While a defensive tackle could be the team’s first-round draft pick as projected by various networks, the Eagles are likely to explore a trade up for linebacker Luke Kuechly, a league source told Bleed Green. Philadelphia addressed its hole within the LB corps by swinging a deal for the Texans’ DeMeco Ryans shortly after the start of free agency, but with the team having few evident needs elsewhere, another linebacker could be on the radar. The Eagles have been tied to a number of potential trade-up scenarios, and according to the source, Kuechly is expected to draw some interest from the team on Thursday.
Despite acknowledging the Eagles’ reported interest in LSU lineman Michael Brockers, the source indicated the most likely scenario involves the team trading out of the 15th overall pick. “You know they need linebackers,” the source told Bleed Green, suggesting the addition of Ryans won’t be the only move the Eagles make to shore up a defensive weakness. “They’ve got to jump over Kansas City to get Kuechly,” a well-regarded product of Boston College whom the source believes is still atop the Eagles’ first-round wish list. “They’ll jump over Kansas City and go to the eighth pick, Miami’s, if Ryan Tannehill is gone.” On a scale of one to 10, “eight” describes the likelihood of such a move.
For what it’s worth, two other sources, both of which requested anonymity as the pre-draft process continues; admitted a move up for Kuechly is possible, but downplayed the belief a trade is the most likely option. Citing the typical spread of false information among teams, players, and agents, they proposed the Chiefs are among several organizations drafting in the top 15 that may have been showing illegitimate interest in prospects like Kuechly in order to progress possible trade talks. “K.C. is probably saying they’ll take Kuechly to get teams to trade up. Maybe they do,” one source said.
With Ryans in the mix as the team’s new starting middle linebacker, it’s arguable the Eagles no longer have an obligation to target a player at that position in the first round of the draft. However, Kuechly has been hyped as a surefire all-star and, as the consensus No. 1 ‘backer of his class, he could warrant consideration from Philadelphia as a long-term option. Once the popular prediction for the Eagles’ pick in national mock drafts, he has been the subject of questions regarding his slightly small size, but heralded for impressive production as a MLB for Boston College. Noted for his instincts and tackling skills, Kuechly might have value as a potential outside linebacker and eventual successor of Ryans in the Eagles’ system, or at least more so than, say, Brockers at the defensive tackle position up front.