When the Eagles selected Nate Gerry in the fifth round of last month's NFL draft, the tickers on NFL Network and ESPN listed him as a safety. That's the position where he lined up when he played on Nebraska's defense for four seasons, and where he accumulated 13 interceptions over his last three. But when the Eagles announced him as their selection they called him a linebacker.
The 6-foot-2, 218 pounder also plays special teams. And was the Huskers' backup long snapper. An athletic juggernaut, Gerry can do almost anything he's asked, and in today's NFL, that's exactly what is needed.
“I was pretty open-minded," Gerry said after being drafted the 184th pick. "With my agent, we didn’t really know where I was going to go. … A lot of teams wanted me to make that transition to linebacker, but a lot of them saw me at safety, so it kind of came down to who was left on the board and who was up at next pick. I’m very excited. I think the linebacker role is going to fit me really well, especially in the scheme that we’re running.”
Like the Panthers got in running back and slot receiver Christian McCaffrey, and the Cleveland Browns got in defensive back and linebacker Jabrill Peppers, the Eagles are clamoring over the athleticism Gerry brings, and the multitude of contributions he can bring to the squad. More and more, position is mattering less and less.
Gerry won a state title in the 100 and 200 meter runs in his native South Dakota and played second base and catcher on the baseball diamond where he was all-state.
The chance to play big-time college football in the Big 10 is what made him decide to choose that sport over his high school specialty and favorite in baseball. His natural abilities will pair well with a work ethic that Gerry is quite proud of.
"I was always born and raised to just be able to put my head down and go to work," Gerry, who once collected 15 tackles as a safety against Iowa, said. "So for me, it’s just being able to do the little things right. That came to just watching a lot of film outside of practice and then being able to transition the things that I had taken from the film onto the practice field. And just being able to put my nose down and go to work every week and then you know just benefiting off of that.”
The Eagles VP of Player Personnel couldn't agree more and supports defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz' plan to play him at linebacker.
"To me, he wasn't just a safety that could play down in the box," Joe Douglas said. "He was an athletic guy that could range all over the field, and I think you're going to see that range even more so at the linebacker position."