The sixth of eight parts previewing the Eagles’ roster before organized team activities start next Tuesday.
Here is the preview schedule, with links to previous installments:
May 7: Quarterback/specialist
May 8: Running back
May 9: Wide receiver/tight end
Monday: Offensive line
Yesterday: Defensive line
Who’s back: Nigel Bradham has become the one linebacker who is on the field in every configuration. He isn’t perfect, but he is physical, tough and solid, with three Eagles seasons under his belt, and seven in the NFL. Kamu Grugier-Hill has made a lot of progress since joining the team as a special-teams guy in 2016. He started 10 games last season. Paul Worrilow, a 2018 free-agent signee, missed last season with a knee injury but is healthy now. He has started 52 games with Detroit and Atlanta. Nate Gerry, a 2017 fifth-round pick converted from safety, remains a special-teams guy/role player. B.J. Bello got in three games as a special-teamer last season after being released by the Browns.
Who’s new: It kind of went under the radar, but overall, this unit got a pretty good offseason shakeup. The Eagles didn’t draft a linebacker, but they made a strong move in adding former Pro Bowler Zach Brown in free agency. Brown, 29, has started 41 games over the last three seasons with Washington and Buffalo. He is probably the second-best member of the group after Bradham, and ought to provide strong run support. L.J. Fort, also 29, is an experienced backup who spent the last four seasons with the Steelers. Joey Alfieri and T.J. Edwards are undrafted rookies, from Stanford and Wisconsin, respectively, who should push for roster spots. Stanford coach David Shaw thinks Alfieri will be a special-teams standout, with explosive physicality. Edwards was very productive for the Badgers. Alex Singleton spent the past three seasons in the Canadian Football League, where he was defensive player of the year in 2017 and last year helped lead the Calgary Stampeders to the Grey Cup title.
Who’s gone: A couple years ago, it seemed the Eagles’ linebacking corps might be built around Jordan Hicks, but he missed 13 games over the 2017 and 2018 seasons, continuing a pattern that stretched back into Hicks’ college career at Texas, and the Eagles let him become a free agent. Hicks is now an Arizona Cardinal. D.J. Alexander was a special-teamer who has taken his talents to Jacksonville. LaRoy Reynolds, a similar player, is now a San Francisco 49er.