NFL Draft 2011: 5 Linebackers Philadelphia Eagles Should Target

Jason KarlAnalyst IIIMarch 5, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: 5 Linebackers Philadelphia Eagles Should Target

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    In the new defensive system the Philadelphia Eagles will run, athletic linebackers will be needed.

    Jamar Chaney is a lock to start next season at either middle or weakside linebacker, but after him, there will be much-needed depth.

    Stewart Bradley was tendered, but with the likelihood of the new CBA, he could still be a free agent.

    Though I think he will be brought back, the Eagles will have to decide if they will switch him to the strongside or remain in the middle.

    Assuming Bradley stays, and Chaney remains a starter, the Eagles would still have a huge hole at either the strongside or weakside, depending on where Bradley plays.

    Here are five linebackers the Eagles could target:

Mason Foster

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    Talk about college production: Foster recorded 162 tackles (105 solo) and 7 sacks last season at the University of Washington.

    The 6'2'', 241-pound Foster is aggressive and is one of the best tackling linebacker in this draft class. He ended his career at Washington with eight forced fumbles, including six his junior season.

    He is a sound tackler who can read and react react to the play in front of him. He is fast and plays around the ball.

    Foster is very good in coverage when defending running backs or tight ends.

    Mason Foster is a versatile linebacker as well and could play all three linebacking spots, though I think he would excel on the weakside.

    Draft Projection: Second round

Quan Sturdivant

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    Quan Sturdivant played inside linebacker at the University of North Carolina, but has enough speed to play on the weakside.

    The 6'1'', 240-pound Sturdivant ran an impressive 4.60 in the 40-yard dash.

    Sturdivant recorded 62 tackles and 3 sacks, while only playing in seven games.

    Sturdivant will never be a Pro Bowler, but he provides consistency in his tackling and coverage. He will not kill you by making mistakes—think Keith Rivers with him.

    Draft Projection: Second to Third Round

Martez Wilson

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    Martez Wilson performed well in the combine where he ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at 6'4'', 250 pounds.

    Wilson was highly productive in 2010 with 112 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 1 interception.

    He is a linebacker that uses his speed as a huge advantage on the outside and though he played inside linebacker at Illinois, he has the quickness and strength to play on the strongside.

    He sometimes over pursues, but with coaching, Wilson could be a poor man's Patrick Willis.

    Draft Projection: Second round

Bruce Carter

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    The 6'2'', 240 pound weakside linebacker always seems to be around the ball and is capable of making the big hit.

    Carter has great football instincts and has the size and speed (he ran a 4.6 in the combine).

    He recently had ACL reconstructive surgery on his left knee in December, but the Eagles are not scared off on signing or drafting injury prone players.

    Draft Projection: Second to Third Round

Akeem Ayers

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    Akeem Ayers would fit the bill as a playmaking linebacker.

    Ayers is the best 4-3 linebacker prospect in the draft, and could be a significant upgrade over any player the Eagles put at strongside linebacker.

    At 6'3", 254 pounds, Ayers can cover and is a solid enough run defender.

    Though he ran an unimpressive 4.80 in the combine, Ayers plays much faster than his time.

    For a strongside linebacker, Ayers can also bring pass-rushing skills.

    Draft Projection: 1st Round