Philadelphia Eagles News

A Linebacker In The First Round?

INDIANAPOLIS -- Yes, Eagles fans know that the team has not selected a linebacker in the first round since Jerry Robinson in 1979. But general manager Howie Roseman is certainly not against the idea of using the 15th overall pick in this year's draft on a linebacker.

"I've never been part of a draft where we said this linebacker is great; we're not going to take him. We're open to very good players at every position. We're not averse to taking any position in the first round if that guy is the best player and we think he's going to come in and make a considerable difference over time," said Roseman.

Just a year ago, the Eagles used their first-round pick - No. 23 overall - on a position that doesn't usually get top-billing with the selection of guard Danny Watkins.

If the Eagles were to use their first-round pick on a linebacker, mock drafts have the Eagles taking Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. Roseman was asked specifically about Kuechly and offered praise, but noted that with underclassmen - like Kuechly - the team doesn't have a complete picture yet.

"Obviously, a very productive player," Roseman said of Kuechly. "(He's) a tough football player."

Roseman's first two draft picks as general manager were used to solidify the defense with defensive end Brandon Graham and safety Nate Allen in 2010. At one point in training camp that year, Roseman was told by another GM that the Eagles had the best first- and second-round picks in the league. Graham and Allen were the first rookie defensive tandem to start on opening day for the Eagles since 1983. Graham had 3.0 sacks in his rookie year until tearing his ACL. Allen was the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month for September until his rookie season was also ended prematurely due to a knee injury.

Graham played in just three games in 2011 and Allen's performance was up and down. Roseman still has confidence in both players and is looking to see how they respond to the challenge.

"They know they have to step up their game and they're looking forward to it," Roseman said. "They want to be great players and we've seen it out of them."

Going into his third draft, Roseman has studied what teams around the league have done and what picks have worked and which ones haven't. From a defensive standpoint, Roseman has a better understanding of Juan Castillo's scheme and which players are required for it. While he wants his top draft picks to be the most successful, Roseman wants to win and however he acquires his players is fine with him.

"We want our draft picks to be our best players. We want to be a homegrown team, but the name of the game is getting talent on our team and that's what we're going to try to do," Roseman said. "If it doesn't work out with (2010 third-round pick Daniel Te'o-Nesheim), but it works out with (former CFL player) Phillip Hunt ... we've got to make sure that position is filled."

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