In the number 5 spot in the Birds Scoop position rankings we take a look at the Outside Linebackers. Previously we have ranked the QB’s, DB’s, WRs and OL in that order.
At the beginning of the year we were questioning where the pass rush would come from. I’ll tell you where it didn’t come from, Marcus Smith. Smith has to be a factor this year. He was a worthless first round pick. I honestly don’t blame him. It’s not his fault he was taken too early and in a spot where he wasn’t ready to produce. The days of letting first round picks sit and get ready have been long gone. 1st round picks are expected to produce and be a factor from day 1.
The Eagles brought back Brandon Graham which was a surprise to me. I assumed he was long gone. Because of the lack of production from Smith, the Eagles were forced to pay graham. Maybe more than they wanted too. Graham as rotational player last year was really productive. He was constantly in the back field breaking up and making plays. This year the defense will lean on him on 1st – 3rd down after the loss of Trent Cole.
Connor Barwin will continue to be the guts and glue of this defense. Barwin had an outstanding season, one in which he landed himself on NFL Networks Top 100 players list. He also earned a nice little bump in pay to go along with other accolades. Other players looking to make an impact include Travis Long. Long was missed last year a season ending knee injury. Chip was praising Long earlier this year so look for him to be a factor as well if he makes the team.
If Smith can prove the doubters wrong and contribute the Eagles will have an impressive set of pass rushers. This blend of outside speed mixed with our big guys up front makes for one heck of a front seven. To put this in prospective and we mentioned this several times in our podcast (birdsscoop.podbean.com) Smith was on the field for 63 plays. Not tackles. I mean plays.
Due to Smith inability to crack the depth chart and Brandon Graham now being asked to be a full time player this position comes in at the 5th spot. Come back next Monday as we reveal the 4th spot in our rankings.
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