In the third round of this year’s draft, the Eagles finally got their hands on a solid linebacker prospect. Davion Taylor has all the physical tools to be an outstanding linebacker in today’s NFL.
His speed is his trademark and it’s what sets him apart from a lot of the linebackers in this year’s class. Pro Football Focus even had him mocked as a first round pick in a handful of their simulations, and they’ve frequently compared him to pro linebackers like Jaylon Smith, Deion Jones and Devin White.
Initially, Taylor will probably be the starting nickel linebacker. Gerry did alright in this role last season, but he played there out of necessity, not because he earned it exactly. Not taking anything away from Gerry because I think he’s a serviceable backer given what Jim Schwartz had to work with last season, but his physical traits don’t come close to what Taylor brings to the field.
Taylor’s speed serves him well in almost every aspect of being a linebacker in Schwartz’s defense. Not only can he track down ball carriers from behind, he’s athletic enough to matchup with backs out of the backfield or even tight ends lined up in the slot.
He did all of that at Colorado, and he also showed the ability to be an effective blitzer when called upon.
Nearly every scout has Taylor as a high-upside player who should develop quickly with pro coaching. The last time the Eagles spent this high of a draft pick on a linebacker was when they selected Jordan Hicks back in 2015. Hicks didn’t workout long-term here, but he showcased the ability to be a Pro Bowl level player throughout his career, injuries have been the only thing getting in the way of that.
Taylor is a better overall prospect than Hicks was coming out of college, and his upside is clearly higher than Hicks’ was.
The Eagles haven’t valued the linebacker position for awhile now. Spending a third round pick on one doesn’t necessarily change that mindset, but it proves how highly they think of Taylor’s talent and potential.
This pick isn’t getting as much buzz as some of the other picks made during the draft, be he certainly has the potential to have the biggest impact in year one of all the rookies coming to town.