Barring any surprise moves the 2017 NFL Draft has come to a close for the Philadelphia Eagles, who ended a spectacular event by drafting Washington DT, Elijah Qualls in the sixth round after a trade up.
A former teammate of Sidney Jones, Qualls stands at 6’1 and weighs 313 lbs. Surprisingly, despite his impressive size, Qualls was used all across the Washington front four in 2016. A natural 3-technique, Qualls is beyond explosive, amassing 38 tackles, 3 sacks and 5 TFL in 2016.
So, for the final time this weekend..we ask: So what does this mean for the Eagles?
Perhaps the most important aspect of this pick is the depth it finally adds at Defensive tackle. With Beau Allen’s return expected to be just ahead of the regular season, the Eagles needed someone who could come in and play at a moments notice. With Vaeao and Allen combining for a considerable amount of snaps last year, having that option behind Cox and Jernigan once again definitely opens up a lot of doors for Jim Schwartz and what’s rapidly becoming a fearsome front four.
Trenches are still the focus:
After adding Barnett in the first round, the Eagles added a second pass rusher in the sixth round. When you then factor in the replacements for Logan and Barwin, in Chris Long and Timmy Jernigan, you suddenly realize that the Eagles have gone to extensive lengths to ensure that there is enough suitable depth all along the tenacious front. If Cox or Graham were to go down, having someone versatile enough to come in and play at either DE/DT could be extremely important to the Eagles moving forward, just as their offensive line is..which currently sees 17 players of the 90-man roster.
We love that phrase and after seeing the impact Destiny Vaeao had in his rookie season, it’s easy to compare the two and wonder whether Qualls will have that same effect on the Eagles Defense. Rotation is a big part of the Jim Schwartz Defense..and if Qualls can force his way into that group, then the Eagles are going to have an extremely dangerous front four for years to come.
Of course, it also gives them that insurance policy. With Jernigan likely demanding some big money if he impresses in his final year of his rookie contract, and Beau Allen’s status up in the air..bringing in a defensive lineman who can grow with a very young Defense is the right move at this stage. With Vaeao alongside him, the two could prove to be serviceable backups for 2017..with ceilings going far beyond that with the right coaching.
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports