If Penn State is Linebacker U., then the Eagles are “Linebacker? No Thank You” — at least not early on draft day.
In the past five years, the Eagles have selected just one linebacker in the first four rounds. One. The most productive — when he’s actually been on the football field — has been 2007 third-round pick Stewart Bradley.
Perhaps the best linebacker the Eagles have seen in the past 14 seasons was Jeremiah Trotter (12.5 career sacks), but he was taken in 1998 — the year before Andy Reid arrived. And they haven’t taken a linebacker in the first round since 1970.
Are the Eagles anti-linebacker? Not necessarily. That’s just how the chips have fallen in recent drafts, according to GM Howie Roseman.
“We try not to be influenced by position,” Roseman said. “That’s how we set up our draft board, and that’s always been the process when I’ve been here, when we go into the draft. And that will be continue to be the process.”
Bottom line, don’t expect the Eagles to take a linebacker tonight. Now, a draft-day trade? That’s always a strong possibility, especially this year.
“I think that because of the way the draft is structured and in terms of looking at the draft as the first action of the offseason, I think you’ll see some of that eagerness to go and get the players you’re looking for, and we’re looking forward to that,” Roseman said.
On the clock
The top candidates to be selected by the Eagles with the 23rd overall pick:
1 Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: Best position is left tackle, but can play anywhere on O-line. Has called himself “the best tackle out there.”
2 Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue: Excellent pass-rusher who ran one of the fastest 40-times (4.67) at combine.
3 Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: Shutdown corner (one TD his senior year). But red flags over arrests/attitude.
4 Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida: Best interior lineman in draft. Plus, Birds might need extra insurance at center.
5 Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi St.: Opposing at 6-foot-5, 321 lbs.