2017 NFL Draft Positional Breakdown: Linebackers

We continue our positional breakdowns leading up to the 2017 NFL draft with a look at linebackers. We have already looked at quarterbacks, offensive linemen and running backs

Instead of a top 5, we'll highlight players at these positions who fit the Eagles and have a chance to be available when the team picks.

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At No. 14

Reuben Foster, Alabama, 6-0, 229 pounds
This guy is a stud. He's been compared to former Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly. Those comparisons fair. Foster is lightning quick sideline to sideline and brings the wood. He doesn't excel in coverage but he's not a liability either. A disagreement with a hospital worker during the combine could cause him to drop in this range.

Is linebacker a need? Not really. With Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham -- who played well last season -- and Mychal Kendricks (for now) in the fold, the Eagles actually have depth. But Foster is a difference maker from Day 1. Foster could patrol the middle while Hicks moves to the weak side. That could free up Hicks to be even more disruptive playmaker.

Haason Reddick, Temple, 6-1, 237 pounds
Now this would be fun. Reddick was one of the most disruptive players in the country, racking up 22 1/2 tackles for a loss. He's an interesting hybrid. He played as an edge at Temple but his instincts and ability to diagnose plays are reminiscent of an inside 'backer.

He's not a perfect fit for the Eagles, but that's not to say he isn't a fit at all. Reddick could line up at an outside linebacker position on early downs and then line up on the edge on passing downs. That versatility could be invaluable. There is concern about his size and whether he'd be able to get by NFL tackles consistently. If he's in a rotation as a pass rusher, he could avoid some of the typical wear and tear.

In the middle

Anthony Walker Jr., Northwestern, 6-1, 238 pounds
Walker was a monster during his sophomore season, posting 120 tackles, including 19 for a loss and four sacks. His production dropped during his junior season when Walker put on too much muscle. You can see in his film how much more fluid he looked during his sophomore season.

Walker would be really intriguing if he's there in the fourth round. He's another player that could patrol the middle, allowing Hicks to roam and make plays all over the field. He will likely need to drop the weight he tacked on, but if the player from 2015 reemerges, Walker could be a steal.

Dylan Cole, Missouri State, 6-0, 233 pounds
Many felt Cole was a combine snub. On his pro day, he put up numbers that would've been better than most of, if not all, of the linebackers in Indy. His athleticism allows him to be disruptive and decent in coverage. The lack of competition will hurt Cole, but he was a tackling machine (294 tackles last two seasons combined).

Cole will go in the fifth round at the earliest. If he learns how to use his athletic ability in Jim Schwartz's defense, he could make an impact. At worst, he could be a cheap special teams ace.

Late-round sleeper

Hardy Nickerson Jr., Illinois, 6-0, 232
Nickerson has pedigree and he plays his butt off. He's undersized and doesn't have the instincts of his old man, but makes up for it with maximum effort and sure tackling. As a seventh rounder, he could carve out a solid career as a special teamer and depth linebacker.

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