Howdy folks! As every day of training camp rolls by, there will be threads of live analysis as well as posts of practice notes here at Bleeding Green Nation. I’ll be providing commentary and analysis on three plays that stood out to me as noteworthy reps, with some notes from the players as well on their performances.Please note that these are just practice reps, and not worthy of overreaction.
Play #3, 2, and 1) Josh Sweat v. Steven Means v. Joe Ostman v. only being able to roster a certain number of people
The Eagles’ defensive line is good.
I still think the offensive line is the better unit as a whole. But in situations like these in camp, in which the quarterback isn’t really live and isn’t trying to avoid the rush as much, it sure can seem like the defensive line wins 4 times as often. They’re just buzzsawing out there.
The defensive tackles can be up and down. Fletcher Cox rips through everyone, but Destiny Vaeao, Aziz Shittu, and Elijah Qualls all haven’t really moved the needle for me. Lotta flashes, lotta inconsistency.
But the EDGEs are unbelievable. Michael Bennett and Chris Long kinda chill as vets, they have a few wins under their belts at about 80/90%. But Derek Barnett as a second year, Josh Sweat and Joe Ostman as rookies, and Steven Means as...well, Steven Means? They run hot on the 11-on-11 drills.
Today was a no-pads sorta day, but there will still a good amount of flashes. Sweat absolutely toasted Halapoulivaati Vaitai off the snap on a clear passing down, which was important to see. Sweat is an explosive tester but needs to better translate that athletic ability into on-field wins. In Florida State, he was harnessed by run-first defense and tackle reads; in Philadelphia, he’s just now flexing his muscles and seeing how fast he can go.
The hand usage is also a little different for Sweat, who worked a lot of inside hand usage in his FSU rushes. On those inside track rushes, Sweat had to get his outside shoulder across the OT’s face—now it’s mirrored. He needs to attack with some outside hand usage now, using clubs and swats to clear hands in order to win that EDGE track. Relying on the long arm and bull rush won’t cut it against top-flight OTs—but then again, the second-teamers Sweat will be seeing? He should be pretty successful.
Ostman won two reps that I saw—one against Jordan Mailata, one against Toby Weathersby—in the same way: you can’t get hands on him. Ostman isn’t mighty quick off the line, nor does he threaten you with size and quickness. But Ostman is very comfortable getting into an OT’s frame—Mailata is almost 100 lbs heavier than him, and Ostman gets right up in there—and once he draws your hand out, he strikes. His location and swiftness is great, and it allows him to immediately shove you off to the side. He’s slippery for sure.
Means is just the opposite. He’s huge, for one—just big and long and imposing. And then he’s got the juice off the line. Means rushes as a stand-up 9-technique more often than any other EDGE on Philadelphia, in part because he has that huge first step to eat up ground on offensive tackles. When he goes up against Taylor Hart, just get out—it’s unhealthy.
This is my take.
Joe Ostman and Steven Means are both CLEARLY 46-man players for other teams— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) August 7, 2018
I’m not sure how much you can get in a trade for Means—Ostman is gonna stick on another roster after he gets cut in 53s—but you should definitely test the waters. He’s in a contract year, and he should get a decent deal from another team in need of an EDGE3/high-end EDGE4.
(Speaking of EDGE trades, send Brandon Graham to the Raiders for Khalil Mack @Howie Roseman.)
If Means walks, he should be included in the comp pick formula in a decent way because he’ll get a fine contract, and I’m pretty sure that matters in the very super secret comp pick formula. With how much the Eagles coaching staff talks up Means, you’d have to imagine that other staffs will ask those questions when Means hits the street as a free agent. It’s not dissimilar to what happened to Trey Burton this offseason (Doug and Nagy connection).
What would a trade look like for Means? Flat out, probably a sixth or seventh. Philadelphia may be able to make the case that they’re interested in keeping Means beyond 2018 (Chris Long/Brandon Graham both possibly gone next season, as is Michael Bennett), but I’m not sure how much weight that bluff would carry. Either way, if a team knows they want to sign Means in 2018 and they have the extra capital, they may look to move a Day 3 pick for Philly. The Eagles also love to package bottom-of-the-roster guys in bigger deals—keep an eye on that as well.
I’m gonna miss Means and Ostman in practices when they both likely move on (Means after the season). Means still celebrates every fake sack/TFL he gets, no matter how low-effort the offensive resistance was. Ostman is King Camp Effort—he runs around and tries to get involved on every pursuit play. Super blue-collar, lunch pail dude. Gotta respect.
These three are going to absolutely terrorize OLs in the preseason, starting Thursday against the Steelers. Get excited.