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LB Paul Worrilow Makes Sense For Eagles

Posted Apr 3, 2018

That Paul Worrilow is coming “home,” to play for the Philadelphia Eagles (he is a Wilmington, DE native and played collegiately at the University of Delaware) isn’t why he and the Eagles agreed to terms on a one-year deal on Tuesday ...

That Paul Worrilow is coming “home,” to play for the Philadelphia Eagles (he is a Wilmington, Delaware native and played collegiately at the University of Delaware) isn’t why he and the Eagles agreed to terms on a one-year deal on Tuesday.

Worrilow is here because he fits what the Eagles were looking for a linebacker group that could look a whole lot different in 2018. Worrilow joins free-agent signee Corey Nelson on one-year contracts and the expectation is that they both will challenge for significant playing time both in the defense and on special teams. Worrilow is a six-year veteran, having played four seasons mostly as a starter in Atlanta and then last season in Detroit, where he started eight games. He’s a worker, a muck-and-grinder, a player who is best against the run and is a sure tackler and that is fine with the Eagles.

Having Worrilow here gives the Eagles more depth and more veteran experience and more options. They are counting on having Jordan Hicks back at middle linebacker for 2018, and there is no questioning what kind of player Hicks is and what he brings to the defense. But Hicks is also coming off a torn Achilles tendon, an injury that limited him to seven games in 2017. Hicks also missed half of his rookie season in 2015 with a torn pectoral muscle, so having two of his three NFL seasons cut short by injury sends up warning signs: While the Eagles love Hicks and know how much he means to the defense, they have to be prepared should he go down again.

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Enter Warrilow, a tackling machine in Atlanta who has come up the hard way in the game – a high school star in Wilmington who attracted no Division I offers, then went to junior college in Kansas for a single redshirt season before finding a home at the University of Delaware. He became an all-time great player there, and promptly was not drafted.

But Warrilow made it in Atlanta, signing with the Falcons after the 2013 draft. He played four seasons with Atlanta, losing a starter job to Deion Jones. Worrilow signed in 2017 with Detroit, and had an up-and-down season in that defense. He can play across the board at linebacker but is probably best suited as a SAM or a middle linebacker. He’s a ham-and-egger and he’s not going to dazzle anyone with his speed or his size. He’s just going to find the football and tackle the ballcarrier.

So what do the Eagles have at linebacker? They’ve got Nigel Bradham on the strong side, and that is indisputable. He was the key “keep” in free agency after playing some outstanding football in 2017. They’ve got Hicks, one of the best takeaway linebackers in the league when he’s on the field. Hicks is working on his rehabilitation, he’s at the NovaCare Complex every day and he looks great. Keep your fingers crossed. Mychael Kendricks started last year on the weak side and did a good job after some seasons where his playing time was minimized.

The Eagles have added Nelson and Worrilow to the mix. They’ve got Kamu Grugier-Hill, one of their core special teams players, here. They have a couple of young players, Nathan Gerry and Joe Walker, who are going to have to ramp up in the offseason to gain traction in this rotation. Gerry helped on special teams last year and Walker helped in the defense. Both will be asked to step it up for 2018.

Then there’s the draft, and it’s possible the Eagles could invest in linebacker among their six picks (at the moment).

Adding Worrilow, a starter in this league, is one of those moves that might not look like a whole lot right now, but one that could really pan out as 2018 unfolds. He’s not going to make mistakes on the field. He’s not going to be out of position. He’s going to be fine learning a new defense. And Worrilow is going to give the Eagles depth behind Bradham and Hicks, and he’s going to add competition across the board and on special teams.

The story is a nice one, and the fine people of Delaware are thrilled that one of their own is now an Eagle (joining Wendell Smallwood). All of that makes for a nice video feature. On the football field, though, Worrilow fits a role and that is to make a changing linebacker corps more talented, more competitive, and even more versatile.

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