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2019 NFL Draft: Eagles must go defensive line in first round

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Sunday night, I was reviewing draft notes while comparing them with NFL Combine numbers from that day and thought “the Eagles *must* get one of these defensive linemen.”

And then Monday happened.

Adam Schefter reported the team will be letting starting defensive tackle, Timmy Jernigan potentially walk in free agency. This is significant due to Jernigan’s contributions over the last two seasons, including being a crucial starter on the Eagles Super Bowl team. Injury, inconsistency and off-field drama blighted Jernigan’s second season in Philadelphia, giving the team enough reason to see him as replaceable.

It’s no mistake the team made that call official the day after the 2019 defensive line prospects worked out at the NFL combine. This group of players has been thought of as being the real meat of this class. Dozens of edge defenders and interior players have been mocked in the first round for the last few months and Sunday cemented that excitement. Top players like Ed Oliver, Montez Sweat, Dexter Lawrence, Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary, Quinnen Williams, Brian Burns and Josh Allen had standout performances. Add impressive athleticism to their already first round-level tape and you have one hell of an exciting class.

I’ve already covered the Eagles’ need at defensive line, and that was before the Jernigan news or the Combine. The team has a lot of question marks along their line that aren’t even answered by the Brandon Graham extension. Jim Schwartz likes a deep defensive line and drafting another edge player or defensive tackle is imperative.

As free agency looms, defensive tackle looks like the Eagles most pressing need upfront considering there is no surefire starter next to Fletcher Cox. Luckily for the team, the draft means help is on the way.