The Philadelphia Eagles signed Purdue defensive end Danny Ezechukwu in undrafted free agency following the 2018 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about the new Eagles pass rusher, I reached out to SB Nation’s Purdue blog: Hammers And Rails. Boilermakers writer Travis Miller (@JustTMill) was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you sum up what his college career was like?
It was mostly dismal, but finished on a positive note. Danny originally committed to Purdue under Danny Hope and stayed on board in that recruiting class after he was fired and Darrell Hazell took over. He redshirted in 2013 and then was mostly a top reserve and part time starter in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, when Hazell was eventually fired after a disastrous 9-33 run, he was not on the field a lot because we ran a ridiculous 4-2-5 alignment that took our strengths (linebackers) off the field in favor of more defensive backs (where we were thin). As a result, our run defense was awful.
In 2017, Jefff Brohm’s first year, he was utilized correctly for the first time in his career. He had a great season as a DE/LB hybrid, mostly playing on the end. He finished with 50 tackles, 5 sacks, an interception, and three fumble recoveries. He was great against the run and going downhill into the backfield. After four years of Hazell it was nice to see.
2) What are his strengths?
He was a very good linebacker against the run and at the point of attack. He brings good size to the position and seems to have a nose for turnovers. One of his highlights in 2015 was a 90-yard fumble return for a touchdown, so he even has a bit of speed.
3) What are his weaknesses?
He is not great against the pass. Part of the reason our DC tried the 4-2-5 in 2016 is because he struggled when he had to drop into coverage. His interception this past season came mostly on a tipped pass if I recall, but he is definitely a run-first guy.
4) Are you surprised he went undrafted?
Not really. Purdue is still trying to overcome the nadir of the Hazell era. Danny was always a solid college player, but he really only had one year (2017) where he was utilized best for his talents. It’s hard to get drafted on just one good season.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
It would be nice if he can just make a roster. Doing so as an undrafted free agent is hard, but not impossible. I think he might have a niche as a reserve edge rusher. We have put quite a few defensive ends in the league and he played roughly the same role as Ryan Kerrigan for us. If he could be even a 10th of what Kerrigan is in the league he’ll do well.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
Not a whole lot, TBH.