The good news is that ESPN ranks the Eagles 9th in its NFL Power Rankings: “The offense is looking pretty good, but is drafting fourth-rounder Jaylen Watkins enough to improve the pass defense? Philly allowed a league-worst 289.8 pass yards per game last year.”
But the bad news is that Vegas has dropped odds on the Birds winning the Super Bowl from 18-1 to 22-1.
And here is what Nick Ferro on LehighValleyLive.com thinks of the team’s linebackers:
Here’s three thoughts about the post-draft state of this group.
1. Marcus Smith needs to be brought along slowly, if the scouting reports on him are accurate. They’re going to want a complete player there, the kind they already have in Connor Barwin (photo above), who can play the run and the pass with equal effectiveness and can get to the passer just as quickly as anyone on the team when asked to do it. Smith, according to the reports, needs to work on coverage and defending runs right at him or around him. Once he gets that down, he’ll be a terror.
2. It’s impossible to quantify how good Barwin was for this team last season, because his sack numbers weren’t very high. He had just five, but only because he wasn’t turned loose on the quarterback in many passing situations. But he did contribute seven batted passes and nine tackles for a loss among his career-high 82 total tackles. Sometimes, he would even line up as a cornerback to thump and disrupt receivers at or near the line of scrimmage.
3. Inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks could be headed to his first Pro Bowl if he becomes a little more consistent. As it was, he was a major disruptive force against opponents almost all the time. According to the team-revised stats (aided by gametape breakdown), he was in on 137 tackles last season, second best on the team (behind fellow inside backer DeMeco Ryans), while leading the NFL with four fumble recoveries. He also had three interceptions, 5.0 sacks and a forced fumble.