Eagles Defensive Line Depth Could Mean Big Season for Brandon Graham
Many people think one of the strongest areas of the Eagles football team is their defensive line. With the first-round addition of Derek Barnett and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, take a look around the NFC and it’s hard to think there is much deeper defensive line in the conference.
Barnett's arrival gives the Eagles plenty of talent on the defensive line: Barnett, Jernigan, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox. Add Chris Long as a pass-rushing defensive end when the Eagles are in their pass defense packages, and Vinny Curry, who the Eagles hope is healthy and can have a bounce-back season, after a down year in 2016.
"I think [DE] Vinny Curry also had an outstanding training camp," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "He was very good against the run and pass. He was as productive as I've seen him. He was not on the ground as much as he's been. I think he's a much improved player. I think Vinny has shown – and again, the proof is in the course of the season."
But let’s get to the real bottom line – the Eagles wanted desperately to upgrade the pass rush of the defensive line, and the biggest benefactor of the addition of Barnett, Jernigan and Long will be Graham.
Where this helps Graham is that he has a great chance to get more one-on-one blocking. Offensive coordinators now have tougher choices. Often, teams had double-team blocking on Graham, so his 5.5 sacks weren't that impressive. With Barnett, Cox, Jernigan around, expect Graham’s sack numbers to grow this season.