Where will JaCoby Stevens line up for the Eagles in 2021?
Going into last week’s 2021 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles needed significant help at both the linebacker and secondary positions. Although Philly went heavy on offense in the early rounds, they were able to knock out two birds with one stone later on, selecting LSU’s JaCoby Stevens. Stevens is capable of playing both linebacker and safety, having lined up at both positions during his time at LSU.
“At the end of the day, my thing is about coming in and being able to contribute any way possible. So, if they want me to play linebacker or safety, regardless of what position my job now is to contribute to the Philadelphia Eagles defense.” – JaCoby Stevens
Stevens can play anywhere in the back seven on an NFL defense, and he could likely line up in numerous positions in 2021. I see two possibilities for the LSU defender. One of which is the Viper position like Jabrill Peppers at Michigan. Just line him up at almost every position and have him be a wildcard on defense because of his versatility. Michigan would play Peppers at linebacker, safety, and sometimes off the edge as a defensive end among other positions.
If you wanted to take this to an extreme, Stevens did play WR for a short span in 2017 for the Tigers. Who knows? Maybe you could see Stevens play on both sides of the football like Peppers. Highly doubtful but still a fun idea to ponder.
Another option is what Jim Schwartz did with Malcolm Jenkins for several years in Philadelphia. Jenkins would line up in the box for the Eagles and act almost like a fourth linebacker on defense, but his coverages would have him drop back as he would when playing like a traditional safety.
During the 2019 season, LSU had Stevens play linebacker primarily, and he performed very well. Over 15 games, JaCoby had 92 tackles, nine of which were tackles for loss. Alongside that, he had five sacks and three interceptions during their historic season. Following the 2019 run, Stevens was oddly enough projected to the Eagles in the first round in some early mock drafts.
There is a lot to like about the Eagles’ 6th-round draft pick. His speed and athleticism will be massive for his pursuit angles on the inside, and at the same time, Stevens can read his keys well and be huge in coverage for the Eagles. In my opinion, Stevens will likely play primarily in the box in 2021 because of the Eagles’ need at linebacker and current safety depth. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he can grow into that Malcolm Jenkins or Jabrill Peppers role going forward.
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