Deep Dive: A look at how newly-signed LB Kyzir White fits into the Eagles’ defense
The Eagles finally made another splash in free agency this weekend, signing former Chargers linebacker Kyzir White to a one-year, $5M contract.
Following the departure of Alex Singleton, it seemed as though Davion Taylor or an eventual draft pick would slide into a starter role in 2022. Instead, Howie Roseman signs arguably one of the most underrated players in this FA class.
The Eagles seem to have a theme with their two defensive free agency signings, versatility. Haason Reddick is known to move around a bit, and so has White. The 2018 fourth-round selection is a converted safety, having switched over primarily to linebacker in 2020.
This past season, Los Angeles moved White around a bit in the box, switching between a traditional middle linebacker and an off-ball LB.
With the Eagles’ lack of depth, we could likely see him playing at both positions next season.
It’s no secret that Jonathan Gannon runs a lot of different schemes on defense, switching between Nickel looks, 3-4 hybrids, a traditional 4-3 — and even the occasional 5-2.
With how stacked the Eagles’ defensive line is, it’s likely that a 3-4 Hybrid is only best with Reddick on the field. A new defensive scheme the Eagles could implement next season is a 4-3 hybrid.
Instead of having three linemen with a standup edge like a 3-4 hybrid, you’d have four linemen with a standup edge (Reddick), with White and Taylor being your two linebackers. Reddick is a capable coverage defender, so Gannon can throw him into a short zone coverage if necessary.
But this switch allows Reddick to be on the field with both Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat simultaneously, and it’s only possible due to the addition of White.
For the first time in a while, the Eagles have a linebacker capable of covering a player over the middle in both man and zone coverage. Taylor is alright, but it would have been a severe liability with Singleton or Bradley back there.
Statistically, White is a better linebacker than Singleton in literally every category, and it will show in 2022. Following the stop-gap signings over the years like Eric Wilson and Zach Brown, it’s refreshing to see Philadelphia finally emphasize this position.
Kyzir White vs Alex Sinlgeton in 2021 (via PFF)
|Player||Defensive Grade||Coverage Grade||Tackle Grade||Tackles|
The Eagles could bolster their LB core even further in the 2022 Draft, but it seems more likely they’ll turn their eyes to the secondary. Both Steven Nelson and Rodney McLeod remain free agents, while the Eagles have been talking to cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
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