complete defender who could play any linebacker position at a high level in the NFL. Off-ball linebackers rarely go top 10 in the draft, but Foster's talent certainly warrants a high selection.