Looking to upgrade what was one of the NFLs worst linebacking corps last season, the Eagles have naturally been projected to take a linebacker like Boston Colleges Luke Kuechly with their draft pick in the middle of the first round.
Kuechly, prior to boosting his draft stock even further by displaying superior athleticism at the NFL Combine in late-February, had drawn comparisons to former Penn State and Carolina Panthers linebacker Dan Connor. Both carry the reputation of run-stuffing tackle machines who are at times liabilities in coverage and both were clocked in the 4.6 vicinity in the 40-yard dash at their respective Combines.
So in case the Eagles miss out on the potential of Kuechly, it makes sense that they would pursue an available linebacker like Connor with free agency set to begin March 13.
According to a report by the Wilmington News Journal, the Eagles are indeed interested in Connor, with at least two of the papers sources pegging Connor as a player high on the Eagles wish list. Another source called the pairing unlikely, claiming that Connor is not the Birds top choice, but all of the Journals sources confirmed that the Eagles tried to trade for Connor last August.
The Panthers refused to move him because of an injury to dynamic but oft-hurt middle linebacker Jon Beason, which thrust Connor into a starting role in the middle.
Connor made 75 tackles in 15 games for the Panthers last season, forcing a fumble and missing just five tackles in 477 snaps, for a tackle-to-missed tackle ratio of 15-to-1.
As youd expect, Eagles linebackers had significantly lower ratios last season.
Jamar Chaney had 8.4 tackles for every miss. Casey Matthews had 9.3 tackles for every miss and struggled in coverage. Brian Rolle was at 4.2, one of the lowest ratios in the league. Rolle made 54 tackles but led the Eagles with 13 misses.
Adding a steady run stuffer such as Connor who Pro Football Focus ranked as the 20th best run-stuffing inside linebacker in 2011 and the 15th best in 2010 would undoubtedly help a struggling unit.
But Connor hasnt been the most durable linebacker in recent years. He missed 13 games his rookie season with a torn ACL, eight games with a hip injury in 2010 and one last season with a shoulder injury. Connor has missed 22 of 64 games since entering the league in 2008.
E-mail Corey Seidman at firstname.lastname@example.org.