Projecting the Eagles 2015 First Round Pick: Defense

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Oct 26, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Casey Matthews (50) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Eagles 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Inside Linebacker

Getting this out of the way, I personally believe DeMeco Ryans’ career in Philadelphia is over. If not literally, at least as a major contributor. I hope I’m wrong. Mychal Kendricks, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere and is a pretty decent lock for a nice contract extension.

Casey Matthews, who took the role of Philadelphia pariah from Brandon Graham’s willing arms after being forced into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2011, is an impending free agent who should absolutely get a new contract with the Eagles. There’s nothing wrong with being a capable backup, dependable starter in relief, and solid special teamer.

Trying to see where Marcus Smith II fits in, and maybe he’ll need another offseason to truly get his feel for the NFL game. If he can salvage a rough start (Matthews likely has advice on dealing with adversity and expectations), the Eagles may not be in such a rough spot at ILB. The thing is, you can’t bank on a breakout year and potentially miss a great player because of it.

Najee Goode, Emmanuel Acho, and Travis Long factor in at the depth of the position, but if we’re all being honest with ourselves, none of those players are going to preclude the Eagles from taking an ILB if they find themselves in position to in the first round. Long was looking like he had a great chance to make this year’s team until an untimely (are they ever timely?) ACL tear put him on IR.

2015 Draft Need: 8/10

Next: Rounding Out the Jagged Corners