Eagles: EDGE prospects to get familiar with this college football season

The Philadelphia Eagles have been heralded as one of the better rosters in the NFL entering the 2022 season. Of course, nobody wins a championship during the offseason, but it’s hard to pinpoint any glaring holes on either side of the ball. Howie Roseman has done a tremendous job giving Jalen Hurts legitimate weapons on offense, while rejuvenating Jonathan Gannon’s defense with youthful talent.

The 2022 season is primed to be an exciting one for the Birds, but what kind of needs will this team face next offseason?

Looking at Gannon’s defense, there are still some long-term question marks facing that side of the ball. Defensive end, for example, looks to be a strength in 2022. But, with Brandon Graham’s age and the not-so-great long-term viability of Derek Barnett, it’s safe to assume Howie will prioritize the EDGE position in next year’s NFL Draft.

Luckily for Philly, there are several EDGE prospects who are worthy of a first-round pick next year. Here are some you’ll want to get familiar with this upcoming college football season.

Will Anderson, Alabama

By most accounts, Will Anderson is the consensus No. 1 defensive end prospect entering next year’s draft. Which means he’ll be a top-five pick when it’s all said and done. Hopefully, the Eagles aren’t in a position to draft this guy, but you never know. Nevertheless, the kid is so good that he’ll be worth watching even if he’ll be out of the Eagles’ range.

Anderson is a bit light for the position, weighing in at 245 pounds, but he has great length at 6-foot-4 and his production speaks for itself. As a true sophomore in 2021, Anderson led the nation in total pressures with 82, becoming just the second true sophomore to accomplish that feat — Chas Young being the other back in 2018.

On the season, Anderson tallied 17.5 sacks, 101 total tackles, and an astounding 31 tackles for loss. His 33 run stops was second among all defensive ends in Power Five conferences, proving that Anderson is not only a pass rushing extraordinaire, he’s an all around weapon that can be lethal in any defensive scheme.

Anderson is fast off the ball, can take on blocks with ease, and just flies to the football. He’s everything you could want in a defensive end prospect.

For all intents and purposes, Anderson has already solidified his status as a top-five prospect in next year’s pool. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll be one of the first players off the board next April.

Myles Murphy, Clemson

Much like Anderson, Clemson’s Myles Murphy is an all around disruptive force from the defensive end position. The major difference being Murphy’s size, coming in at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds. As a true freshman, Murphy recorded a Pro Football Focus run-defense grade of 92.5. As PFF states, “That’s special stuff.”

During his 2021 campaign, Murphy recorded 39 total tackles, 8 sacks, and 14.5 tackles for loss. His production isn’t really close to Anderson’s, but his size and raw athleticism leaves a lot of room for growth and if he shows some development in 2022, Murphy will likely be another consensus top-five, top-10 selection.

He offers some versatility with his size, lining up outside the tackle as well as inside. Murphy’s bull rush is one of the best in the upcoming class. When he gets under the tackle’s pad level, it’s all over.

In one of ESPN’s latest mock drafts for next year, they had the Eagles taking Murphy with the 16th pick. I’d be a little shocked if he fell that far, but crazier things have happened. It’ll be interesting to see how much his draft stock is impacted by this upcoming season.

B.J. Ojulari, LSU

As a pure speed rusher off the edge, there may not be any prospect better than LSU’ B.J. Ojulari in next year’s class. He has your classic speed rusher build, standing at 6-foot-3, 244 pounds. His ability blow past tackles along the edge and utilize his quickness to dip under the extended arms of would-be blockers is impressive to say the least.

Ojulari also does a nice job converting his speed to power when fighting off blockers, though, he could be a bit more consistent at it. PFF describes the defensive end as, “All finesse off the edge without much in the way of physicality to his game.” Sports Illustrated sang a similar tune on Ojulari in their scouting report, stating, “[Ojulari] has underwhelming play strength and plays with a high pad level that gives his chest up routinely.”

If Ojulari incorporates more power moves into his pass rushing arsenal and adds some more muscle entering this upcoming season, he’ll likely sky rocket up draft boards. But even if he doesn’t, he provides enough physical potential to warrant a first-round selection.

Ojulari has shown flashes of power in his game, he just needs to do it at a more efficient rate.

Andre Carter, Army

Of all defensive end prospects listed here, Army’s Andre Carter is the one I’ll be watching the closest. Physically, he looks a lot like the No. 2 overall pick from this past year, Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson. Carter comes in at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds. His elite length keeps blockers at bay and he has one of the highest motors in this draft class. The great thing about Carter is his production isn’t solely from his high-effort play, he utilizes several pass rushing moves and has developed dramatically during his time at Army.

He showed up at West Point’s campus as long, skinny two-star tight end recruit and has quickly become of the most exciting EDGE prospects in the country. Not only does he possess crazy athleticism, his football IQ is off the charts. This play is a perfect example of that:

Are you kidding me?

There aren’t many defensive ends prospects who are even capable of pulling this off.

Playing at Army, the subpar talent he faces on a week-to-week basis is a fair criticism. But it’s not like his impact dipped all that much when playing Power Five teams. Carter faced three Power Five teams last season — Wake Forest, Wisconsin, and Missouri — and still managed to post a PFF pass-rush grade of 89.2. In those three games, Carter recorded 7 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.

On the year, Carter tallied 41 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks, along with 1 interception. He also tied Hutchinson for the highest PFF pass-rushing grade in the nation with a 93.4 mark.

Army hasn’t produced a first-round pick since 1946. If Carter follows up his outstanding 2021 outing with another strong effort in 2022, he could be the one to finally buck that trend.

Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State

Although Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah is no slouch in the athleticism department, his true calling card is his refined pass rushing ability. Typically, the uber-athletic prospects garner the most attention during the draft process, but refined athletes usually produce a bit earlier in their NFL careers. That could reign true with Anudike-Uzomah when he has his name called next April.

For a true sophomore, the Kansas State product showcased a very nuanced pass rushing pallet that left tackles looking for answers. He has a great first step, accurate hand placement, a deadly rip and pull move, and the power necessary to throw lineman around at times.

During the 2021 season, Anudike-Uzomah recorded 50 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks. At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, he already has ideal size to play defensive end in the NFL.

Not every outlet has Anudike-Uzomah pegged as a first-round prospect just yet, but he’ll certainly climb up draft boards with another excellent outing in ’22.

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