There's arguably no unit on the Eagles more stocked than the defensive line. It's a crew that now boasts 4 first round picks (3 by the Eagles, a pair of high priced starting DEs and a number of other high impact or starting quality reserves.
At defensive end alone, the Eagles have four players who are arguably talented enough to start for more teams. Trent Cole and Jason Babin formed the most productive pass rushing tandem in football last year, while Brandon Graham & Vinny Curry are both blue chip prospects.
Defensive tackle isn't that much different. Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson started last year and will return. Fletcher Cox was the teams' first round pick and is expected to probably win himself a starting job at some point this year. Antonio Dixon is coming off a year injured, but he had supplanted Brodrick Bunkley as a starter in 2010.
Those are 8 names I've mentioned that are all but guaranteed to make the roster. But what about the other guys? Who else makes the roster and are there even enough snaps to go around? Here's who is left.
Derek Landri, Cedric Thornton, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt and Maurice Fountain.
Last year, the Eagles carried 11 defensive lineman on their roster. Trevor Laws (and Juqua Parker who appeared in 12 games) is the only departure and Antonio Dixon is coming off IR, so they cancel out. Brandon Graham was on the roster last year despite the fact that he was injured and didn't play for the most part, so the team very well may have used an extra roster spot to replace him last year. In 2010, there were large parts of the year where they carried only 9 DL. So let's go in the middle and say there's 10 spots to be had. If those last four guys, who get the last two?
I'll boil it down to after the jump.
Derek Landri is probably the most impactful player out of the whole group so I think he's a near lock. Maurice Fountain probably has no shot at the 53 man, so he's out. Ced Thornton is probably a practice squad candidate.
That leaves us with Tapp and Hunt. Tapp is the guy with experience, he can play on the right and is a useful two way defensive end. Hunt has more upside in the pass rush department. So really it will all depend on what the Eagles see that final DE as. A dependable veteran type or a prospect.
Typically I would say you go with the prospect when you're talking about such a deep roster spot. However, the Eagles already have two pass rush prospects that have yet to really prove themselves in the NFL, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. Both are more highly regarded prospects than Hunt as well.
That said, you could argue that they've also got two rock solid vets in Cole and Babin, neither of which Tapp is going to unseat.
So if there were only one roster spot for the two, who would you pick?