By now, it’s no secret the Eagles place little value in the linebacker position. They cut ties with Nigel Bradham this offseason, leaving the majority of the linebacking duties to fourth year backer Nathan Gerry.
Gerry played quite a bit last season, seeing 61% of the defensive snaps. With this increased playing time, Gerry produced the best year of his young career, totaling 78 combined tackles, two interceptions, 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.
At just 25 years old, there’s still a lot of room for improvement in Gerry’s game. Pro Football Focus had him ranked as 61st overall linebacker in the NFL last year, coming in 70th against the run and 44th in pass coverage. Not great — it’s hard to inspire any confidence with those numbers.
The bottom line is, if Gerry can still be a serviceable linebacker in 2020, the Eagles defense will be just fine. I wouldn’t pencil him in as the three-down starter just yet, either.
T.J. Edwards surprisingly had a very solid PFF grade in 2019, ending the year with a 86.6 overall grade and a 90.3 grade against the run. He did only play 112 snaps on defense, but it’s still enough to warrant some optimism.
Free agent signing Jatavis Brown or rookie Davion Taylor could both see some playing time as well. But, it’ll likely be Gerry’s job to lose heading into camp.
With the handful of safeties the team acquired this offseason, I would expect a ton of nickel and dime sets out of Jim Schwartz’s crew this year, meaning Gerry may be the only linebacker on the field the majority of the time. Gerry’s a converted college safety himself, so he should fit right in.
Gerry’s age and some of his raw ability in pass coverage gives me optimism that he’ll continue to improve. But as far as true breakout candidates go, seeing Gerry completely shatter expectations and become a force at linebacker feels very unlikely in 2020.