Once Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was awarded full control of all personnel decisions, he wasted no time making some controversial moves. Kelly shocked the world when he traded superstar running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for inside linebacker Kiko Alonso.
The move was certainly confusing at first, why in the world would Kelly trade arguably the team’s best player for a young linebacker that is coming off a major knee injury? It just didn’t make sense. But once a bit more of the offseason played out, it became clear that Kelly was trying to strengthen the Eagles’ inside linebacker group.
Kelly chose to extend DeMeco Ryans‘ contract, when many thought the team would cut him. Mychal Kendricks was kept on the roster after being included in multiple trade rumors. Then Kelly even spent a third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks, another injury prone player. Yet it was all part of Kelly’s plan to turn the inside linebacker position into a strength after it being a weakness for many seasons.
The days of Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney starting for the Eagles are over, this is a completely revamped group full of versatile pieces that can be used in a variety of ways. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis loves to use different blitz packages and coverages to confuse the offense and having “chess pieces”at inside linebacker such as Kendricks and Alonso will only help take the Eagles defense to the next level.
In fact, the Eagles are so deep at inside linebacker that Matt Miller of Bleacher Report included three players from their 2014 team in his top 60 positional rankings. Emmanuel Acho, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks all made Miller’s list, but what’s even more surprising is that since it’s only rankings for this past season, Alonso and Hicks couldn’t even be included. Casey Matthews also made the list but he’s since signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
Here’s a snippet of what Miller had to say about each of the Eagles inside linebackers that made his list:
"33. Emmanuel AchoWhen it comes to depth at inside linebacker, no one compares to the Eagles. Mychal Kendricks, Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans and former Longhorn Jordan Hicks will all look to get playing time and compete with Acho. Acho played well when given the chance, but he might not have as many snaps in the crowded Eagles defense.26. DeMeco RyansEven if Ryans is able to fully recover from his injury, he will be facing some great competition in 2015. Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks are top-notch inside linebackers, and Jordan Hicks looked great on the inside at the Senior Bowl. Needless to say, the Eagles have great depth at inside linebacker.9. Mychal KendricksThe No. 49-ranked inside linebacker for 2013, Kendricks’ jump to the top 10 is one of the best storylines of the 2014 NFL 1000 series."
Miller mentions the Eagles newly added depth at inside linebacker and even stated that no team compares to Philadelphia when it comes to their depth at the position. It remains to be seen how exactly Davis will use all of his shiny new toys at inside linebacker, but the talent is certainly there. Davis has been questioned in the past because of how he used certain players, hopefully he knows what to do with such unique talents such as Alonso and Kendricks.
The possibilities are endless for the Eagles inside linebacker group in 2015. It’s just a matter of them all staying healthy and available, if they can do so, the sky is the limit.
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