Another one question week for the NFL Draft mailbag (send me more at BGDMailbag@gmail.com) but it is an important one!
“The Eagles under Andy Reid and Doug Pederson have treated the linebacker position as an afterthought. Do you think they should remedy that this draft, and if so, would Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma be a good fit?” - Thomas Holzerman
The Eagles have a not so sneaky need at the linebacker position. Nigel Bradham was released after being an effective starter for a few seasons. With Bradham out, the linebacker corps is down to Nate Gerry, Duke Riley, Kamu Grugier-Hill (impending free agent), TJ Edwards, and Alex Singleton. While I am hopeful for Edwards, the other three are just okay players in a defense that needs linebackers to be very good.
While the Eagles might look to free agency to improve the position, a high draft pick on a linebacker shouldn’t be ruled out. Isaiah Simmons is the premier name in this draft at linebacker and recent mock drafts even have the Eagles taking him. I think when it comes down to it, Isaiah Simmons is going to be highly drafted and probably way out of the Eagles range. So, once Isaiah Simmons is off the board, Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray is basically the consensus LB2 this year.
Murray has good size and athleticism. He can cover, blitz and attack the run from the backside. He is not great as a strong side run defender and tends to struggle working through traffic, but its not something that is unfixable. He is a high upside defender who could boost any defense he joins. The question with Murray for the Eagles will be about value. Is spending a first round pick on a linebacker the best move to make with so many pressing needs at more “scarce” positions? Linebackers aren’t necessarily a dime a dozen, but it’s easier to find a serviceable linebacker than it is to find a serviceable wide receiver or cornerback.
Murray is a good player, but only outstanding circumstances should bring him to Philadelphia. The only linebacker I would pound the table for in the first is Isaiah Simmons and after him, the Eagles are better off looking at mid to late round prospects like Zack Baun, Troy Dye, David Woodward and Shaq Quarterman.
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