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Eagles depth chart following the 2021 NFL Draft: Defense edition

A look at how Philadelphia’s roster is shaping up.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that free agency and the NFL Draft are behind us, let’s take a look at how the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2021 projected depth chart is coming together. We outlined the offense on Sunday. We’ll continue today with the defense before next moving on to special teams (yes, seriously). After that, we’ll post our first 53-man roster projection for the upcoming season. (For fun, you can look at how the roster looks compared to last year at this time.)

DEFENSIVE END

1 - Brandon Graham

2 - Derek Barnett

3 - Josh Sweat

4 - Joe Ostman

5 - Tarron Jackson

6 - JaQuan Bailey

7 - Matt Leo

Here’s hoping this is the season that Graham finally hits his double-digit sack goal. It’s a huge year for Barnett as he’s set to be a free agent after playing out his fifth-year option this season. Can Barnett still develop into a difference-maker or is he just what he is at this point? Sweat is also facing pressure to perform in order to earn his next NFL contract. The fourth spot behind the top trio is up for grabs. Ostman has more experience but the Eagles could look to go with the younger options in Jackson and/or Bailey. Leo has an uphill battle as a 29-year-old player with no NFL snaps to his name.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

1 - Fletcher Cox

2 - Javon Hargrave

3 - Hassan Ridgeway

4 - Milton Williams

5 - Marlon Tuipulotu

6 - T.Y. McGill

7 - Raequan Williams

Including the playoffs, Cox has 7,442 career defensive snaps under his belt. Can he still make an elite-level impact? Being healthier should help Hargrave have a better season than he did last year. Ridgeway has been injured more often than not in Philly so it’s hard to count on his availability. Williams’ potential is intriguing but the undersized rookie might not be able to majorly contribute right away. Tuipulotu, on the other hand, lacks Williams’ ceiling but might be more game-ready. McGill is the definition of a journeyman; this is the 11th stint he’s had with an NFL team. Williams was one of the Eagles’ prized UDFA signings last year but he has an uphill battle to make the 2021 roster.

LINEBACKER

1 - Alex Singleton

2 - Eric Wilson

3 - T.J. Edwards

4 - Shaun Bradley

5 - Davion Taylor

6 - Genard Avery

7 - JaCoby Stevens

8 - Patrick Johnson

9 - Rashad Smith

10 - Joe Bachie

Singleton was one of the very few bright spots from a dark 2020 season. The CFL alumnus is poised to be the team’s starting middle linebacker this year. There are concerns about Wilson as a run defender but the Eagles value his coverage ability. Edwards is probably limited to being a rotational defender/role player. Bradley might be able to force his way into playing time with a strong summer. Taylor must show improvement after looking lost as an especially inexperienced rookie. Avery is reportedly moving to linebacker but he’s still listed at defensive end on the team’s official website roster page. The Eagles listed Stevens and Johnson as linebackers despite the fact they played different positions in college (safety and edge rusher, respectively). To be determined what Jonathan Gannon has planned for those young guys. Smith and Bachie are long shots to make the team.

CORNERBACK

1 - Darius Slay

2 - Avonte Maddox

3 - Craig James

4 - Kevon Seymour

5 - Zech McPhearson

6 - Michael Jacquet

7 - Shakial Taylor

8 - Jameson Houston

9 - Lavert Hill

Slay being CB1 is the only sure thing about this position group. It’s not even clear who would start at CB2 if the Eagles played a game today. Maddox clearly lacks the ideal size to play on the outside and should be moved back into the slot. James is more of a respectable backup who can contribute on special teams than a full-time starter. Seymour has some NFL experience but is probably Just A Guy at best. McPhearson has a path to playing immediately given the Eagles’ lack of corner options. Jacquet struggled late last year but shouldn’t be written off entirely just yet. Taylor, Houston, and Hill are long shots.

SAFETY

1 - Rodney McLeod

2 - Anthony Harris

3 - Marcus Epps

4 - K’Von Wallace

5 - Andrew Adams

6 - Grayland Arnold

7 - Elijah Riley

It’s unclear when McLeod will be ready to play this season considering he suffered an ACL tear on December 16. He might have to begin the year on PUP, meaning he’d be out for at least the first six games. Harris was a nice pickup and he’ll be a sure starter at one safety spot. Epps ahead of Wallace might be controversial but it shouldn’t be since the former played more often and better than the latter last year. Ideally, Adams shouldn’t make the team because he’ll get beat out by the young guys. Arnold and Riley are 2020 UDFA signings with the potential to stick around.