Philadelphia Eagles: The pressure is on for Nathan Gerry

(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Suddenly elevated to the top name on the Philadelphia Eagles’ depth chart, the pressure is on Nathan Gerry to tap out his potential as a coverage linebacker.

Four years ago, Nathan Gerry was a college safety. Four years ago, Nathan Gerry was waived after his first training camp. And now, on the cusp of his fourth NFL season, Nathan Gerry is the top name on the Philadelphia Eagles‘ linebacker depth chart.

What a crazy development.

But really, is there a better word Gerry’s development than, well, development?

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We’re talking a player who went from a two-time high school state champion track star to a hard-hitting Big 10 box safety, to the Eagles’ top coverage linebacker in less than a decade, all the while having to adjust his body to fit his designated role.

Some players get mad that they have to change helmets, let alone positions.

But despite the initial setbacks and the very real possibility that his NFL career could prematurely end without being able to show why he was drafted in the first place, Gerry kept his head down, fought like heck, and came out on top.

A second contract is by no means guaranteed for a college box safety who spent multiple years moonlighting at a different position. Had things not worked out, or that the team opted to draft a premier coverage linebacker at any point in either of the last two seasons, it’s entirely possible Gerry is wasting away on some team’s practice squad, or a special teams-only utility defensive backer with a team like the Bengals or Dolphins.

Instead, he’s a Super Bowl champion, a strongside linebacker, and a starter until otherwise noted.

But just how safe is the ex-safety’s starting spot in 2020? Sure, with Nigel Bradham officially gone and Kamu Grugier-Hill set to potentially follow suit depending on how free agency shakes out, Gerry stands atop a motley crew of linebackers like Alex Singleton, T.J. Edwards, and Duke Riley.

I know the NFL in 2020 is far from reliant on run-stuffing base defenses, but that collection of players is among the worst in the league regardless of scheme or system.

Still, the set of skills Gerry has cultivated over the past three seasons is universally lauded in the modern NFL and could fit in alongside any player the Eagles opt to add with very little exception.

If Howie Roseman is somehow able to draft a generational middle linebacker a la Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner, then Gerry can slot in as a sideline-to-sideline outside linebacker capable of covering running backs, tight ends, and even an occasional slot receiver.

At Nebraska, Gerry had 13 interceptions over his final three seasons. In the NFL, Gerry has picked off three passes and defensed eight in 39 games of action, more than Braham, more than KGH, and more than Jordan Hicks over their shared time in South Philly.

Heck, even if the Eagles opt to target speed and range at linebacker, a Deion Jones-type if you will, Gerry’s experience in Jim Schwartz‘s scheme would ease any sort of transition and remain a steady contributor in sub-packages as a coverage specialist – the same role he’s filled since 2017.

Next. Greg Olsen chooses Seattle over Washington. dark

Barring a massive infusion of talent at linebacker in 2020 that raises the talent floor to a near-generational level, Nathan Gerry will remain a steady contributor with the Philadelphia Eagles as a fourth-year pro. That’s his floor. If, however, he can take a step forward as a full-time, top dog contributor, then boy, oh boy, could he transform the defense into something special. Fortunately, Gerry performs very well under pressure.