2020 NFL draft grades: Davion Taylor a terrific athlete for Eagles in third round

2020 NFL draft grades: Davion Taylor a terrific athlete for Eagles in third round

The Eagles took a linebacker, and what, a punter was available?

I kid, but 103 picks into the draft, the Eagles finally made a pick that’s hard to find much fault. Even if you don’t know much about Davion Taylor, a couple things stand out.

The Eagles actually need linebackers, and Taylor is one of the best athletes at his position in this class.

I’m not even down on Nathan Gerry and presumably T.J. Edwards as the presumptive starters. The Eagles would be wise to introduce legitimate competition though, not to mention there’s very little in the way of depth there. Duke Riley currently projects as the unit’s third linebacker in base defense.

Taylor certainly intrigues with sub-4.5 speed – two-tenths of a second off the time Jalen Reagor ran at the combine. The Colorado product ranked among the top 10 linebackers in every workout at the event, and top five in the 40 and broad jump. He’s a tremendous athlete.

After transferring from a junior college, Taylor registered 129 tackles, 18.0 TFLs and 2.0 sacks in two seasons of Pac-12 football.

But it is the third round of the draft, so he’s obviously incomplete in some way.

The big knock on Taylor is inexperience. The reason he attended a junior college is because that’s when he first started playing football. He has a long way to go in terms of improving fundamental aspects of his game such as technique and recognition.

In other words, he’s more an athlete than a professional football player at this stage.

So Taylor likely isn’t competition for Gerry or Edwards at all, or even Riley for that matter, at least not in 2020. Which is fine – this was a compensatory pick, so while technically in Round 3, we’re really in fourth-round territory here.

There were also more NFL-ready prospects on the board though, like Akeem Davis-Gaither from Appalachian State, Troy Dye from Oregon or Justin Strmad from Wake Forest.

The Eagles are obviously projecting Taylor has more promise than that group, and I can see why. But the Eagles seem to be doing an excessive amount of projecting on Day 2 of this draft, rather than targeting talent with a natural path to contributing in the near-term.

Maybe it’s based on a sense these young players won’t have OTAs or even a full training camp to get ingratiated, and thus will be limited anyway.

Whatever the case, Taylor is more a bet on pure physical traits than on college production. At least the Eagles needed a linebacker though, because if you’re arguing for best player available here, why not another quarterback?

Grade: C+

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Eagle Eye podcast: What Jason Peters move means for Andre Dillard, plus much more

Eagle Eye podcast: What Jason Peters move means for Andre Dillard, plus much more

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Barrett Brooks take a long look at the Eagles’ decision to bring back Jason Peters.

They get into what the move means for Andre Dillard, whether Peters will ultimately end up back at left tackle, how long J.P. might be able to extend his career if he stays at guard, how long it will take him to adjust to a new position and and much more. 

They also looked at defensive tackle and defensive end on the All-Time Eagles Team and whether Fletcher Cox or Jerome Brown is the greatest defensive tackle in Eagles history. 

(0:42) — Jason Peters back with the Eagles to play right guard

(27:18) — Jerome vs. Fletcher 

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Eagles fans won't be allowed at games this fall, health officials say

Eagles fans won't be allowed at games this fall, health officials say

Eagles fans should start coming to grips with watching games from their couch in 2020.

After the city of Philadelphia cancelled "large public events" through February 2021 on Tuesday, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, health officials provided an update on the feasability of fans watching Eagles games in person.

Philadelphia Department of Health commissioner Thomas Farley and Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy made it sound all but certain that Lincoln Financial Field stands will be empty.

Per the Inquirer:

"I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they're proposing. I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there," Farley said. "I can't say what the plans are for the league, but from a safety perspective, they can play games but not [have] crowds."

"The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds. The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds," Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.

Abernathy said NFL guidelines also "remind teams that local authorities have the ability to ban fans, so I don't expect any issues."

"We have been in communication with the Eagles. We have told them our expectations are that they don't have fans," Albernathy said.

Whether other teams around the country will be able to host fans, based on differing guidance from state officials, remains to be seen. Earlier this month, reports emerged claiming the NFL is considering fan waivers for those interested in attending home games this season.

A season without home fans also means the Eagles stand to lose a sizable sum of money if the NFL plays its 17-week regular season as scheduled.

As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro noted, the Eagles will be one of the 10 teams most affected (financially) by a lack of fans at home games:

The Eagles in 2018 were tied for eighth in the NFL with $204 million in stadium revenue. Just the Cowboys, Patriots, Giants, Texans, Jets 49ers and Redskins made more.

In late June, the organization informed season ticket holders that their ticket installment payments would not be billed, fueling speculation that games would be played in empty stadiums this fall. 

Barring a drastic change in the pandemic's trajectory between now and early September, it seems that speculation was right.

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