In Friday’s Daily News, an NFL scout will break down the Eagles position-by-position. Here’s what he had to say about the team’s linebackers:
“Outside of Connor Barwin, they don’t have one outside ‘backer that can play the position. (Trent) Cole didn’t play well last year, and you wonder the same thing about him as you do about (tight end Brent) Celek. Is he a declining player?
“And the whole switch from a hand-on-the-ground guy to a linebacker, I know there are a lot of rush linebackers who don’t drop into coverage much. But let’s see how teams game-plan him and how they get him into space and how good he is out there. If they’re going to put him in space by formation, then what do you do and how does he handle it?
“(Brandon) Graham is a guy who can come off the edge and collapse the pocket. But in the preseason, I didn’t see him do anything that a true outside linebacker (has to do), where you have to walk out and cover the slot. You’ve got to do that sometimes. If he’s out there, I think he’s a real liability.’’
“(Mychal) Kendricks is going to be a very good player in this league. He’s their best blitzer, and he’s good at it. If you want to send a fifth player (after the quarterback), he’s a good guy to do it. The problem is, he’s also their best cover guy. So you also need him on the (running) back. You want him on screens. You want him covering the tight ends down the seam.
“The problem is you can’t do a lot of those things with (DeMeco) Ryans. Because he’s not a good blitzer and he’s not a good cover guy. He has intelligence. He’s a fiery guy. He does play the game passionately. But he’s not really a playmaker. He didn’t knock the ball loose one time last year. He had one interception and didn’t get his hands on another ball. He’s not a guy who has great range. But there’s nobody else there right now ready to take his place.
“I like (Jake) Knott. He was a good pickup for them after the draft. Not the fastest guy in the world, but makes up for his lack of real burst with good eyes and understanding his position and being an intelligent guy.’’
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