PFF: Eagles’ Defensive Line One of League’s Best
Do the Eagles have one of the best defensive lines in the league? Pro Football Focus thinks so, ranking it the second best unit among all 32 NFL teams entering the 2020 season.
It seems that PFF likes the depth and the top-end talent that the Eagles defensive line has entering this season.
The Philadelphia Eagles have had one of the strongest defensive lines in football for years — not just blessed with top-end talent, but with incredible depth. That doesn't look likely to change any time soon, and they have added multiple pieces over this past offseason.
The Eagles’ D-line acquired Javon Hargrave in free agency and added Malik Jackson, who missed all of last season to their interior line. Brandon Graham remains one of the best at pressuring the quarterback and will hope former first-round pick Derek Barnett follows in his foot-steps and be more of a factor this year.
Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham remain and are likely still the unit's best two players, though Graham's 2019 PFF grade and pressure total were each the lowest he's had in a season since 2015; he may be starting to show signs of slowing down at 32 years old. Graham still notched an impressive 67 total pressures and graded well against both the run and pass, so he will likely be a strong starter in 2020. Cox continues to be the best power-rusher in the NFL, generating more pressures over the past two seasons than any interior player not named Aaron Donald.
Derek Barnett’s playing time increased last season, even with some time missed due to injuries, but he didn’t take a corresponding step forward as a player. Alongside Cox inside, the team added former Steeler Javon Hargrave, giving them an incredibly powerful interior duo. Hargrave proved last season that he could step into an expanded role when Stephon Tuitt went down, generating career-bests in PFF grade (83.4), pass-rushing grade (76.9) and total pressures (49).
Malik Jackson barely featured last season but will hope to prove he can be a significant addition and a situational pass-rusher, while the door remains open for Josh Sweat to continue to earn himself a larger role, particularly if Barnett isn’t able to make strides in his development. Sweat notched 27 total pressures last season on 274 pass-rush snaps.
Another name to keep an eye on will be Josh Sweat, a former fourth-round pick, who will likely step into Vinny Curry's situational pass-rushing role. In limited action last season, Sweat had 27 pressures in 274 attempts.