Why does Joe Ostman Keep Coming Up?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - While many Eagles fans dream of Ziggy Ansah taking a prove-it deal to play fewer snaps than Derek Barnett, Howie Roseman has other ideas when it comes to what essentially with be the fourth man in the defensive end rotation for the 2019 season.
The Eagles executive vice president of football operations can't keep gushing about Joe Ostman, the second-year scout-team standout who arrived in Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan in 2018.
And the praise is always volunteered.
This time Roseman brought up Ostman on a Philadelphia-area radio station despite topics ranging from Carson Wentz to DeSean Jackson and the impact of potentially losing Chris Long to retirement.
“He is the quintessential Philadelphia player,” Roseman said directing the conversation toward Ostman, who will be allowed to participate in the team's rookie camp which begins Friday and runs through the weekend. “He works so hard and has athletic tools in his body."
Roseman had already brought up Ostman after the draft ended last month when running down the Eagles' situation on the defensive front.
"When you look at the transition he’s made with his body just in the offseason. I know a lot of the coaching staff is excited to see him in his second year,” Roseman said.
It was the coach himself -- Doug Pederson -- who first put Ostman on the radar to the masses during the playoffs last season.
"I'm going to tell you, Joe Ostman, he's a practice squad player, he was [Bears LB] Khalil Mack last week, he's been [Rams DT] Aaron Donald, and he gives us great looks and really that's where it starts," the coach claimed.
When 973espn.com mentioned Ostman to offensive coordinator Mike Groh after the Pederson shout-out, the praise was turned up a notch higher.
"I'm glad you asked me about Joe," Groh said while smiling. "He has busted his tail all season long. He's a better player because of the way he approaches practice each and every day. Embraces the number or jersey we put on him and like you said, we've played some excellent pass rushers over the stretch of games here. He's usually been that guy, whether it be Aaron Donald or Khalil Mack or Jadeveon Clowney or J.J. Watt, all these really great pass rushers that we've played against.
"Joe has helped prepare the offensive line for that challenge."
Those who were playing closer attention already knew that Ostman was quickly becoming known around the NovaCare Complex for his relentless work ethic, one which produced 13 sacks and a mind-numbing 19 1/2 tackles for loss during his senior season with the Chippewas.
Ostman quickly caught the eye of former Philadelphia defensive line coach Chris Wilson last summer but DE was probably the deepest position the Eagles had back in training camp with proven veterans Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Long, as well as Barnett, the team's 2017 first-round pick, and 2018 fourth-rounder Josh Sweat.
The Eagles, though, weren't about to give up on Ostman, who landed on the practice squad for the regular season where he developed into the new scout-team version of Steven Means, the high-energy veteran who was known for pushing the offensive line and a player Lane Johnson has credited with helping turn him into perhaps the best right tackle in football.
"He works so hard," Wilson told 973espn.com when discussing Ostman. "I really think he has a chance to be a good pass rusher in this league. He's just going to outwork a lot of guys."
Despite that evidence, most believe Ostman will have a tough time leapfrogging pedigree on the depth chart -- in this case two home-grown fourth-round picks -- Sweat and rookie Shareef Miller -- as well as a lengthy former third-round pick in Daeshon Hall.
Remember at 6-7 last season and needing to win out with a murderer's row of pass rushers on the horizon, starting with Donald and moving to Clowney and Watt, Ryan Kerrigan and finally Mack and the Saints' Cam Jordan, the probability that the Eagles would even reach New Orleans and the divisional round was inconsequential.
Ostman helped shift those odds significantly so don't race to bet against him this time.
"It's been really helpful to study such great pass rushers," Ostman said when discussing his work last season. "It makes you work on things that have made them successful in order to give the guys good looks. I'm happy to help the offensive line and from my standpoint, those guys are so good, it helps me."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen