Just when it looked like Stewart Bradley was ready to have a monster season in 2009, he suffered an unfortunate ACL injury that ended his season in the annual Eagles Flight Night event.
The Eagles really missed him while he was out in 2009, as the team tried filling his spot with multiple players, none of which were able to step up and fill the spot.
In 2010, Bradley made his return to the middle linebacker position and it looked as though the Eagles would finally find some consistency at the position. However, Bradley suffered a nasty concussion in the teams opening game which caused him to sit out the following week.
Bradley returned to the lineup Week 3, and we saw a variety of different play from the man in the middle. At times, Bradley looked very solid as he helped the Eagles shutdown some very talented running backs. Despite his success, Bradley was not consistently dominant. His play varied from week to week.
In a Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys, Bradley suffered an elbow injury, which again cut his season short.
Rookie Jamar Chaney stepped into Bradley’s spot and showed a lot of potential. As we look forward to 2011, it’s unknown whether the Eagles will look to keep Bradley in the middle or move him to the outside.
Something else we’re unsure of is the Eagles confidence in Bradley staying healthy for a full season. After shining in 2008 and looking like a player who could make an impact for the Eagles for a long time, Bradley has not been able to stay healthy.
It’s hard to blame the guy for the injury’s he’s sustained, but his rash of injuries could make the Eagles weary moving forward. Keeping that in mind, you have to wonder if the Eagles will look to pickup a linebacker who can make an impact early in the draft.
The Eagles haven’t had a linebacker who can be a real force on defense in many years. However, history shows that the Eagles don’t like to draft linebackers early.
I’m certain that the Eagles will take at least one linebacker in the draft, but my gut tells me they will wait until the middle rounds to take one.
I’d love to see them take a player who opposing teams are afraid of. If you look at some of the top defenses around the NFL, they all have impact players at linebacker who are very intimidating (Clay Matthews, Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, etc).
These type of players don’t come along every day, but I’d love to see the Eagles find a guy who can make plays all over the field. If the Eagles would decide to look for a linebacker early, they could look after a player like Akeem Ayers.
He made plays all over the field while at UCLA and should be around when the Eagles pick 23rd. He may even fall into the second round, and the Eagles could possibly make a play for him if he does. Ayers already visited with the Eagles so the team should have a good idea whether he’s a player they like or not.
Regardless, the Eagles need to find a linebacker who can be a dominating physical force for them. With question marks surrounding Bradley’s ability to stay healthy, I think it makes it even more important.
What are your thoughts on Bradley and the Eagles linebacker situation for 2011?