Michael Perez/Associated Press
LOLB1 Connor Barwin
LOLB2 Bryan Braman
Barwin was extremely influential in making sure the Eagles’ transition to a 3-4 alignment was not an abject failure in its first season. He’s very strong in run support, his size and athleticism allows the coaching staff to do all sorts of things with him in coverage and he can even rush the passer. Barwin does it all.
Braman, a former teammate of Barwin’s on the Houston Texans, was signed as a free agent mostly for his special teams contributions. If he happens to add anything in a situational pass-rush role, that would be a bonus.
LILB1 Mychal Kendricks
LILB2 Najee Goode
Kendricks really grew as a playmaker in his second season, racking up four sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. You’d still like to see him become a surer tackler or have more success in coverage, but at only 23 years old, Kendricks’ ceiling is still very high.
On top of contributing on special teams, Goode filled in for Kendricks for one game last season and managed not to break anything. There is a ton of competition at inside linebacker, but Goode seems to have the upper hand right now.
RILB1 DeMeco Ryans
RILB2 Jason Phillips
Folks probably forgot the Eagles signed Phillips during last year’s free-agency period. That’s fair—he never saw the field after suffering a torn ACL early in training camp. Phillips is a special teams ace, though, so as long as he’s recovered, he probably has a good shot at cracking the roster.
Ryans is still probably over-cast as a three-down linebacker in a 3-4 scheme at this stage of his career, although he uses veteran savvy to get by. The lack of a real backup plan is a tad troubling as well, but the two-time Pro Bowler still brings a lot to the table.
ROLB1 Trent Cole
ROLB2 Marcus Smith (R)
Note the exclusion of Brandon Graham from this depth chart. The draft came and went, and the 2010 first-round pick is still here, but I believe he gets traded before the final cutdown to a 53-man roster.
As for Cole and Smith, no real surprises here. Cole came on strong at the end of last season, racking up 8.0 sacks over the final eight games of the regular season. Smith is raw—he only had one productive season as a pass-rusher at Louisville—and likely needs time to learn his craft.