As the draft gets closer and closer, my gut tells me more and more the Eagles won’t take a linebacker in the first round. Realistically, the only real possibility I see would be Luke Kuechly, and I just don’t see it happening.
I can definitely see a linebacker being on the radar on the second day of the draft, and one possibility may be Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner. Much like Kuechly, Wagner was considered to be a tackling machine. He’s not a guy that makes a ton of “wow” plays, but he consistently gets around the ball.
Wagner measures in at just over 6-0 and about 240 pounds. He’s not an incredibly big player, but he plays smart and is a sound tackler. One thing I did notice when watching him though is that he does have the tendency to over pursue when going sideline to sideline. This is something I think he’ll need to work on at the next level or he’ll get killed on cutbacks.
The biggest thing most scouts seem to like about Wagner is his versatility, and many think he can play just about any linebacker position at the next level. It’s helpful to have a guy like that who can be plugged into the defense wherever he may be needed.
Another thing I think Wagner will need to improve upon at the next level is his pass coverage. He’s not awful in coverage, but he needs to learn to be more consistent. There are times when he puts himself in great position, but I also noticed that he seemed to get a bit lost on occasion.
In run defense, I think Wagner has good instincts and a quick first step. He doesn’t have elite speed, but he reacts quickly and is able to get to the ball without a problem.
Check out this video of Wagner against Louisiana Tech, via DraftBreakdown.com.
I think Wagner is definitely going to be a day two pick. Where on day two is what I’m not sure about. Some give him a second round grade, but I’m not sold on that. I’d much rather have a guy like Lavonte David in the second round.
As mentioned, Wagner is known as a versatile player and I think the Eagles value that on defense. It’s nice for any player to be able to play multiple positions, but I think the Eagles are really one of the teams who value that highly.
I do want to see the Eagles take a linebacker on day two, and if Wagner is there for them in the third round and they haven’t taken a linebacker yet, I see him as an option. However, I’d rather not see him taken in the second round.