Now that the season is underway, we’ll be breaking down some of the players who are signed to the New York Jets practice squad and could potentially be elevated or activated to play for the team at some point during this season. We start today with linebacker Sam Eguavoen, who was actually elevated to play in Monday night’s game.
The 30-year old Eguavoen was undrafted out of Texas Tech in 2015, but didn’t make his NFL debut until 2019. He has started seven games in his career, but was mostly a special teamer in 2022.
Eguavoen was a three-star recruit out of high school and went on to play four seasons at Texas Tech. He started five games as a freshman in 2011 and registered 30 tackles and a tackle for loss. He started nine games in 2012 and racked up 52 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
In his junior year, Eguavoen racked up 70 tackles and a career high 6.5 tackles for loss as he started all 13 games. Eguavoen then earned honorable mention all-Big 12 honors in his senior year. Although he missed a few games due to injury, Eguavoen registered a career-high 74 tackles, two sacks and the first interception of his career in 10 games.
After the season, Eguavoen wasn’t invited to the scouting combine and went undrafted, so he took a year off from football. Then, in 2016, he decided to try out for the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Eguavoen eventually spent three seasons in the CFL. His first year was cut short due to an injury in the sixth game, and his second year was a disappointment and almost led him to give up football. However, he broke out in 2018 with 81 tackles, three sacks and two touchdowns. He was then granted his release to pursue NFL opportunities.
Having signed with the Miami Dolphins, Eguavoen played in every game over the past four seasons, albeit mostly on special teams. He did start six games and played over 600 snaps in his rookie season, but he only has one start and less than 300 snaps combined in his other three seasons.
He had 42 tackles and 3.5 sacks in that rookie season, but he has just 29 tackles and half a sack in the three years since then. He did score his first NFL touchdown on a fumble recovery in 2021, though.
Last season, Eguavoen played just 34 defensive snaps and had four tackles. The Jets signed him during preseason and added him to the practice squad after final cuts.
Now let’s take a look at what Eguavoen brings to the table, divided into categories.
Eguavoen has average size and length, although he is listed as slightly bigger than he was at his pro day workout (227 pounds).
At his workout Eguavoen posted average numbers for speed and agility and only posted 16 bench press reps. His explosiveness numbers (38.5 inch vertical, 125 inch broad jump) were excellent.
Eguavoen has played both as an outside linebacker and as a middle linebacker in college, the CFL and at the NFL level. He’s mostly been an outside linebacker at the NFL level, but has taken snaps as an inside backer, in the slot or on the edge.
Eguavoen is an aggressive run defender who will attack the line of scrimmage and pursue across the field. This can lead to him running himself out of plays or being sealed off at times.
Eguavoen has the ability to shoot into the backfield and blow up runs when unblocked, which he did three times in his two preseason games with the Jets.
Here’s a nice play at the goal line where he fights off a block to stuff a run off the edge.
Eguavoen has some abilities in coverage, as he shows on this play where he gets good depth to deflect a pass.
He doesn’t make a ton of plays on the ball, but Eguavoen had four pass breakups in his college career and two at the NFL level. He intercepted one pass in college and two in Canada, although one was negated by a defensive penalty on a teammate.
Despite this, he failed to establish himself as worthy of a regular coverage linebacker role in Miami. His positional awareness and recovery speed let him down at times.
He had one penalty for pass interference in preseason action.
Eguavoen is an excellent tackler who has good closing speed, takes good angles and displays good technique when bringing a ball carrier to the ground.
He missed seven tackles in his rookie season, but five of these were in the first four games. Since then he has been very efficient. He had four more over the next three years.
He did miss a few tackles with the Jets, though, perhaps as a result of trying to be over-aggressive to make an impression.
Eguavoen has had some success as a blitzer over the years. He had 3.5 sacks in his last two seasons at Texas Tech, four in Canada, including three in his final season, and 3.5 in his rookie year.
He has displayed real potential in this area, including in a 2021 preseason game where he had four sacks, including one for a safety. One of these was a coverage sack where he was spying the quarterback, but the other three came on well executed blitzes.
Here’s another play that shows his untapped potential in this area, as he displays good strength to move the offensive lineman and gain an upfield leverage advantage to register pressure.
Having racked up 14 special teams tackles in the CFL, Eguavoen has been a mainstay on special teams with the Dolphins, playing on every unit apart from the placekicking unit. He’s rushed kicks, blocked on returns and in punt protection and covered kicks with 12 special teams tackles in his NFL career.
He’s consistent at getting downfield fast, as he showed on this play with the Jets, although the touchdown was eventually overturned by the replay booth.
In Canada, Eguavoen also had a big play when he blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.
Eguavoen attacks ball carriers and blockers with good aggression and his highlight reel is filled with big hits like this one.
Despite this, he has never been called for a defensive or special teams penalty in NFL regular season action.
Eguavoen’s instincts were clearly a weakness as a rookie, and he obviously hasn’t improved these enough to be a full time contributor since that time.
In 2022, he only saw 34 defensive snaps, with one of his roles being as an extra linebacker on the goal line package. This saw his over-aggressive nature exploited four times on touchdown passes where he was looking for the run and gave a receiver too much room.
Here’s a play where he shows good instincts to blow up a screen for a loss, even after colliding with the low crosser.
Eguavoen said he learned a lot when he was injured during the 2016 season. He’s worked hard in the film room and shown toughness and determination to make it at the NFL level despite the journey he had to take to get there.
Since his NFL debut, Eguavoen had played in 66 straight games, but that streak looked set to be snapped on Monday night as he wasn’t on the active roster for the Jets. However, he was elevated to play in the game.
Eguavoen was mostly healthy in college, although he missed a couple of games due to a lower leg injury. In Canada, he suffered a torn MCL and PCL that ended his season prematurely in 2016, although it did not require surgery. An ankle injury in camp affected his preparation the following year.
Having joined the Jets in preseason, Eguavoen - who has played in both 4-3 and 3-4 packages - has already had some experience in their system, and he obviously did well enough to earn a practice squad spot ahead of Nick Vigil.
Eguavoen has been a teammate of current Jets Thomas Morstead and Adam Pankey while in Miami.
As noted, Eguavoen was elevated from the practice squad for Monday night’s game, presumably for special teams duties.
The Jets are not particularly deep at the linebacker positions, so there’s every chance Eguavoen, with his starting experience and special teams credentials, could be added to the active roster at some point this year if the need arises.