We’re getting close to Eagles training camp so we’re taking a look at five notable camp competitions.
We took a look at the right guard spot to start the week.
Up today: Linebacker
For years, Eagles fans have wanted their team to invest in the linebacker position and this year, there’s actually some real talent and depth in that position room. But that does make it hard to figure it all out.
While we pretty much know the group of linebackers who will be on the roster in 2022, their roles are not very clearly defined. So the guys in that room will be fighting for playing time this summer. When we talk about linebackers here, we’re just including the off-ball guys, not the SAM position where Haason Reddick will start.
Let’s look at the players:
Experience: Year 4 (44 games, 30 starts)
Size: 6-foot-1, 242 pounds
Early in the 2021 season, Edwards was playing minimally on defense, but once the Eagles benched Eric Wilson and expanded Edwards’ role, the defense was much better. In the second half of the regular season, Edwards played over 95% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps and really changed the complexion of the team on that side of the ball. Edwards added some much-needed physicality on defense and became the primary signal-caller with the green dot on his helmet. The former UDFA from Wisconsin has really carved out a nice career for himself.
So if Edwards played that well in 2021, why isn’t his role solidified in 2022? Well, the Eagles added a couple of really talented linebackers this offseason and they’re expected to push him in training camp and throughout the season. Edwards will still have a significant role on defense, but it’s hard to imagine him playing 95% of their defensive snaps again.
Experience: Year 5 (47 games, 37 starts)
Size: 6-foot-2, 234 pounds
The former fourth-round pick is coming off a career year for the Chargers. In 2021, he had 144 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups and 7 tackles for loss. Despite all that, White had to settle for a one-year, prove-it deal with the Eagles on the open market as a free agent. With the Eagles, he likely projects as a weakside linebacker in Jonathan Gannon’s defense.
White is a converted safety with coverage skills. That makes him an obvious choice to be on the field for passing downs. His skillset is a requirement in the NFL in 2022. If he plays well this year, he should be able to cash in on a bigger contract next offseason.
Size: 5-foot-11, 231 pounds
The Eagles used their third-round pick (No. 83 overall) to draft Dean. That pick is considered by many to be the steal of the draft for a player some thought would go in the first round. Teams were scared off by the medical report but the Eagles are confident Dean will be on the field for them this season; he did participate in OTAs and is expected to participate in training camp.
There’s no questioning how important Dean was for the national champion Georgia Bulldogs last season. And if you watched Georgia last year, then you’re probably pretty excited to see what Dean can do in the NFL. The Eagles aren’t going easy on the rookie, teaching him both off-ball positions. If Dean impresses the Eagles’ coaching staff there’s a chance he could play both the WILL and MIKE positions as a rookie and could potentially even earn the green dot on his helmet.
Experience: Year 3 (21 games, 7 starts)
Size: 6-foot-1, 230 pounds
The former third-round pick has kind of been forgotten but he was getting some first-team snaps at OTAs this spring. When the Eagles drafted Taylor with the 103rd pick in 2020, they knew he wasn’t ready to contribute right away. As a rookie, Taylor played 12 games but only 32 defensive snaps. In 2021, he started 6 games and played 250 defensive snaps before getting hurt and ending his season on IR. He was far from perfect in game action last season but showed some flashes. The problem was that Taylor really needed experience and he was supposed to get it last year before the injury.
In addition to those names, the Eagles still have special teams ace Shaun Bradley, who should return to the team in that role. They also have depth players JaCoby Stevens and Christian Ellis, who will be fighting for roster spots.
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