It has been a long time since the Philadelphia Eagles selected a linebacker in the 1st round of the NFL draft. 31 years to be exact. The last time it happened was when Dick Vermeil chose LB Jerry Robinson with the 21st pick in the 1979 draft. This week the Eagles had OLB Akeem Ayers in for a visit. What Ayers and Robinson have in common is that they both played for UCLA and are/were 1st round prospects. Robinson was a 6′ 2″ 225 pound player who was fast and aggressive. He went on to become the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and a pro bowl player. Here is a good quote from former fellow player Stan Walters on Robinson:
“Tony Dorsett was running away from Jerry’s side. I saw number 78 (Carl Hairston) and number 55 (Frank LeMaster) pursuing, then this flash of green went by. It was so fast that I couldn’t even see the number. He nailed Dorsett, and then I saw it was number 56. That’s what Jerry will be to me from now on, The Green Flash.”
Ayers, 6′ 2″ 254 lbs, is more known for his power, quick bursts out of his breaks, and “explosion to close”. He has seen his draft stock go on somewhat of a roller coaster ride since the end of the season. He was initially thought to be a sure-fire 1st rounder until he posted a slower than expected 40-time at the combine (4.8). Post-combine his stock started slipping and some draft pundits were thinking he would slide into the 2nd round. However, since he performed better at his pro day his stock is trending upwards again and most likely back into 1st round consideration.
The question is, would Andy Reid and Co. actually draft a linebacker with their 1st round pick? And is Akeem Ayers worth it (for us)? My answers are no and maybe. He has a reputation as a play-maker so I wouldn’t be disappointed if we selected him. He would project as a strong side LB for us which is what he mainly played in college. Combining with Stewart Bradley, that would give us 2 good size players at the LB position. But if the Eagles think he is pure SAM (strong side LB) there is no way they’d spend a 1st round pick on him. Hell, even if the 2nd coming of Lawrence Taylor were available to the Eagles I’m not sure they’d take him in the 1st round. However, should he fall into the 2nd round far enough to where he gets close to the Eagles’ pick, he could certainly be a strong consideration.
Do you think the Eagles should draft him at #23 if he’s available? Cast your vote in the poll!
**And in my ongoing assertion that some of these player visits are “smokescreens”, this was certainly one of them! But I sure wouldn’t mind seeing the Eagles take a stud LB one of these years.