The offseason is rolling right along.
We're past the flurry of free agency and the draft, and OTAs start Tuesday. More on that during the week.
For now, let's get to your questions:
@DZangaroCSN What's your take on the linebackers on the roster?
— Erik McDuffie (@ErikMcdufe) May 19, 2017
Well, let's start with the best linebacker on the roster, Jordan Hicks. I think Hicks is probably one of the most under-appreciated players on the team. He had a fantastic 2016 season, and perhaps more importantly, was able to play in all 16 games. He finished the year with 95 tackles and five interceptions. His five picks led the team. The area Hicks needs to improve - and he's admitted it - is against the run. But he actually had a pretty good excuse last year. After tearing his pec, he wasn't able to gain upper-body strength. His plan this offseason was to get bigger, which he thinks will help him improve as a run-stuffer. If he can, he's a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
After Hicks, the linebacker position becomes a little murkier.
The other two starters are Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks. Bradham actually had a really good season in 2016 but is entering the final year of the two-year deal he signed before 2016. While he was good on the field, he wasn't so good off it. He had two separate run-ins with the law, the more serious one being an incident in Miami that resulted in a felony assault charge. Bradham is set to go to court for that incident in July.
Then, there's Kendricks, who is still on the team … for now. Unless the Eagles are able to trade him, Kendricks will continue to be a starter but will come off the field in nickel and dime situations. Not ideal, but he wasn't completely terrible in 2016.
After that, there's not much depth. Najee Goode is a good special teamer and an OK backup. The team really liked 2016 seventh-rounder Joe Walker before he tore his ACL in the preseason. He's been recovering well and is the front-runner to be the team's top backup. And keep an eye on Steven Daniels. He was a seventh-rounder of Washington's last year out of Boston College but never got to play because of injury.
Then, there's Nate Gerry. Don't know what to think of the rookie just yet. He's making the transition from college safety to NFL linebacker.
@DZangaroCSN If I told you that Alshon was going to play 14 games and catch 65 passes with 7 TDs, would you sign up for that right now?
— Drew (@DrewTweetsNow) May 19, 2017
Nope. That wouldn't be good enough.
That would be better production than Jeffery has had in each of his last two seasons (and those would probably be around the right over/under numbers for him), but that's not the production the Eagles want out of him in 2017. They need him to return to his 2013-14 form.
Jordan Matthews has had more productive seasons than 65 receptions and seven touchdowns. Jeffery ought to be able to put up better numbers. If he does, there's another payday in it for him.
Ward doesn't have a real shot to make the Eagles' 53-man roster. Just too many guys ahead of him.
But he is an intriguing prospect. For those who don't know, Ward was a dual-threat-type quarterback for the Houston Cougars, but he's transitioning into a receiver at the next level. He didn't run a great 40 time at his pro day (4.58) but he might have a future as a receiver/returner. The problem for him is that future isn't immediate.
Last year, the Eagles kept David Watford, who was making the same transition, on the practice squad. Having a player like that around makes sense, especially if the team can find a way to use him for their scout team. The practice squad is always a good landing spot for projects like Ward, so he'll have a chance to earn a job there.
@DZangaroCSN Do you think Howie will look to deal players (Kelce, Kendricks,etc) during TC when other teams have injuries like with Bradford last year?
— Kevin Rogers (@KARogers77) May 19, 2017
Sure. The Eagles will be opportunistic if an opportunity presents itself. They really were planning on entering the season with Sam Bradford as the starter in 2016 until Teddy Bridgewater went down in Minnesota.
I'm not sure how much value Kendricks has, but I'd image Kelce would be more in demand. Kelce isn't nearly as bad as some think he is and after a year with an awful O-line draft class, he'll have even more value. The Eagles have stockpiled talent on the interior of their line, so they could get by without him. If he's still on the team, though, Kelce will be the starter.