Here is the seventh in a series of looks at the Eagles roster:
On the roster: If there is a defensive scheme change from 4-3 to 3-4, the linebackers will be critical. It starts with DeMeco Ryans, who must prove he can thrive in the 3-4. Ryans is talented, although with a base salary of $6.7 million it’s important he’s consistent in this defense. The other middle linebacker is up for debate. It could be Mychal Kendricks if the Eagles like him better on the inside than the outside. It could be Jamar Chaney or Casey Matthews, who played for Kelly at Oregon.
Brandon Graham will need to be an important pass rusher on the outside. Trent Cole might also play that role. The Eagles would benefit from other players at this spot.
Akeem Jordan is an unrestricted free agent and is unlikely to return. Marcus Dowtin and Ryan Rau are on the roster and will try to impress the new coaches.
Not on the roster: If the Eagles want an inside linebacker, Green Bay’s Brad Jones and Baltimore’s Dannell Ellerbe will both be attractive. At outside linebacker, Baltimore’s Paul Kruger and Houston’s Connor Barwin will be popular free agents.
In the draft, Georgia’s Alec Ogletree and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o have experience in the 3-4. (Te’o would also create a media hoopla if drafted.) Oregon’s Kiko Alonso could be a late-round pick. At outside linebacker, Texas A&M’s Demonte Moore is perhaps the draft’s top pass rusher and will go early in the draft. Georgia’s Jarvis Jones is also a top prospect. If Oregon’s Dion Jordan slips to the Eagles in the second round, he’d be a strong choice with a clear Chip Kelly connection.