For the better part of the past 10 years, the interior of the Eagles defensive line has been one of the biggest strengths of the team.
After a lackluster season from the group in 2021, they’ll look to bounce back this year. With rookie first-round pick Jordan Davis now in the fray, along with veterans Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, Philly’s defensive front should be force in 2022.
Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the group as they prepare for the upcoming NFL season.
How will the starting lineup shape up?
Although the team has high hopes for both Davis and second-year lineman Milton Williams, Cox and Hargrave will likely still see the majority of playing time.
Despite a down season from Cox in ’21, Hargrave put forth his best season to date, recording 7.5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, and 18 quarterback hits. As a pass rusher, Hargrave was elite last season. His 91.6 Pro Football Focus pass rushing grade ranked second among 95 qualifying interior lineman, behind only Aaron Donald. For as great as he was as a pass rusher, Hargrave did struggle immensely against the run. He posted a 30.1 PFF run defense grade in 2021, ranking him 131st out of 136 defensive tackles.
Luckily for the Eagles, Jordan Davis should be able to fix that issue. He was one of the best run stuffers in college football last season and there’s no reason his 6-foot-6, 340-pound frame can’t have the same effectiveness at the NFL level.
Ideally, Jonathan Gannon will mix and match his defensive tackle personnel to fit whatever situation they find themselves in. Cox and Davis make the most sense as the early down tackles, with Williams and Hargrave rotating in on passing downs. Cox should get plenty of run in passing situations as well. He was still proficient as a pass rusher in 2021 despite not recording a whole lot of sacks; his 76.2 pass rushing grade (13th among defensive tackles) speaks to that.
There will be a lot of room for creativity with the Eagles interior line this season. With four capable bodies in the room, Gannon should have no issue coming up with ways to get production out of every one of them.
Will the Eagles keep any other additional DTs on the roster?
After carrying four defensive tackles entering the season last year, it’s hard to imagine the team will look to increase that number this time around. If one of the four interior lineman goes down with an injury, the team should still have a stockpile ready to go on the practice squad.
Second-year defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu may be the first interior lineman called up if the situation presents itself. He played sparingly as a rookie but given the fact that he was drafted by the team, he’ll likely get first dibs. Some other names to keep an eye on during camp will be undrafted rookie Noah Elliss and second-year player Marvin Wilson.
Head over to foco.com to get your hands on some fresh Eagles gear for the summer. From limited time bobbleheads, to sleek apparel for every major Philly sports team, FOCO has a wide selection of items to fit anyone’s taste. Use promo code FULLSCALE15 at check out to get 15% off all in stock items!