Ranking the Philadelphia Eagles' best linebacker prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft

Here are the Eagles' top interior linebacker prospects in the coming NFL Draft.
Junior Colson, Philadelphia Eagles draft news
Junior Colson, Philadelphia Eagles draft news / G Fiume/GettyImages

Many of you are probably sick of hearing or reading this next line. Heck, we're sick or typing or saying it. You can't talk about the Philadelphia Eagles, linebackers, and the annual NFL Draft without saying it though. The Birds haven't taken a linebacker during the first round of any selection meeting since 1979 when Jerry Robinson was the choice.

No... We ARE NOT counting 2023's selection of Nolan Smith when we say that. He's more of an edge rusher. We're talking downhill-running, bring-the-wood-type linebackers. We mean Seth Joyner and Jeremiah Trotter. No disrespect to Nolan, but we're calling them like we see them. Here's the thing though. That's a mouthful, one that leads to several discussions.

No wonder we get stuck after mentioning a few guys when trying to name some of the best linebackers of our lifetime... Sure, we're excited about Devin White's addition, and we STILL believe in Nakobe Dean. This team has been negligent in building the second level of its defense, and it's been like that for quite some time.

Might this be the year that a linebacker is taken early? We doubt it, but we know there's been some interest in this year's top prospect at the position. More on him in a second, but first, let's discuss a conversation we keep hearing.

While selecting Jeremiah Trotter Jr. is a nice option (and story), the Eagles have better options, but they'd have to explore them earlier.

Every time we hear Jeremiah Trotter Jr's name, we have visions of him being an Eagle. Might nepotism be a part of the Eagles draft strategy? It's a nice story, one akin to Joey Porter Jr. joining the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2023 last April.

'Junior Ax Man' has some ability, but he hasn't been given any early-round grades. If he's available on Day 2 when the Birds are on the clock, he may be worth the 'swing' (pun intended), but some might say taking him in Round 2 is a reach and it's unlikely he'll be around in Round 4.

Trotter stacked 192 tackles in 31 career games at Clemson that spanned from 2021 to 2023. Would we complain about seeing him in Philly? Absolutely not, but in truth, the Birds have better options.

Let's rank Philly's top prospects at linebacker.

It isn't the deepest class of linebackers that we have seen, but there are some ballers in the mix. Here's a list of Philly's top prospects at the position.

Edgerrin Cooper, Texas A&M

The Eagles have hosted former Texas A&M Aggies star Edgerrin Cooper on a pre-draft visit. While that doesn't guarantee his selection. It does express interest. Four of Philly's first five selections made last year were guys they hosted ahead of the selection meeting: (Jalen Carter, Nolan Smith, Tyler Steen, and Kelee Ringo).

Cooper is the best interior linebacker in this draft class (unless you stack the next guy on this list higher). There are theories he could still be on the board when the Eagles are on the clock with the 22nd overall selection.

Payton Wilson, N.C. State

Payton Wilson is good (and fast as lightning). He's a 4.4-second 40 guy, but he's also a little old for a rookie by NFL standards. He'll turn 24 before the draft starts. Don't discredit the resume in spite of that.

He turned in 402 sacks, 15 sacks, and five interceptions and was given another year of eligibility after only seeing the field twice in 2020. He's certainly a first-round talent.

Junior Colson, Michigan

Michigan has to reload quickly after losing a lot from its College Football Playoff National Championship-winning squad. You may have heard something about their coach leaving. They also lost players, one of which being Junior Colson.

This two-time Second-Team All-Big Ten nod (2022, 2023) also won the Lott IMPACT Trophy after last season, an annual award given to a defensive player who demonstrates character and athletic excellence. IMPACT is an acronym for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community, and Tenacity. There's nothing wrong with having that guy in the locker room.

Marist Liufau, Notre Dame

The Irish are sending two exciting interior linebackers to the NFL this April. J.D. Bertrand is the owner of a name you should know, but Marist Liufau is one of the top five prospects at the position.

Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Clemson

Trotter may not be the cream of this class's crop, but he's in our top five though some might rank guys like Bertrand, Tyrice Knight (UTEP), and Jackson Sirmon (California) higher. Trotter also earned First-team All-ACC honors in 2023 after being given the nod as a Second-team All-American in 2022.

Honorable mention: Cedric Gray (North Carolina) and Nathaniel Watson (Mississippi State)

If Cedric Gray and Nathaniel Watson crept onto your lists as top-ten linebacker prospects, we wouldn't blame you. They should.

The former misses a lot of tackles and isn't super athletic, but he racked up 121 tackles, five sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles, and four pass breakups during his final run with the Tar Heels. The latter tacked 137 takedowns, ten sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles, and two pass breakups onto his collegiate resume at Mississippi State.

Both have a future in the NFL waiting on them. Where they'll be taken is a bit of a mystery.

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