Eagles All-22 Film Review: Nicholas Morrow is a fun player

After losing starting quarterbacks TJ Edwards and Kyzir White, I was anxious to see who the Eagles brought in. Nicholas Morrow has had an interesting career path up to this point and I enjoyed seeing him for this piece. He is quite a fun player! He is number 53 in all clips below.

The first number that stood out to me is the snaps played last year. Availability is a talent in itself and at a linebacker position it is important to have someone durable who can stay on the field at all times to help lead the defense. The rest of the numbers aren't great overall, which probably tells the story of why the Bears moved on from Morrow.

+ Played both MIKE and WILL last year. Played 99% of the snaps showing he was trusted on all downs and was always available.

+ You can immediately tell that he is fast. His previous safety background is evident in his acceleration and movement ability. He can cover ground quickly and can get to short/screen passes quickly.

+ He was much better at taking on blocks than I expected him to be given his size. He can get off the blocks and play in the backfield.

+ I know the data says otherwise, but I thought he was a pretty sure tackler in the games I saw. I have some thoughts about this later.

+ He looks like a pretty strong guy. He's undersized but you'll see offensive players (including Jalen Hurts!) bounce off him and not gain any extra yards by falling forward.

+ He has the quickness and ability to change direction to avoid offensive linemen and still get to the back.

+ He was trusted to carry receivers/tight ends down the seam (often in the Tampa 2) and he looks athletic enough to do this comfortably.

+ He was fantastic against the Eagles last year, which was an elite offense with an elite running game. He was a major reason the Eagles averaged under 4 yards per carry.

– Chicago chose to prioritize other free agents (including TJ Edwards) over Morrow at linebacker which shows they have concerns and believe he needed to be replaced.

– I didn't see the obvious problem with missed tackles that the PFF data shows. But he has a problem with taking bad angles and not making good contact on players, which apparently still counts as a missed tackle.

– He can be quite aggressive in zone coverage which allows him to be moved by a quarterback's eyes. I noticed this a few times on film and teams seemed to run a lot of Hi-Lo concepts to target him.

– Showed a lack of awareness when in zone coverage for receivers behind or around him at times.

– His size shows at times, especially in the open field. He has plays where he gets touched like a defensive back, not like a linebacker, and ends up on the ground.

I'll probably be horribly wrong when he gets cut in training camp but I liked Morrow's film quite a bit. TJ Edwards is a better player and Morrow is unlikely to be anything special, but I think he's a pretty good linebacker that has some decent attributes.

I have some concerns about Nakobe Dean and Morrow's partnership if they end up starting together. In theory, having two really fast and undersized linebackers is perfect for the modern NFL and will help the Eagles' defense against the pass. But they'll also need to rely on the defensive line (especially Jordan Davis) to plug some gaps and keep them as clean as possible against the run, or the Eagles will look pretty light in the box. I imagine teams looking to “establish the run” with a power-heavy running game will test Morrow and Dean quite a bit next year. Having a good run defense is much more complicated than having good linebackers, but it obviously makes a big difference.

Even so, if Nakobe Dean develops as we hope and becomes a good starting quarterback, I think the Dean and Morrow partnership could be pretty decent. We know the Eagles don't value the linebacker position as a premium position and weren't going to bring back TJ Edwards because of his price, but I think Morrow can fill Kyzir White's role on defense and the Eagles might have saved themselves some money. without losing too much production.

We just have to accept that Howie will rely on a lot of stops at linebacker, and I think (and hope) Morrow will be able to be an average starter and not end up like Eric Wilson, Zach Brown or ‘insert failed' Eagles linebacker here'. I'm cautiously optimistic about Morrow, despite the very low ceiling. I think if he is asked to start, he will do a good enough job for the Eagles next season. But the Eagles will need to rely on Nakobe Dean to take a big step forward, or the linebacker room will take a pretty big step back.

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