The Philadelphia Eagles made several moves during the 2017 offseason. The team acquried a lot of talent through free agency, but one trade could’ve determined how dominant one side of the ball could be for the Eagles in 2017.
The Eagles acquired defensive linemen Tim (formerly known as Timmy) Jernigan from the Baltimore Ravens for a pick swap in the third-round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jernigan has been a quietly productive player since being selected by the Ravens in the second-round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but he wasn’t living up to the mass potential many expected from him. The potential reason for that – Jernigan not being a fit.
The Ravens run a 3-4 defense under John Harbaugh and Dean Pees. That’s been the team’s defensive alignment since the Brian Billick era. Jernigan came from Florida State University where he lined up in a 4-3 scheme as a defensive tackle, which saw him lining up in the 3-technique. That means Jernigan was primarily lined up over the outside shoulder of an offensive guard. With the Ravens, Jernigan played 3-4 defensive end where he lined up as the 5-technique. That means Jernigan was primarily lined up over an offensive tackle.
As a successful interior rusher in college, Jernigan made an under the radar tough transition dealing with much more physical tackles in the NFL than weaker interior linemen he faced in college. Given those facts, Jernigan got better every season in the pro’s, especially 2016. Jernigan started only 11 games for the Ravens in his first two seasons, but came back in 2016 and started 15. He finished this past season with five sacks (eight combined in 2010-2014 off the bench).
Jernigan showed ability to rush the passer from the interior during his last season at FSU. He started all of the Noles 14 games his final season finishing with 63 tackles, 11 for loss, four and a half sacks and even had one pass defended.
Jernigan’s position at Florida State was defensive tackle and he rushed as the 3-technique primarily. His role with the Eagles? Play defensive tackle in a 4-3 and rush the passer from the 3-technique.
The Eagles lost a proven run-stopper in Bennie Logan this offseason. Jernigan was ProFootballFocus’ No. 1 rated run defender as a 3-4 defensive end, however, run defense in the wide-nine technique the Eagles run is an added asset rather than a necessity. Jim Schwartz demands one objective from his defensive line – relentless pressure. That’s what gives Jernigan an edge over Logan, and that’s what makes him an upgrade.
Jernigan is proving since entering the NFL that he consistently gets better every season. The pattern started in college and has continued in the NFL. That’s something the Eagles hope will not change, but if it does they’re also protected.
The Eagles gave up the rights to pick at No. 74 in the third-round for Jernigan and to move back 25 spots in that round. He’s on the last year of his rookie contract. If he doesn’t perform well enough for a possession extension? Simple, move on, but the likelihood of him not playing well with the reasons I listed above seem unlikely.
If you don’t believe me or want to see proof of my words on actual game film, I have the hook up.
Listed below is draftbreakdown.com’s live game film of Jernigan at Florida State. Take notice of his assignments, where he’s lined up on various pass-rush formations and envision his play translating to the Eagles defensive line, because those are the things he will be doing in midnight green in 2017.
If you’re a quick highlight reel type of person who values their time, I have something you can watch to see the same performances listed above.
Jernigan was a great addition by Howie Roseman. He knew last season’s sack total of 33 must be improved in order for the defense to reach it’s complete potential under Schwartz. He added Jernigan as a steal, signed Chris Long in free agency, and then drafted Derek Barnett in the first-round.
The Eagles defensive line is poised to be the identity of the team in 2017, and Jernigan will be a huge reason why.
Mandatory Photo Credits: Tom Gilligan/USA Today Sports