Somewhere in the past few weeks Billy Davis had an aha moment. He looked out onto the practice field and realized he's be just fine with Brandon Graham and Trent Cole as outside linebackers.

Cole and Graham have spent their professional careers as hands-on-the-ground defensive ends. In the Eagles' new defense, they're stand-up linebackers, asked to drop in coverage in ways they never imagined.

Graham was even asked to cover wide receiver Jason Avant downfield during Monday's practice. You can imagine how that one ended, with Avant celebrating in the end zone.

It's all part of the Eagles' evaluation process, which Davis admitted will continue deep into training camp. It will kick into high gear once the team starts tackling and hitting. Still, he's seen enough since the start of the offseason workout program to express confidence that Graham and Cole will transition just fine into their new roles.

"I've seen seven weeks of them standing up and going in the 3-4 and they can do either one," said Davis, after weeks of the organization taking a wait-and-see approach with the conversion. "At first it looked unnatural to them because it was. Now they have done it for a couple weeks and I'm impressed."

Graham is primarily playing the 'Jack' position in Davis' defense, sharing time with offseason acquisition Connor Barwin. Cole is in the 'Predator' spot where his main role will be rushing the passer.

None of the three are locked into a specific position though. Some days, the Eagles are flipping everyone (linemen, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties) in order to assess what they can do on the other side of the formation and in a slightly different role. They also want to familiarize them with every intricacy of their position. It's all part of their drawn-out evaluation period.

Graham may be slightly better suited for the system than Cole. He played as a 3-4 outside linebacker some of his time at Michigan. He was asked to drop in coverage 30-40 percent of the plays. Never in man coverage though.

That's the biggest difference between then and now. The Eagles are asking their linebackers to cover 1-on-1 rather than just guard an area in a zone defense. It's how Graham became engaged with Avant earlier in the week.

In order for Graham to be successful in this role, he knows it's imperative he drops weight to become quicker and faster so that he can run with tight ends. He's currently at 269 pounds. He wants to get to 255 pounds by the start of training camp.

That's a significant drop. Graham hasn't been at 255 since his freshman year at Michigan. But he knows it's going to take drastic measures to resurrect a career that seemed to finally get back on track late last season. The fourth-year pro had four sacks in his six starts to finish the campaign, yet once again must start over in order to re-prove himself, something he's done just about every year in a new system at Michigan and with the Eagles. Graham's had seven defensive coordinators in the past eight years.

The 2010 first-round pick once again needs to impress in order to remain in the team's future plans.

"I'm one step away from being wrote off," Graham said. "I'm definitely feeling that pressure. At the same time I'm going to take care of what I can and that is to work hard."

Hard work is something Cole knows well. He built himself into an NFL defensive end. He was a running back in high school, showed up at Cincinnati and played nose tackle. It wasn't until midway through college he found a home at end. Now, nine years into his professional career, he's being asked to switch positions.