Eagles: 3 linebackers to target on Day 2 of the NFL Draft

The NFL Draft is just a week away. Can you believe it?

On Wednesday, the Eagles held their final press conference before next Thursday’s draft. When asked specifically about the linebacker position, Howie Roseman stated that this draft class has some solid linebacker talent, though he didn’t indicate that he was actually considering one in the first-round.

There are only two backers worthy of first-round selections this year, Utah’s Devin Lloyd and Georgia’s Nakobe Dean. In our recent Mock Draft Special podcast, Lloyd didn’t end up getting drafted until the second to last pick of the first-round. It’s not an indictment on Lloyd as a prospect, but it speaks to how undervalued the linebacker position now.

With that being said, there are several backers who should be on the Eagles radar during day two of the NFL Draft. With the additions of Kyzir White and Hasson Reddick, the need to add a backer isn’t as evident as it once was, but adding another capable body to the fray wouldn’t hurt.

Here are three linebackers the Eagles should consider when day two of the draft rolls around.

Leo Chenal, Wisconsin

15-20 years ago, Leo Chenal would’ve be a first-round pick. He has that old school linebacker archetype that used to be coveted around the league. Even now, his blend of run stuffing ability and pass rushing acumen makes him one of the more exciting linebacker prospects in this year’s draft class.

Chenal is at his best when attacking downhill. In 2021, he posted an astounding Pro Football Focus run-defense grade of 94.1, just a hair behind the PFF run-defense record for a single season held by Micah Parsons (94.8 run-defense grade). He packs a punch everytime he finds the runner. Whether it’s a running back trying to find space along the line or a quarterback scrambling outside of the pocket, Chenal looks like a heat seeking missile.

He can still use some work in his coverage ability. Last season, Chenal was targeted 22 times in coverage and allowed 20 of them to be completed. His 56.7 PFF coverage grade was by far his worst marks in any category last year.

Nevertheless, the Eagles won’t be forced to play Chenal in passing situations. That’s what they have White for. Placing a guy like Chenal alongside T.J. Edwards on first and second down would give the Eagles a great one-two punch against the run.

Troy Andersen, Montana State

Of all the linebackers in this year’s class, Montana State’s Troy Andersen may have the highest ceiling. He’s as raw as they come, converting from running back and quarterback to linebacker in his final collegiate season.

Andersen’s explosiveness is evident whenever you toss on the tape. He can play sideline to sideline with relative ease and he’s a pretty polished tackler, which is a bit surprising considering he used to play quarterback. He closes the gap between him and the ball carrier in a blink; there are no wasted steps in his pursuit of the football.

In coverage, Andersen’s movement skills shine. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 243 pounds, he moves around like a box safety. His 4.42 40 time was in the 98th percentile among all linebackers this year. Andersen’s explosiveness was further evidenced by his 1.51s 10-yard split and 128-inch broad jump, which placed in the 97th and 94th percentile among linebackers respectively.

Though his athleticism is on full display everytime you watch him, it’s also clear that he’s new to the position. His linebacker instincts aren’t quite there yet and there are times he seems a bit lost. Luckily, those things can easily be coached up at the next level.

The Eagles don’t need someone who can come in from day one and play every snap at linebacker. Andersen is a lottery ticket at linebacker and whichever team selects him this year may be able to cash in big down the line.

Hell, this guy could probably be the Eagles backup quarterback. Just watch the tape:

Chad Muma, Wyoming

Wyoming’s Chad Muma was one of the most productive linebackers in the country last season, recording a ridiculous 142 combined tackles while racking up three interceptions, 1.5 sacks, and eight tackles for loss.

On tape, Muma looks like a complete backer. Standing at 6-foot-3, 239 pounds, he has an NFL frame. He glides across the field and is a pure playmaker from the linebacker position. In coverage, Muma does a nice job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and breaking on the football. His football instincts are top tier as well; rarely will you find Muma out of position and not near the ball.

Muma is a sure tackler, posting a career 8.1 missed tackle percentage and a solid 68 defensive stops in 2021. He also showcased some of his pass rushing ability on blitzes, generating 21 total pressures last year.

The only major concern with Muma is the level of competition he faced at Wyoming. He didn’t see a single Power 5 team in 2021. Nevertheless, the tape speaks for itself. Although it may take some time for Muma to adjust to the speed of the NFL game, he’ll be a starter within his first two years in the league.

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