This is my first FanPost so bear with me.
If our beloved Philadelphia Eagles are to successfully make the transition to a true 3-4 Defense it will be absolutely paramount that we get a premier NT. The sooner, the better.
That being said, I do not by any means intend to express any discontent with Bennie Logan. I am very high on him, I love his ability to play up and down the line (VERSATILITY) and think he, along with Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton/Vinny Curry can become a formidable Defensive Line. However, as it stands now I see Logan as more of a 3-4 DE than a 3-4 NT. If he can get a bit better anchoring there, and add some weight I could be confident with him as our starter.
BUT, as previously mentioned, acquiring a top-tier NT is not only beneficial to us as a team, it is a necessity.
So without further ado, I bring you a brief profile of the top NT prospects in the 2014 draft (as it stands now); so that you may begin watching/evaluating this season and be prepared for our ever-lively Draft debates.
(Keep in mind not all of these guys play on 3-4 teams but may be able to make the transition):
1. Louis Nix, Notre Dame; 6-3 340lbs
Known as "Irish Chocolate", Nix is widely considered by most scouts to be the top DT in next year's draft. Is apparently quite agile despite his size/frame. Last year he was very active along the Defensive Line and started 11 of 13 games for the Fighting Irish. By all accounts he anchors well and has an excellent burst which leads to good interior pressure up the middle. Some say he can get better against the run but still posted 75 tackles including 7.5 for a loss and 2 sacks last year. Looks to have a great upcoming season. Potential 1st Rounder.
2. Daniel McCullers, Tennessee, 6-8 350lbs
A force on the line for the Vols and very disruptive against the run, McCullers anchors very, very well, as would be expected given his size. He sheds blocks fairly well and handles 2-gap responsibilities successfully. He faced numerous double and even triple-teams and was still able to post a respectable 39 tackles, 5.5 for a loss and a forced fumble. His long arms led to a pass break-up and a blocked kick. He is a raw prospect but should improve this year and see his stock rise. Leaves much to be desired in the pass rush dept. and lacks the agility to beat C/Gs and penetrate on passing downs. Gets good leverage despite his imposing frame.
3. Anthony Johnson, LSU, 6-3 305
Set to be a leader along the line for the Tigers this season, Johnson had 30 tackles, 10 for a loss, 3 sacks, and a pass break-up. Runs a 4.7 40 and has a great blend of size, power, and speed. Great burst, nicknamed "The Freak" (Kearse!). Pressures the QB but anchors well against the run. Could have a break out season. Some have him as a 2015 Draft prospect.
4. Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota, 6-6 311lbs
Former Basketball player with a 36 in. vertical, Hageman is an athletic marvel. Another great blend of size, strength, and burst. Benches 470lbs. As a sophomore, Hageman had 35 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, 6 sacks, a forced fumble and 2 pass break-ups, and a forced fumble. Hageman is another raw prospect, as he switched over to DT from TE. If that athleticism continues to show, he could see his draft stock rise significantly this season.
5. Timmy Jernigan, FSU, 6-2 300lbs
Last year, on a talented FSU Defensive Line, Jernigan recorded 46 tackles, 8 for a loss, and 1.5 sacks. Has fast, active hands and appears to have good upside. Disruptive in the middle, but we'll have to see if that production can continue/increase with Tank Carradine and Bjoern Werner leaving. May wait a year and declare for the 2015 Draft.
That's it for now, if there are other prospects you think I may have missed or would like to see profiled, I'm up to do a Pt. 2 of this post.
Any and all feedback is appreciated.
S/o and a big CONGRATS to Jimmy for his recent hire over at Philly.com. Very deserving.