Through four games, the Eagles’ weaknesses at the linebacker position have become more and more pronounced.
If only they had a young early-round draft pick waiting in the wings.
Oh yeah. … They do.
It’s time to see more of 2020 third-round pick Davion Taylor.
“We're excited about DT,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “He keeps improving. He's gotten some snaps in certain games when he's been up. We'll always continue to look at, hey, what are the best guys in certain packages to be successful?
“You know, what we're asking DT to do, it might be different from another guy what we're asking him to do.”
Taylor, 23, has played minimal snaps through the first quarter of the season, but he was also dealing with an injury. Early in training camp, Taylor was actually getting first-team reps before suffering a calf injury that landed him in a boot. He missed the rest of camp and the first week of the season. He played in Week 2 but aggravated the injury and missed Week 3.
But last week, Taylor was a full-go in practice, played nine snaps and came out of the game healthy.
As long as he’s healthy going forward, it’s time to see what the kid can do.
Through four games, the linebackers who have played the most for the Eagles are Alex Singleton (213 snaps, 74%) and Eric Wilson (207 snaps, 72%). After that, Genard Avery has 98, T.J. Edwards 96, Patrick Johnson 48, Taylor 18 and Shaun Bradley 12.
Singleton and Wilson haven’t been playing very well. While they are first and second on the team in tackles with 38 and 34, they also have six missed tackles apiece, according to ProFootballFocus. They are two of just nine players league-wide who have 6+ missed tackles.
And they’re also giving up chunks in coverage. The duo has been targeted 35 times and has given up 30 catches for 272 yards and 4 touchdowns, according to PFF.
Maybe Taylor won’t be better than the linebackers the Eagles have been playing to this point. But if the Eagles have a choice between getting bad linebacker play from Eric Wilson on a one-year deal or from a young linebacker like Taylor, they might as well get Taylor some more snaps and let him learn on the job.
Because in small doses, Taylor has actually done some good things this year. He has just 18 defensive snaps but has five tackles already. If nothing else, Taylor is fast and rallies to the ballcarrier.
He could also become a big-time contributor on special teams, although that hasn’t happened yet either. As he comes back from the injury, Taylor played just seven special teams snaps against the Chiefs but still managed to have a tackle on the Eagles’ first kickoff.
“You saw what he could do,” special teams coordinator Michael Clay said. “He made a tackle inside the 25-yard line. And it's one of those things going into the game plan, we're trying to put the guys in their best possible position right there.”
We all know the deal with Taylor. He’s raw.
After not playing high school football because of his family’s religious beliefs, he showed off his athleticism at Colorado but was still very much an unfinished product when the Eagles used the 103rd overall pick on him last year. But it was the first time they used a Day 2 pick on a linebacker since Jordan Hicks in 2015 and it was the first time Howie Roseman used a Day 2 pick on a linebacker since Mychal Kendricks in 2012.
So the Eagles clearly saw something in Taylor.
Now it’s time to let the rest of us see it too.
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