The Philadelphia Eagles acquired Australia native Matt Leo via the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program earlier this offseason. In order to learn more about this unique rookie, I reached out to SB Nation’s Iowa State blog: Wide Right & Natty Lite. Cyclones writer Matthias Schwartzkopf was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you recap his college career?
Matt was on on campus for a total of three years. When he came he was only guaranteed two full seasons to play. He was injured within three games during the 2017 season so he took a medical red shirt. During 2018 he played in all 13 games while starting the last five after the starting defensive end went down with an injury. He recorded a couple of sacks and tackles for loss during that time. During 2019 he saw action in all 13 games in a reserve role once again get another sack and 5.5 tackles for loss. He isn’t a high profile type of guy but there are some promising traits about him.
2) What are his strengths?
I’ll start with upside. Matt Leo didn’t touch a football field until he got to Arizona Western Community College in 2015. He is very fresh to the game and with a ton more coaching he may be able to be a surprise and make a splash somewhere in the NFL.
Size. The dude is massive and built. It’s almost like the greek gods carved him and made Matt Leo what he is. 6-7 and 275 pounds is a serious dude that can play the defensive end position with that size.
3) What are his weaknesses?
Inexperience. Leo just hasn’t played enough football yet. Living in Australia and moving to the United States, he just hasn’t had enough coaching and play time to really hone in on his skills. Which is why we may have not seen the full potential off Matt Leo just yet. The inexperience leads into not knowing what type of defensive end Matt Leo really is. Maybe the Eagles will allow ample time to figure it out. While having playing experience is everything in the NFL, this weakness could turn out to be a positive.>
4) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
I am not sure. Time in the the NFL is short but with all the potential for expanded practice squads and need for extra players. There may be some room on the Eagles if Leo can show a glimpse in camp. I really think he could use a year on a practice squad to learn from some NFL coaches and maybe they can turn the prospect Matt Leo into a usable piece in the NFL.>
5) Anything to know about him off the field?
Played rugby in Australia and earned his degree in Liberal Studies.
BLG’s take: Leo won’t count against the Eagles’ 12-player practice squad limit if they maintain his exempt status. The trade-off is that he won’t be eligible to be activated to the main roster in 2020. Methinks the Eagles should keep Leo around as an extra practice body for this season as they determine if he’s worth bringing back on the 90-man roster to compete for a job in 2021. The lack of a full 2020 offseason is obviously working against Leo and so is the fact he’s a 28-year-old rookie. But, hey, he’s not taking up a roster spot, so why not give him a look? It would be a fun to see him defy extremely low expectations.