With the 224th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected the former Second Team All-SEC safety, JaCoby Stevens, out of LSU. Stevens broke onto the scene in 2019 by helping LSU win a National Championship with a spectacular season, but he was overshadowed by three of the best defensive backs in the country playing alongside him, not to mention one of the most prolific college offenses ever seen. Going into his senior year in college he was projected as a day two pick, but he fell down draft boards due to injuries and being played out of position.
Stevens was used as a coverage safety that blitzed quite often, but he was tasked to cover receivers like CeeDee Lamb and DeVonta Smith. Stevens was picked apart in coverage against wideouts, causing his draft stock to plummet. However, he is very good at matching up 1-1 with tight ends, and he thrives when playing around the line of scrimmage. In the graphic below, you can see how Stevens compared to safeties in College Football while blitzing over the past two seasons.
Stevens's Role in Philadelphia
Over the last few years, the Eagles have lacked that sideline-to-sideline money backer that can play all over the field, but Stevens has the potential to fill this much-needed void. Stevens was considered a tweeter in college, and scouts didn't think he has the speed to play safety or weight to play linebacker. However, Stevens is 6'2", 230, and the modern-day linebacker is around 6'2", 230. Additionally, Stevens ran a 4.50 in his 40-yard dash during his Pro-Day, which is very impressive for someone of his size. Stevens possesses all of the athletic abilities to thrive in Philadelphia, but what may be even more impressive is his leadership skills. Stevens was considered the backbone and emotional leader of LSU's defense over the last couple of years, which is a trait that the passionate fanbase of Philly will cherish. I expect Stevens to get some special teams snaps over the first few weeks, and I wouldn't be shocked if Stevens is starting as a wide-side linebacker by Week 3. Overall, I expect Stevens to play a lot of snaps in his rookie year, and he may be the most NFL-ready defensive rookie in midnight green.