T.J. Edwards is ready for a bigger role with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Philadelphia Eagles must’ve received a pleasant surprise when undrafted free agent T.J. Edwards became a solid contributor towards the end of the 2019 regular season. It isn’t often that undrafted players blossom into starters, but what to expect from the Wisconsin product brought mixed reactions in his first NFL season. Thankfully, he was able to answer the call.
Opposing offenses targeted the “Birds” linebackers and secondary often in 2019, but despite the fact that they allocated resources to upgrade every level of the defense, there are questions about the second level of the defense.
During 2019’s offseason, the Eagles opted against bringing back Nigel Bradham, and they signed Jatavis Brown to a one-year deal. They also used a third-round and fifth-round draft selections on Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley.
Nathan Gerry is one of the holdovers. He’ll likely keep one starting spot. There’s also Duke Riley, whom the Eagles traded for in exchange for safety Johnathan Cyprien in 2019. He’s probably better suited to play special teams though. Edwards, as it stands right now, is the likely candidate to start at the middle linebacker position.
The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t going to just hand the job to T.J. Edwards.
Yes, Edwards currently has the inside track on a starting linebacker spot in 2020, and the film he produced in 2019 should help his case. Appearing on only 112 total snaps, the rookie showed he was a sure tackler and finished the season with 14 tackles. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 86.6 grade for the year, and outside of Gerry, he’s the most experienced player that the Eagles currently have playing at linebacker. Edwards’ biggest threats to start at the “Mike position” (middle linebacker) will come from both Brown and Taylor.
Brown joins this eagles team by way of the Los Angeles Chargers. In 2016, he started seven games for the “Bolts” and registered 79 tackles and three sacks. He finished the 2018 season with career highs in starts (ten) and tackles (97). His production drastically decreased last season, but he does have some ability.
While Edwards lacks elite physical traits but has superb instincts, Taylor brings with him both athleticism and raw potential. The Colorado product may not be ready to play a ton of meaningful minutes for Philly right off the gate, but if the Eagles are patient and bring him along slowly, he can be worked into the rotation as an Edwards understudy and backup.
Edwards went from unheralded prospect to a potential starting linebacker for the Eagles in 2020 because of his hard work. He doesn’t have the athletic prowess as some of the other guys on this Eagles team, but if he continues putting in the work, he should hold on the starting job at least for one more season.