The Next "Big" Thing
By Matt LaPan
Some fans may not realize it, but recently Boston College has become a very good "farm system" for NFL linebackers. Currently, there are seven former Eagles on NFL rosters at the linebacker position. This includes the 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Luke Kuechly.
One of Kuechly's former teammates at Boston College is looking to make his own NFL dream come true in the 2014 draft, that player being Kevin Pierre-Louis.
Pierre-Louis is an outside linebacker who possesses very good lateral speed but faces one major problem in his quest for the NFL -- his size. Pierre-Louis stands at 6-foot-1 but weighs only 215 pounds, which is small, even for a weakside linebacker (where Pierre-Louis plays at BC).
But how small is too small to play linebacker in the NFL? Could Pierre-Louis make a name for himself as the next "little guy" to take the NFL by storm? To examine the chance Pierre-Louis has, one must look at the comparable outside linebackers in the NFL.
When looking at the top-20 outside linebackers by number of tackles, their size averages about 6-3-, 240. Of these LBs, most fit into the niche of the "tackling machine" on their team (with the exception of Anthony Spencer, who had 11 sacks in 2012), a role that Pierre-Louis fills at Boston College, registering 85 tackles in just nine games last year while battling injuries.
These numbers and injury history conjure up memories of another former Eagles linebacker, current St. Louis Rams LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Dunbar finished his senior year with 90 tackles and 4.5 tackles for a loss. He also defended five passes and intercepted one.
Pierre-Louis' numbers could be on the rise this season as well under the new Steve Addazio regime. Addazio hired former UConn defensive coach Don Brown. Brown has seen great success at UConn in recent years, sending standout linebacker Sio Moore to the NFL in the 2013 draft. Brown's style is known for aggressive linebacker play, which could highlight Pierre-Louis' speed and length.
But even with the coaching change, the biggest question for Pierre-Louis is if his body could hold up at the NFL level. Currently Pierre-Louis struggles when taking on bigger linemen in the run game, which will only get exploited more at the next level. So could Pierre-Louis be the next "big thing" at the linebacker position? Only time, and size, will tell.