One position group on the Eagles that hasn’t got much attention this offseason is defensive tackle. While it may not be as glaring of a need as other positions (wide receiver, cornerback, etc.), the team could really use some depth behind starters Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
Howie Roseman re-signed Hassan Ridgeway to provide some depth, but if either Cox or Hargrave goes down with injury, relying on Ridgeway or T.Y. McGill to step into a starting role is not ideal. The Eagles could very well spend their first round selection on Alabama’s Christian Barmore, given their history of drafting defensive lineman in the first round, but there are obviously bigger needs that the team should look to fill with their 12th overall selection.
Expect Roseman to target a defensive tackle with one of his later round picks. Here are three late round options to add some depth along the Eagles interior defensive line.
Tommy Togiai, Ohio State
Ohio State’s Tommy Togiai is a lean 6’2”, 296 pounds, but he plays with exceptional strength in both the run game and when he gets after the passer. The stats aren’t exactly what you’d like them to be, mostly due to the fact that he was part of a rotation along Ohio State’s interior defensive line, but the tape shows a relentless player who consistently fights through his blocks.
He is a legit bull rusher despite his size (he put up 40 reps at 225 on the bench press during his pro day, so yeah, he’s strong), and he’s nimble enough to get around guards and centers.
Togiai’s best game of his collegiate career was probably against Clemson in the College Football Playoff. He was disruptive on nearly every snap.
Togiai’s ceiling isn’t very high in the NFL, but as a rotational piece along the interior, he would be a welcomed addition behind Cox and Hargrave.
Daviyon Nixon, Iowa
Daviyon Nixon is one of the most productive defensive tackles entering this year’s NFL Draft. In his final year at Iowa, Nixon recorded 5.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Not to mention, he took an interception 71 yards to the house.
He isn’t great against the run, but if he’s placed next to bigger lineman who can eat up blocks, he should be just fine in running situations. Nixon’s trademark is his quickness. Whether it’s a simple rush up the field or a lineman stunt, Nixon’s quick feet and violence when attacking lineman shows up on tape. The only problem is, it’s not as consistent as you’d like to see — which is why he’ll likely slide to the later rounds of the draft.
Nixon could be a diamond in the rough in the fourth or fifth round, which is when we should expect the Eagles to target an interior defensive lineman. From day one, he would fight for rotational time with Ridgeway, and he’d almost certainly be the DT4 coming out of camp.
Jay Tufele, USC
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Jay Tufele will get drafted — some scouts have a second round grade on him, while others peg him as a day three prospect. Regardless, if he falls into day three and the Eagles decide to snag him, Tufele would be a great addition to the team’s interior defensive line.
Standing at 6’3”, 305 pounds, this USC product is extremely agile and knows how to get around blockers. His swim move is the best weapon in his arsenal and he uses it quite frequently when rushing the passer. Tufele isn’t a brick wall defender against the run, but he’s strong enough to take on double teams and quick enough to maneuver past them when two offensive lineman come his way.
He has all the tools to be a productive pass rushing defensive tackle at the next level, and placing him alongside guys like Cox and Hargrave will give him time to really hone his pass rushing skills.
Like I said earlier, there’s a chance Tufele is taken in the second or third round. But, if he falls to day three, the Eagles should keep this guy on their radar.
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