From now until draft day, we’ll try to hit on every position with our Draft Daily previews. We start with outside linebacker.
If the season started today, the Eagles would once again go with Connor Barwin and Trent Cole at the outside linebacker spots.
Barwin fills a jack-of-all-trades role with his ability to play the run, drop in coverage and rush the passer. Cole transitioned better than expected to the 3-4, and the coaching staff loves his effort/playing personality. The problem? He turns 32 in October.
The Eagles view Brandon Graham as a rotational player, and his contract is up after the season.
There were rumors that the Eagles had interest in Steelers OLB Jason Worilds, but he opted to stay in Pittsburgh. And there have also been reports that the team has shown interest in trading for Miami’s Dion Jordan.
In other words, the organization realizes it could use a boost at this position. Keeping that in mind, here are some potential draft targets at OLB.
Anthony Barr, UCLA (6-5, 255) – From a measurables standpoint, Barr has everything the Eagles are looking for. He made the switch form offense to defense after his sophomore year and had 23 sacks in two seasons. Barr has a couple qualities the Eagles value: athleticism and upside. He’s not great against the run and might be a sub package player in his first season, but eventually, he could turn into something special. Chances are he won’t be there at 22, but if he starts to slip, Barr would make a lot of sense. Full breakdown of Barr here.
Jeremiah Attaochu (6-3, 252) – We caught up with Attaochu back in January at the Senior Bowl. He has experience playing in multiple schemes. As a junior, Attaochu was a 3-4 OLB and had 10 sacks. As a senior, he moved to 4-3 DE and had 12.5. Attaochu is an attractive player because he can stick his hand in the dirt at DE in nickel situations and provide a developmental option at outside linebacker. He’s projected to be a second-round pick.
Marcus Smith, Louisville (6-3, 251) – He lined up in a variety of places for the Cardinals and was a productive player last year with 14.5 sacks. Smith has shown the ability to rush the passer, set the edge and drop in coverage. He has long arms and was recruited as a quarterback. Like Barr, he’s still somewhat new to the position. Projections vary on Smith. Some initially had him lasting until the third round. But given the lack of pass-rushers in this year’s class, it seems like a good bet that he goes in the second. Full breakdown of Smith here.
Will Clarke, West Virginia (6-6, 271) – According to Mike Mayock, his stock has been rising and Clarke is expected to go off the board in the third round. Given his measurables, you might think I’ve misplaced him in the outside linebackers section. But as Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz pointed out, the Eagles had OLBs coach Bill McGovern work Clarke out. Perhaps they believe he’s fit for some kind of hybrid role. The Eagles want length at the outside linebacker spot, so keep Clarke in mind on Day 3.
Trent Murphy, Stanford (6-5, 250) – Murphy is another player we caught up with back in January. He led the nation last year with 15 sacks and was second with 23.5 tackles for loss. The knock on Murphy is that he’s not incredibly athletic, although he tested well in some categories at the combine (three-cone drill, vertical jump, broad jump). There’s a chance Murphy goes off the board on on Day 2, but if he’s there in the fourth round or later, the Eagles could see value.
Adrian Hubbard, Alabama (6-6, 257) – This would be purely an upside pick. Hubbard did not stand out during his college career and notched just 10 sacks in three seasons, but he possesses some unique measurables. The Eagles have ties to the Alabama program, specifically with Ed Marynowitz. The Eagles’ current assistant director of player personnel served as Nick Saban’s director of player personnel from 2008 to 2011. Hubbard could be an upside option in the middle rounds.
Kasim Edebali, Boston College (6-2, 253) – Few teams in the league are more familiar with Edebali than the Eagles. McGovern was Edebali’s defensive coordinator during his college career until 2013. Last season, the Germany native had 9.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles. One issue with Edebali is he’ll be a 25-year-old rookie. Still, he’s a player to keep an eye on in the later rounds.
Ronald Powell, Florida (6-3, 237) – He was the top-rated recruit in the country coming out of high school, but battled injuries during his college career. According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Eagles have shown interest in Powell during the pre-draft process. At 237, he likely projects as a sub package player as a rookie, but there could be some upside with Powell in the later rounds.
Larry Webster, Bloomsburg (6-6, 252) – Some teams are looking at him as a tight end, but Webster was an edge rusher in college. With a basketball background, he has a 36.5-inch vertical and ran a 4.58 at the combine. Gifted with a unique size/speed combo, Webster is likely to intrigue teams on Day 3.