UPDATE: NFL insider Chris Mortensen has details on the pick the Eagles gave up to acquire Genard Avery and it’s, uh, higher than expected.
The @Eagles loved Genard Avery in 2018 draft as a developmentant edge rusher who had explosiveness and toughness playing for Memphis. Avery ranked high among rookies with QB pressures. The @Browns have depth and were able to get 4th rd pick in 2021, per sources.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) October 28, 2019
Original story below.
EAGLES RECEIVE: Defensive end Genard Avery
BROWNS RECEIVE: Fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft
Avery, 24, was the Browns’ fifth-round pick (No. 150 overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s logged five starts in 18 career games played, with all of them coming as a rookie. His stats: 40 tackles, 14 quarterback hits, 4.5 sacks, four pass deflections, and one forced fumble.
Despite showing potential in 2018, Avery has been kept as a healthy scratch for most of 2019. He’s only appeared in two games this season. Clearly not the Cleveland coaching staff’s most favorite player.
Now with the Eagles, Avery figures to contribute as pass rusher in the Eagles’ defensive end rotation. Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett aren’t about to losing their starting jobs but Avery’s presence could take playing time away from Vinny Curry and/or Josh Sweat.
Avery is under contract through 2021 and it seems like it took a low cost to acquire him. Always good to add more quality pass rushers to the team. Seems like a solid move, especially if how Browns fans being upset about Cleveland’s front office trading him is any indication.
The Eagles’ roster was full at 53 players prior to acquiring Avery so a corresponding roster move will need to be made. UPDATE: The Eagles officially cut Bruce Hector to make room for Avery.
BENJAMIN SOLAK’S TAKE:
Avery was a fifth-round selection from the Cleveland Browns out of Memphis, where he played mostly off-ball linebacker for the Tigers due to their dearth of athleticism at the position. At 250 pounds, he was miscast in an off-ball role, and the Browns accordingly moved him to outside EDGE rusher under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams — there, Avery shined.
Avery took almost 700 snaps for the Browns in his rookie season — nearly 60% of the defense’s load — and logged 4.5 sacks and 14 QBH on 5 career starts. That put him third on the team, behind DE Myles Garrett and DT Larry Ogunjobi, in terms of pass rush production; his pressure rate was second only to Denver’s Bradley Chubb among rookie rushers.
So what happened to Avery? The defensive coordinator change: out went the wide alignments of Gregg Williams’ 4-man front and in came Steve Wilks, with more nickel and subpackage sets. Avery initially saw the field as a linebacker for Williams, who would often rotate down and rush the passer given his issues in coverage; Wilks didn’t want to put him at linebacker, given the athleticism he needs from those middle of the field players — that’s why 5th-round rookie Mack Wilson has seen snaps off-ball.
But Avery couldn’t break the rotation at defensive end, where Wilks prefers the size and strength that Avery lacks: Myles Garrett and trade-acquisition Olivier Vernon are the starters, while rookie Chad Thomas and vet Chris Smith are the backups. Avery has fallen out of his designated RUSH role and into a LB position he’s never really fit, and accordingly he’s only taken 2 snaps this season, and has been a healthy scratch on gameday.
Weird for a player who was so intriguing as a rookie.
At Memphis, the book coming out on Avery was his hustle, his untapped rush potential, and his long speed. Tight hips limit his change of direction ability, so it’s tough to leave him in coverage — but powerful hands and a good first step help him win when fighting for the EDGE. Philadelphia figures to put Avery back on the outside as a subpackage rusher, where he’s been most successful in the NFL, and avoid deploying him at off-ball linebacker, where he lacks the agility to be successful. At 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds, Avery’s stocky frame is reminiscent of Brandon Graham, and he wins as a rusher in similar ways.
Will Avery break ahead of Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry in the backup rusher role? Neither has had as productive a season as Avery did when he was rushing the passer his rookie year, so if he’s truly a full-time pass-rusher, he’ll likely show it quick. A cheap acquisition that likely only cost the Eagles a Day 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Avery is a savvy if unsexy acquisition given his potential moving forward.
Grade the Eagles trading a 2021 fourth-round pick to the Browns for Genard Avery.
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More reactions to the deal:
On new #Eagles DE/OLB Genard Avery:— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) October 28, 2019
Eagles had been trying to acquire him for a while + other teams were involved in trying to acquire him, source said.
Look for him to be a situational pass rusher for the Eagles.
Posted 40 combined tackles, 4.5 sacks, 4 PDs as a rookie.
Here's Genard Avery knocking Zach Ertz on his ass, bull-rushing Lane Johnson, and popping the ball out of Nick Foles' hands during a 2018 preseason game: pic.twitter.com/w6oiwwUclu— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) October 28, 2019
And some old tweets worth revisiting:
Listen, had Roquan pursued like this we would have seen the clip on the TL 10 times already. Genard Avery (LB #6) did it at 10 - 12+ pounds. pic.twitter.com/hi71Fs912a— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) March 6, 2018
GENARD AVERY GET OUT OF HERE (EDGE, left side of screen) pic.twitter.com/V7AjJ5hURq— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) March 7, 2018