‘Rich Man Problems’ Lead Eagles to Josh Sweat
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Josh Sweat is about 2019 and beyond, a 21-year-old luxury the Philadelphia Eagles could afford.
Other than quarterbacks, perhaps no position on the roster is as well fortified as defensive end where Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett and Steven Means have been joined by three-time Pro Bowl selection Michael Bennett, who was acquired in a trade earlier this offseason.
Asked why Philadelphia would bring a young player into what essentially is a murderer's row on the edge, Howie Roseman smiled:
"That's what we call ‘rich man problems.’ We're excited about that," the Eagles' executive VP of football operations said. "That's how we're going to build this. We're always going to put priority on the lines. You can never have too many, and I think Coach [Doug Pederson] and his staff showed that throughout the season. Depth is important in this league, and also grooming players. When you look at the draft, the draft isn't about filling needs, it's about the long-term interests of your football team."
In other words, this pick was about the future and a nod to the fact how quickly things can change in the NFL. Long (33), Bennett (32), and Graham (30) are now all on the wrong side of 30 and the latter is wrangling over a potential big-money extension.
Sweat was once a five-star recruit in Virginia before a serious knee injury threatened his football future. He rebounded, however, to enjoy three productive seasons at Florida State, getting to the quarterback 14 1/2 times.
"We can only speak to our medical, and we have a lot of trust in our medical staff, our doctor, Dr. [Peter] DeLuca has done a great job for us for a long time," Roseman said. "You know, when he tells us that the guy's ready to go, we rely on them and we trust that. Then it goes down to the evaluation of player, and we were very excited to get this guy into the system."
Sweat is also excited and believes the knee issue is in the rear-view mirror.
"I came in [to Florida State] and I sat out early because I got hurt at the end of the [high school] season. So I just rehabbed it and got back out there in the summer," Sweat explained during a conference call. "I might not have been all the way back, but I was pretty darn close. But as far as [if] I am a better player [now], I think I am a lot better than I was in high school. I don’t think that I took advantage of all the opportunities that I should have, but I’m much smarter, I’m much more explosive and I’m much faster. I think I’m a much better play and I’ll continue to grow."
One reason Sweat left Tallahassee early was in an effort to get into a scheme that better suits his talents off the edge and Jim Schwartz's aggressive scheme which often allows the edge players to pin their ears back in a Wide-9 technique is music to a young pass rusher's ears.
"I just felt like I would be in a better situation in the NFL, as far as position-wise," Sweat said. "I played a lot of four-technique and stuff like that, and I was way undersized for that. I don’t really have a problem with it, but I didn’t really get a chance to showcase what I needed to. ... “I need to get on the edge, that’s what I do best.”
Joe Douglas agrees.
"The thing that jumped out first watching him was his first-step takeoff," the Eagles personnel chief said. "This is a guy that can really gain ground on his first two steps as an edge rusher. So he really pressures the outside shoulders and blockers."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen