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Ranking 12 defensive tackles for the Eagles in the 2023 NFL Draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 West Virginia at Pitt Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Full disclaimer: as some of you may know, I am from England, so I do not watch any college football during the season and I go into this process with absolutely no preconceptions about who I’m about to watch. I watch at least three games of each player I rank, but I cannot share any film with you here because sharing college All22 online is dangerous and I do not want to be blocked!

These rankings are based on how I think these prospects would fit the Eagles’ scheme or who I want the most based on who the Eagles already have at a certain position. This is very important, so please keep this in mind! Therefore, sometimes I may have one player above another, even if I think the other player is a better overall prospect. If a player isn’t on this list, I haven’t watched them yet! I have also put them into tiers because sometimes there isn’t a lot of difference between prospects, and I find the tiers useful to separate players.

Defensive Line

Tier 1

1. Jalen Carter, Georgia

I see Carter as an elite prospect as a disruptive 3 technique, but he can do it all. He could play anywhere along the defensive line and would be fine. He’s a high-level prospect with outstanding traits and the film to back it up. He has an explosive element to his game and can win in so many ways. He can be over-aggressive at times and could anchor better at times, but the upside is as high as anyone in this class.

Eagles Thoughts: He won’t make it to 10, but the Eagles should run to the podium if he does. I would support a trade-up for him and he would help the Eagles out immediately and in the long term.

Tier 2

2. Calijah Kancey, Pittsburgh

I am conflicted on Kancey. I love the film. The quickness, burst, and explosiveness to rush the quarterback are about as good as it gets from a 3-technique. Interior pressure and quickness are hard to find and Kancey has them. The ? is whether he can be a 3-down player and handle his run defense responsibilities. If he can, he will be an excellent pro.

Eagles Thoughts: I am a big believer in measurables and looking at past success so I have huge concerns about Kancey’s size but I think he might be an outlier and I would take him at 10 (or ideally trade down and pick him up). Remember these rankings are about the Eagles and not a generic team. He would instantly provide the Eagles with a really good 3rd down pass rusher from the interior which the Eagles are missing after losing Javon Hargrave, and he can hopefully get bigger and stronger with time. I would take the chance on him as he could be a fantastic fit next to Jordan Davis in the future.

*If you think I am way too high about Kancey, please listen to my try and defend myself on The EPA Podcast on BGN Radio.

3. Bryan Bresee, Clemson

Bresee is one of the most interesting prospects in this year’s DT class. The potential and upside are obvious and he has the size and traits to be a very good versatile defensive lineman. He is an explosive athlete. However, due to injuries and other circumstances, he hasn’t had the experience or film to back up what the potential shows. I imagine he will go early but he needs a fair bit of work still.

Eagles Thoughts: 10 would be far too risky for Bresee, but I imagine he goes toward the middle of the 1st round. I highly doubt he is there when the Eagles pick at 30, but he would certainly be worth the risk at pick 30. He is someone I see as a mid-1st player.

4. Mazi Smith, Michigan

Mazi Smith is a serious talent. He should be a day-one starting early-down nose tackle who can impact the game immediately. He has pass-rushing tools and if he can develop them further, he could be a superstar. I really liked the film and the talent.

Eagles Thoughts: If the Eagles hadn’t added Jordan Davis last year, I would have loved them to consider Smith. The Eagles can’t add another nose on day 1 or 2. However, if they believe Mazi Smith or Jordan Davis can play together, then I would absolutely support going after Mazi Smith at pick 30. I think he’s a really good talent.

Tier 3

5. Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin

Benton is not fully developed as a pass rusher at this point, but he looks like he can develop into a 3 down player. He has really good size and length. He isn’t explosive and when he plays upright he can struggle, but he looks the part and has the tools to be really good. He is very inconsistent currently but flashes high-level potential.

Eagles Thoughts: Benton would fit nicely in the Eagles' defense, I think he would make an excellent pick in the 2nd round as the upside is there but he could contribute immediately in the rotation too.

