One of the calling cards of the 2017 Eagles team (which won the Super Bowl) was their tremendous defensive line play. The centerpiece of that line was the Eagles’ 100 million dollar man, Fletcher Cox. Cox, unsurprisingly, turned in another tremendous season as a single gapping defensive tackle. Cox not only had 5.5 sacks, but catalyzed a lot of production for his teammates and created a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He is an elite defender and will continue to be a cornerstone of the defense for a while.
The Eagles also got a great season out of Timmy Jernigan, a newcomer by way of trade from the Baltimore Ravens. Jernigan was incredibly dominant as a run defender and added complimentary pass rush from the interior. The Eagles were so happy with his play that he got a multi year extension with the team.
The picture behind those two gets a bit murkier. Beau Allen was a very solid rotational piece but could be a free agent this season. Then there are Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls, who are both relatively unproven young players. While the team remains high on them, they aren't the best depth pieces the team could have.
Of course, the nature of Jim Schwartz’ scheme means guys like Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry are going to see snaps at defensive tackle in obvious passing situations. However, it certainly never hurts to add more bodies to the interior defensive line group. While the Eagles will probably wait a bit to address this positional group, here are some intriguing late round guys who warrant consideration:
- Tim Settle, Virginia Tech: Settle was an early entry into the draft after a strong redshirt sophomore season. At 6’3”, 330 pounds, Settle is an immense presence in the middle of a defense. He moves surprisingly well for his size and could be a big riser after the NFL combine. He has tremendous upside and Jim Schwartz could be head over heels for a guy with Settle’s combination of size and athletic ability.
- Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State: Shepherd has been a huge riser in the post season process. Shepherd dominated at the Senior Bowl and there will be a lot of intrigue going into the combine and pro day portion of the offseason. He has a strong build at 6’4” and 315 pounds. He is a very good pass rusher and would be a nice late round player who can contribute as a rotational piece.
- Poona Ford, Texas: It was a shock to many that Poona Ford got snubbed from the NFL combine. Ford was one of the better players on the Texas football season this passed season and wowed a lot of people at the Senior Bowl. The six foot defender has a stout build and can make an impact on run defense.
- Kentavius Street, NC State: While his teammate, BJ Hill, is getting a lot of press; Kentavius Street is going to impress a lot of people in the coming weeks. Street is a bit of a tweener at 6’2” and 285 pounds but he is an incredible athlete. Street might be a priority free agent, but teams will love his upside.