Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/24/13
After being selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2006 draft, by the Houston Texans, DeMeco Ryans has solidified himself as one of the top defensive threats in the NFL. Coming out of the University of Alabama, scouts were skeptical about Ryans’ potential as a linebacker in the NFL. They believed that Ryans lacked the size, tackling, and pass covering ability to be a force. Ryans fell to the second round because of those doubts. Since then, Ryans has proved all of his naysayers wrong and above all else, has earned the respect of his coaches and teammates through the dedication and leadership he displays both on and off of the field. The two-time pro bowler spent six seasons in Houston before joining the Eagles. Since becoming the middle linebacker of a defense whose leadership has been sorely lacking, ever since the departure of legendary safety Brian Dawkins, Ryans has assumed the role of the leader on defense for the Eagles. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)                         Ryans has become a vocal eminence in the locker room, as well as representation for what a textbook tackle should look like.  Ryans is leading the Eagles defensive squad in tackles for the second straight season with 60 tackles as the mid way point of the season approaches. The greatest middle linebackers in NFL history have all been physical specimens who were blessed with the speed, size, and strength to play professional football. The best of the best lead by example on the field each and every Sunday, making big play after big play. However, the ones that we remember most are those who made an impact on their teams through their character. Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher were both the face of their franchises for more than a decade because of the way they represented themselves, their team, and therefore, their entire organization. Lewis and Urlacher were both on the declining end of their careers last year and demonstrated signs of slowing down. Nonetheless, both defenses are currently struggling following their retirements. This is because of the loss of leadership that has been endured by the Ravens and Bears. DeMeco Ryans is providing the Eagles defense with a player who makes everyone around him better. Sure, the Eagles are one of the worst pass defenses in the league, but the ultimate goal of a defense is not to allow the offense to accumulate points. Well, the Eagles have held their last three opponents to 21 points or under, leading them to a 2-1 record over the course of those three games. While DeMeco Ryans may be off to one of the best seasons of his career, quarterbacking an Eagles defense that has adapted a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Bill Davis, quarterback issues on the other side of the ball are going to result in an even larger responsibility piled onto his shoulders. In addition, if rookie Matt Barkley ends up taking the snaps under center in week 8, it is going to be up to the defense to carry the load against a Giants team that is coming off of their first win of the season.
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