2020 NFL draft: Why analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks Eagles might take Kenneth Murray


The Eagles taking a linebacker in the first round is unthinkable. They haven’t done it in 41 years.

Daniel Jeremiah thinks the unthinkable just might be thinkable.

“I worked there, I know the history and what they traditionally do,” Jeremiah said on a conference call Thursday. “I just know when I look inside that division and I've got to play Ezekiel Elliott twice a year and I've got to play Saquon Barkley twice a year, I'd like to have a guy like Kenneth Murray to match up against those players, and they do not have that player on their roster right now.”

Before he was an NFL Network draft analyst, Jeremiah spent 2010 through 2012 working directly with Howie Roseman as an Eagles’ West Coast scout, and he also spent 2003-06 with the Ravens, overlapping there in 2005 and 2006 with Andy Weidl, who is now the Eagles’ vice president of player personnel, as well as Joe Douglas, who Weidl replaced and is now with the Jets.

It would be silly to think Jeremiah knows what the Eagles are going to do at No. 21 next Thursday. But it would also be silly to think he doesn’t know how Roseman and Weidl think.

“With Howie and now with Andy Weidl being there with Howie, those guys came from the same place I came from in Baltimore,” Jeremiah said. “And we saw what a linebacker can do with Ray Lewis and the impact he can have on a football team.”

There have been 131 linebackers drafted in the first round since 1980, and the Eagles are the only NFL team that hasn’t taken one. 

The last one they drafted was Jerry Robinson in 1979.

The Eagles did take Jordan Hicks in the third round in 2015, but that was a Chip Kelly pick. The only linebacker Roseman has taken in the first three rounds in his nine drafts (2010-2014, 2016-2019) is Mychal Kendricks in the second round in 2012.

He wound up starting for the Super Bowl champions in 2017.

If the Eagles can’t get the receiver they covet at No. 21, you can make a pretty good case for the Eagles to pick either Oklahoma’s Murray or LSU’s Patrick Queen.

Right now, the Eagles have Nate Gerry, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton, Jatevis Brown and T.J. Edwards at linebacker, so the need is obvious.

“When you look at some of the linebackers that we've seen go in the first round over the last several years, they've all been impact players,” Jeremiah said. “We saw it with Devin Bush last year with the Steelers. We saw it with Devin White last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we've seen it with (Leighton) Vander Esch, what he's done with the Cowboys while he's been out there. These guys have all played at a high level and been very impactful.”

Robinson was the 21st pick in 1979, started on the 1980 Super Bowl team and made a Pro Bowl in 1981. He wound up playing 13 years for the Eagles and Raiders.

The Eagles haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl linebacker since Jeremiah Trotter in the third round in 1998.

“Jim Schwartz with what he wants to do and asking those guys to be able to run and cover, I think he's a great pick, and I also think with Murray, you're talking about off-the-charts intangibles with intelligence and just a high, high character individual who's a phenomenal leader,” Jeremiah said. “He started at Oklahoma as a freshman. This kid is made of the right stuff, and I think in a year where you don't have all the information on all these players and there can be more risk involved, I don't know that it gets much safer than him.”

It’s possible but not likely Queen and Murray will both be on the board when the Eagles pick Thursday night.

I know it's probably more likely Murray is going to go ahead of Queen because he's bigger, and I think there's more teams around the league that have Murray over Queen,” Jeremiah said. “I think Queen is a little bit more instinctive, so that's why I have Queen over him. They're both top-20 players for me. I think they're both outstanding. But I think when you look at both those guys being there, I think the size will be coveted a little bit more by a team like the Eagles.

After four decades, it's hard to imagine the Eagles taking a linebacker at No. 21. But maybe this year the unimaginable will become a reality.

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