6. Adetomiwa Adebawore, Northwestern (I see him as a DT rather than EDGE in the Eagles’ scheme)

I’ll be honest, I really struggle to project players when I’m not even sure where they will play. He played more snaps as an EDGE defender last year but I have him here as I think his size means he will play more snaps on the interior defensive line. The upside is extremely high with Adebawore, and his athletic testing at the combine was absolutely nuts, but he is still more of a projection at this point as he has quite a few areas he needs to work on (hand usage, counter moves, missed tackles).

Eagles Thoughts: I am always in favor of adding pass rushers to a defense. Adebawore would have the luxury of not starting for the Eagles and he could develop while playing some snaps on obvious pass-rushing downs. The Eagles lost Hargrave in FA and Adebawore could certainly be an option to help provide some explosive interior pass-rushing ability on early downs. The traits and athletic testing make him worthy of a very high pick, but there are enough concerns with the tape that I would feel more comfortable taking him in the 2nd.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 01 Reese’s Senior Bowl Practice Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tier 4

7. Gervin Dexter, Florida

Dexter flashes moments of brilliance but the traits don’t match up with the film. He has the potential to be really good if he is coached well and develops. But the production over 3 years is not great, he is too upright and late off the snap far too frequently. He would be a traits selection with upside but high bust potential.

Eagles Thoughts: I’m not sure where Dexter will go, but I don’t think he’s worth an early pick due to the risk. I would take a chance on him in the 3rd and he could potentially back up Cox/Davis as run defenders for a while, with the potential of being better. I expect a team to take him higher though.

8. Zachh Pickens, South Carolina

Pickens has a lot of upside as he looks the part with really good traits and length. He looks like he has the potential to be a good run defender but also rushes the quarterback, which every team wants from its interior. As much as I love the potential, I don’t think he’s good enough yet and would be a risk on day 2 due to his limited pass-rushing moves and upright style which means he can get moved in the run game too.

Eagles Thoughts: He would make a lot of sense as a 4th round pick to me because he has the upside to be a starting lineman. I would consider him at the very end of day 2 and ideally at the start of day 3. I would take a shot on the upside.

Tier 5

9. Siaki Ika, Baylor

Ika is a pretty generic nose tackle who takes up a lot of room and will help a team who needs a space-eater in the middle of the defense. He doesn’t do a great deal else and doesn’t have the explosiveness or pass-rushing ability to add anything else at this point. He feels like a high-floor low-ceiling prospect

Eagles Thoughts: He would be redundant as the Eagles already have Jordan Davis, and would not be worth a pick in the first 2 rounds when I think he will go. I would consider him in the 4th as a backup to Jordan Davis.

10. Byron Young, Alabama

Young profiles as a stout run defender, but not much else after years of high-quality coaching too. What are the odds he improves that much? I see him as a good early down run defender with great length and a large frame but he lacks the explosiveness to be anything more.

Eagles Thoughts: The Eagles do need another useful run defender, so I would not mind Young being added to the defensive line rotation. He’s more of a day 3 guy to me though, so I would be looking round 4 at the earliest due to the lack of pass-rushing ability.

11. Colby Wooden, Auburn

I am not sure if Wooden is an EDGE or interior but I am ranking him here as I don’t see the flexibility to be an EDGE defender. I see him as a 3rd down pass rushing interior lineman who can win with a quick first step and fast hands. He probably won’t ever develop as a starter but he could be a handy backup with decent versatility.

Eagles Thoughts: As I have repeated, I am always after pressure from the interior and I think Wooden could bring that on 3rd down. I don’t see huge upside, but I think a round 4 or 5 pick feels right for Wooden.

12. Jaquelin Roy, LSU

Roy is an interesting player who has light feet for a big man and looks like he could be developed into a versatile DT. He played a lot of nose last year but I think he could develop into a 3 technique too. His pass rush needs a lot of work but is a strong lineman who can defend the run and flashes the ability to penetrate gaps too.

Eagles Thoughts: With Jordan Davis added last year, I’m not sure Roy is the type of player I would want the Eagles to pursue if they see him as a nose only. However, I think he could possibly play 3-technique too at the next level and think his upside makes him worth a shot around rounds 4-5.

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