Heading into this offseason, there was no debate that the linebacker corps in Philadelphia was the worst position group on the team.
Howie Roseman added some fresh faces at the position in Jatavis Brown, Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley. Still, an unproven veteran tagged along with two mid-round picks doesn't necessarily mean the position has turned into a strong suit. However, there is a wildcard at linebacker in 2020, and his name is T.J. Edwards.
Edwards went undrafted in 2019, which surprised many draft analysts. Some thought he could produce immediately in Philadelphia, but he was mainly relegated to a special teams role last season. Though due to an injury to Nigel Bradham, he was still able to get on the defensive side of the ball for 112 snaps. In those snaps, Edwards was able to put together an astonishing 30 combined tackles.
Now the 2nd-year linebacker is entering 2020 with some attention from Pro Football Focus. PFF's lead NFL analyst mentioned Edwards as one of his second-year breakout candidates for the 2020 NFL season.
Here's what Monson had to say about the 23-year-old:
"Arguably the least proven player on the list, T.J. Edwards nevertheless earned an 86.6 overall PFF grade as a rookie, which would rank him among the best linebackers in the game if he played than just 112 total snaps. Why this is interesting, though, is that he had back-to-back seasons with a grade above 90.0 in his final two seasons at Wisconsin before going undrafted due to mediocre measurables and athletic profile. His NFL preseason grade was also consistently good, meaning Edwards has been an exceptionally productive linebacker at every level we have seen. He also excelled in coverage — unusual for a player with athletic limitations. He has a real shot to start for the Eagles this season and could be one of the surprise breakout players in 2020."
The current limitations in place for teams due to the pandemic lockdown might be beneficial for Edwards. The three new linebackers won't be able to show off their talents in front of the entire defensive coaching staff for as long as these limitations on sports are still in place. If the NFL doesn't hold an official training camp or preseason or at least shortens it, it will make it extremely difficult for new players to be trusted by the coaching staff to be on the field early in the season.
So as long as the Eagles don't bring in any more new faces to the linebackers' room (or reunite with Nigel Bradham), T.J. Edwards should see a massive increase in snaps in 2020. And if he continues his 2019 production, then he will be a potential breakout candidate and possibly make a name for himself on this Eagles defense.