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Eagles depth chart following the 2022 NFL Draft: Defense edition

Early look at how Jonathan Gannon’s side of the ball is coming together.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Free agency and the NFL Draft are behind us so let’s take a look at how the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2022 projected depth chart is shaping up. We outlined the offense on Monday. We’ll continue today with the defense before next moving on to special teams. After that, we’ll post our first 53-man roster projection for the upcoming season. (For fun, take a look at how the roster looks compared to last year at this time.)

DEFENSIVE END

1 - Josh Sweat

2 - Brandon Graham

3 - Derek Barnett

4 - Tarron Jackson

5 - Matt Leo

When one closely examines Sweat’s 2021 season, it’s arguably less impressive than the Pro Bowl designation would indicate. Still, Sweat was the team’s best edge rusher last year and he turned 25 in March. It’s reasonable to think he might be able to turn in a double-digit sack season in 2022. Graham turned 34 in April and is coming off an Achilles injury so it remains to be seen how much he has left in the tank. Despite an expectation he’d leave in free agency, Barnett is back. Exactly no one will be surprised when he commits too many dumb penalties. Jackson will be pushing for a role in the pass rush rotation, albeit a smaller one. Leo, who recently turned 30, is entering his third year in the NFL’s International Player Pathway program. Not exactly a young developmental player.

SAM

1 - Haason Reddick

2 - Patrick Johnson

3 - Kyron Johnson

4 - Joe Ostman

5 - Ali Fayad

Note: We’re designating SAM as a different position from defensive end since the Eagles have a number of undersized edge rushers that they’re officially listing as linebackers.

Only four players have more sacks than Reddick over the past two seasons; he’s here to attack quarterbacks. Should be exciting to watch him play. Patrick Johnson intrigued the Eagles enough last year to roster him as a late-round pick. Kyron Johnson will push his brother (not actually related to Patrick as far as I know) for that backup SAM role. Ostman is back for another summer after struggling to stay healthy in recent years. Fayad is theoretically in the mix for the backup SAM spot but might be more of a practice squad candidate.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

1 - Fletcher Cox

2 - Javon Hargrave

3 - Jordan Davis

4 - Milton Williams

5 - Marlon Tuipulotu

6 - Renell Wren

7 - Marvin Wilson

8 - Noah Elliss

Howie Roseman made a lot of good decisions this offseason but re-signing Cox for $14 million was a bad call. This is a declining, aging player with 4.5 sacks in his last 22 games. He’s still above average but he’s not justifying a price tag that makes him tied for the 10th highest paid interior defender in 2022. Hargrave kinda went quiet after a real hot streak to start the season. Can he be more consistent as he enters a contract year? Davis has the potential to be a difference-maker in a way that doesn’t necessarily show up in the box score. Williams looked ready to take on a bigger role after flashing as a rookie but re-signing Cox and drafting Davis figures to limit his opportunities. Tuipulotu made the team last year despite being invisible in camp and pretty bad in preseason games. Wren has some NFL experience. The Eagles listed Wilson as “Marvin Williams” on their rookie minicamp roster so that might not be the best sign for Big Marv’s stock. Elliss has prototypical nose tackle size and received a good chunk of guaranteed money as a UDFA signing. Could be a practice squad guy.

LINEBACKER

1 - T.J. Edwards

2 - Kyzir White

3 - Nakobe Dean

4 - Davion Taylor

5 - Shaun Bradley

6 - JaCoby Stevens

7 - Christian Elliss

Edwards played the second-most snaps of any Eagles linebacker last year. Though athletically limited, he’s able to make meaningful contributions as a physical, downhill starter. The Eagles signed White to a deal worth up to $5 million with $3 million guaranteed. The veteran has deficiencies as a run defender but has speed to make plays via coverage or rushing. Some may wonder why Dean isn’t listed as LB1 here. It’s possible the rookie ends up being a Day 1 starter but there’s thought that linebacker is a position where young players especially take time to acclimate to the NFL. Taylor was having an active training camp before injuries derailed his season. Bradley is at least a good special teams contributor and provides depth as a defender. Stevens struggled as a rookie, which wasn’t shocking given his transition from safety. Perhaps the Eagles should just move him back to that spot? Elliss is likely a camp body.

CORNERBACK

1 - Darius Slay

2 - Zech McPhearson

3 - Avonte Maddox

4 - Tay Gowan

5 - Josiah Scott

6 - Kary Vincent Jr.

7 - Mac McCain III

8 - Craig James

9 - Josh Jobe

10 - Mario Goodrich

11 - Josh Blackwell

Slay is the only sure thing the Eagles have when it comes to their outside cornerbacks; the 31-year-old is coming off a Pro Bowl season. McPhearson is currently the top candidate to be CB2. ZMP impressed in training camp last year so maybe there’s some legitimate hope for him? Or maybe the Eagles end up signing Xavier Rhodes or Trae Waynes (both have connections to Jonathan Gannon) to be a stop-gap starter. Maddox is coming off his best season; he really excelled in the slot. Gowan, KVJ, McCain, and James are the strongest contenders to challenge McPhearson for the CB2 role. Scott is more of a backup nickel. Jobe and Goodrich are UDFAs with paths to make the team due to the unsettled nature of their position group. Blackwell is a long shot.

SAFETY

1 - Anthony Harris

2 - Marcus Epps

3 - K’Von Wallace

4 - Andre Chachere

5 - Jared Mayden

6 - Reed Blankenship

Harris, who turns 31 in October, returns as a stop-gap starter on a contract worth half the value he signed for last year. With 869 snaps logged over the past two years, it’s not like Epps totally lacks experience. But Epps is probably ideally more of a rotational third safety than a top two player position. Wallace’s stock has only ever gone down since the Eagles drafted him with a fourth-round pick. Perhaps there’s still hope for him but it’s hard to merely bank on his emergence. Chachere might be the team’s backup nickel option (he was at times last year) but they really lack safety bodies so I’m listing him here since he’s versatile. The Eagles liked Mayden’s special teams ability last season. Blankenship has a path to earn a roster spot as a UDFA since the Eagles lack great safety optiosn.