Projecting the Eagles 2015 First Round Pick: Defense

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Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham (55) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Outside Linebacker

Let’s all take one moment to acknowledge the disappointing progress of 2014 first round pick Marcus Smith II, originally taken 26th overall with the ideal result of being the edge rusher of the future. For now, that’s not happening.

That’s really the only minor blemish on what has been an absolute wrecking crew of an outside linebacker unit this year. Connor Barwin is a few sacks away from the city clamoring to replace the iconic Rocky statue with Barwin’s likeness.

That said, longtime Eagles sack artist Trent Cole is due $10 million next season and is aging quickly (will be 33 next October). While I don’t see Cole being outright released, that could be the result if he doesn’t accept a pay cut.

Brandon Graham, former Philadelphia pariah (not for who he is, but who he wasn’t), has really turned it on and become a key piece to the success of the pass rush. Unfortunately, he’s also a free agent this season. I’m expecting Graham to return as the heir apparent to Trent Cole in 2016 (or sooner, if needed), and I’ll admit that I will be disappointed if he doesn’t.

Still, the reason that OLB is on this list is due to the apparent swing-and-a-miss of Smith II. The Eagles love a good rotation, and if Graham is the future than they’ll still need a fresh body to come in where Smith should have been.

PS: Miami, if you’re reading this, I’m still interested in Dion Jordan for a late round pick. Call me when you get a chance.

2015 Draft Need: 7.5/10

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