The Eagles are greatly in need of adding a dependable sack artist to their arsenal. While Trent Cole performed admirably in a scheme change and Connor Barwin has done a great job as a Swiss Army knife, the Eagles have to have a reliable pass rush. Luckily the 2014 NFL Draft is littered with fine pass rushers.
South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney, Buffalo's Khalil Mack and UCLA's Anthony Barr are the two most hyped options, but those guys will likely be gone by No. 22. However, the likes of Louisville's Marcus Smith, Missouri's Michael Sam, Auburn's Dee Ford and Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu will likely be around for the Eagles in the first and possibly second round. Attaochu may be a prime target for the Eagles in May.
A two-year captain of his high school team as a linebacker and defensive end, Attaochu was recruited to Georgia Tech. He played in 12 games as a true freshman and finished the year with 23 tackles (four for loss), three sacks and a hurry. As a sophomore, Attaochu started 10-of-11 games, but missed two due to injuries. He was an honorable mention All-ACC selection after collecting 59 tackles (led team with 11.5 for loss), led the team with six sacks, had two pass breakups, one interception and a fumble recovery.
As a junior, Attaochu played and started in all 13 games for Georgia Tech. He had 69 tackles (12 for loss), 10 sacks, a forced fumble and a recovery. He received another honorable mention All-ACC selection for his effort. Attaochu's senior season saw him get third team All-American honors as well as a second team All-ACC selection. He set the Georgia Tech career sack record with 31.5 total sacks after finishing with 12.5 in his final season. Along with the 12.5 quarterback sacks, Attaochu also had 45 tackles (16 for loss), two pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Attaochu was invited to the Senior Bowl but was asked to play 4-3 outside linebacker to show his ability in space. He struggled playing the LEO role for the Jaguars coaching staff, per several media outlets.
Attaochu is built similarly to Trent Cole. At 6-foot-3 and 252-pounds, there is room to grow for the hybrid player. He will likely move to 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level, which will highlight his ability in space. Georgia Tech used him in several areas and he blitzed/rushed from all of them.
Similar to Smith and Ford, Attaochu relies heavily on his speed when pass rushing. He has a very quick first step and was asked to stunt a lot. He is good at getting low without being mauled by an offensive lineman and his ability to bend and dip helps him get around edge well. He has strength and the ability to bull-rush but rarely does so. He tackles well and gets a good wrap up on both runners and quarterbacks.
A nasty player, who is aggressive and relentless, Attaochu is a great temperament for pass rusher. He has experience in pass coverage and was asked to drop back at Georgia Tech every now and then. He is fluid in space.
While he has the sack numbers, Attaochu is a bit of tweener and is still raw as a pass rusher. He is not a natural pass rusher, as he rarely relies on his hands or technique to beat offensive linemen (dip and speed are his only means of attack). He could also be better at reading the run. He seems to have all the talent in the world, but needs coaching. He is not a sure thing from the start and will likely serve a rotational pass rusher as a rookie.
He can cover but is in no way proficient at it. He gets lost in space despite having the speed to keep up in coverage. He is too reliant on his natural ability and needs to improve his technique in pretty much all areas.
The Eagles clearly need a pass rusher and while Attaochu isn't 6-foot-5, he has size and natural speed. A possible project or rotational player in his first season, Attaochu shouldn't lose his appeal to Philadelphia, as either Cole or Brandon Graham will likely be on the roster in 2014. Billy Davis and Chip Kelly appear to be fantastic teachers, which is what Attaochu needs. If he is there in the second round, the Eagles will probably consider taking him. He may actually be available in the third round, despite the draftnik hype. He is a talent but needs some polish.
Trust Your Own Eyes
(Watch the Pittsburgh game if you only plan on watching one, but watch it last if you plan on watching all. Trust me).