Meet The Prospect: Nate Gerry, Linebacker, Philadelphia Eagles

Sep 17, 2016; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers safety Nate Gerry (25) celebrates after a tackle against the Oregon Ducks in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2016; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers safety Nate Gerry (25) celebrates after a tackle against the Oregon Ducks in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports /

In the 6th round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Nate Gerry, a physical S/LB hybrid out of Nebraska.

In our Day 3 Target post, we discussed the possible 4-3 WLB the Philadelphia Eagles could look to draft.

Nebraska safety Nate Gerry was not one of them.

But after the selection came through, Gerry was announced a linebacker by the Eagles. With a cursory glance at his measurables and his tape, it’s easy to see why.

Gerry’s measurements fit that of an undersized linebacker or big box safety. Those percentile measurements are for Safeties, and we can see that he’s an excellent athlete (comparatively) in the size department, but lacks speed and significant explosiveness.

If you check out the Comparisons tab, Jayon Brown and Christian Kirksey show up. The Tennessee Titans just drafted Brown as a weakside backer with plus coverage ability. That pick was originally Philadelphia’s before they traded back for Shelton Gibson. Christian Kirksey, a 3rd-round selection by the Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft, just came in third in the league in tackles this past season, with 148.

Suffice it to say, Gerry has the athletic profile that translates nicely to a smaller, but more dynamic OLB in space. And the tape backs up that potential position switch.

Playing from a SS position, Gerry reads the split zone option action nicely. He’s a downhill player who has nice closing ability when playing in space. His tape is littered with high tackles–he actually jumps to make this one–which he’ll need to shore up as a LB. But his ability to read keys, react with speed, and fill the appropriate gap project nicely to a ‘backer role.

You’ll notice that, on the next Dakota Prukop keep, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with Gerry.

Here in a more hybrid SS/LB role, you’ll notice how disciplined Gerry remains on his read, as the MLB bites hard on the RB option. Gerry consistently exhibits the ability to fill his gap with patience, coming to balance instead of over-pursuing a tackle. His motor can run cold at times, but he doesn’t run himself out of position as often as a middle linebacker you and I may know (if you’re reading this, Mychal Kendricks, I’m not talking about you).

When playing in a single-high look, or even as a robber in the middle of the field, Gerry struggled to process route combinations, often getting frozen by crossers. While some may be interested in playing him as a S/LB hybrid that can play a two-high look if necessary, I would caution against that. He slip isn’t quick enough in space.

That being said, Gerry has nice physicality and size to disrupt in man coverage, and regularly succeed when carrying tight ends and running backs in space. Down the field he tended to lose a step, but in limited reps from close to the line of scrimmage, he exhibited plus coverage ability.

And before we wrap up the film, I have to show you this little nugget: After picking off Josh Allen last year, Nathan Gerry handed the football back to him.

How will Gerry fit in the Eagles defense? Given the conversion ahead, you can’t say for sure. I expect Gerry to come in as a backup 4-3 WLB this year. You’ll often see him on the field in subpackages. He has great run-defending ability for his size, as well as man-coverage upside. Without more reps of Gerry stacking and shedding blocks, who knows if he’ll ever become a consistent contributor as an early-down linebacker.

Next: Meet The Prospect: Shelton Gibson, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

With this said, the Philadelphia Eagles could look to transition to a 4-2-5 base package, in which Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are the only ‘linebackers’ on the field. Gerry could play as an overhang defender–think nickel CB with more responsibilities–if his coverage skills pan out. One indisputable thing about the Gerry selection? The Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for life after Mychal Kendricks.

The Eagles reached a touch for Gerry, so the grade will suffer. But the potential does excite.

Grade: B-