The Eagles made a huge upgrade to the middle linebacker position when they traded for DeMeco Ryans. However, they can still use some help on the outside and will more than likely look to the draft to do so. A solid option to do this would be Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David.
At 6-1 and 233 pounds, one of the biggest knocks against David is his size. However, based on looking at his film, I think his size has been over emphasized. He can get pushed around at times, but he is an extremely talented player.
The thing that jumped out to me about David is his quickness. He doesn’t have elite speed, posting a 4.65 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, but he plays very fast on the field. David gets from sideline to sideline with ease. I often see a lot of players who have that type of ability end up being over aggressive and subject to being being on the cutback. This isn’t the case for David. He is able to close space between him and the ball carrier very quickly and always comes in under control.
At Nebraska, David was a tackling machine and that’s something the Eagles really need help with at the linebacker position. As I mentioned, he can get engulfed by bigger lineman at times, but he also has the ability to use his quickness and get around blockers to make plays on the ball.
From what I’ve seen, David also seems to play the pass pretty well. His coaching staff was comfortable in letting him cover running backs one on one, even when they lined up split to the outside at the line of scrimmage.
Despite being smaller, he has shown that he’s not afraid to press on tight ends when he needs to and can use his quickness to recover if he starts to get beat.
David is one of those types of players that you just see all over the field throughout the course of the game. He is a smart player that has good instincts and is able to read where the play is going quickly after the ball is snapped.
Check out this video of David against Iowa this season, via DraftBreakdown.com.
David has been given a second to third round projection, but I fully expect him to go at some point in the second round and not fall to the third. With two picks in the second round, the Eagles should have David on their radar as a guy that can fit into their system on the weakside.
David has received a lot of praise about his football smartness and has even told scouts it’s his biggest strength. I don’t think he’ll have trouble coming into any NFL system, picking up the playbook, and being ready to start from day one.
With many expecting the Eagles to pass on drafting a linebacker in the first round, I think David is a great target for them in the second. If he’s on the board when the Eagles come up with the 46th or 51st overall pick, I think he has enough value to justify the selection.