Gerry Could Eventually be the Eagles’ Hybrid
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Newton's third law is a simple one: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
In today's NFL, the spread-and-shred style of offenses around the league is being countered by defenses looking for hybrids, usually oversized safeties who can at least hold their own at the point of attack if need be. Perhaps best exemplified by Arizona's Deone Bucannon and the Los Angeles Rams' Mark Barron, just about every defensive coordinator in the NFL is on the lookout for this type of player.
The Eagles took a shot in the fifth round of April's draft by selecting Nebraska safety Nate Gerry and immediately telling the Sioux Falls native that his future home is at linebacker.
Listed at 212 pounds coming out of Lincoln, Gerry has the frame to add weight and was pegged at 218 on the Eagles' OTA roster before telling reporters Thursday he's now at 228 pounds.
With the physical transformation complete, it's now about the mental one and moving from the back end with the Cornhuskers to the front seven, where he's worked on both the weak side and the strong side in Jim Schwartz's defense.
"Really good. Really good," head coach Doug Pederson said when asked about Gerry's transition on Thursday. "He's a smart kid. It's definitely a different role for him. He is comfortable, however, around the line of scrimmage because he's played down as a safety. Now he's playing more in the box and there is a lot more happening there from a linebacker's position."
Gerry lauded veteran Nigel Bradham as one who has helped him during the spring. A veteran of Schwartz's defensive scheme in both Buffalo and Philadelphia, Bradham has been preaching alignment and assignment to Gerry, noting that being off your spot by a few inches in the NFL could be the difference between stopping a play and getting beat.
"Football's football, but being five yards, six yards closer to the ball, things just happen faster," Gerry said. "Just being able to react and make the right decisions with a little bit more quickness. So far, that's probably the only thing that has jumped out to me as being different (from safety and LB)."
Gerry confirmed to 973espn.com that the hybrid role may be something for down the line but right now it's about special teams for the rookie (he's been working on all four units) as well as learning the nuts and bolts of the two OLB positions, WILL and SAM.
"If you want to make the team, you gotta do in on special teams," Gerry admitted. "I put a priority first on that, but at the end of the day, I still have to learn the linebacker position. I still have to learn the scheme of the defense."
In theory, as Gerry grows more comfortable, the Eagles will add more to his plate and who knows, maybe Schwartz will eventually have his own hybrid.
"He's a hard worker; he's smart; he's instinctive," Pederson said. "You know, it will be interesting to put the pads on in July and August and see, physically, where he's at."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen