The question on everyone’s lips right now is ‘how will the Eagles replace Chris Long?’ I dove into this in greater detail in an article linked below, but what it really comes down to is the talent within the organization and an ability to prove themselves this offseason.
Whether it’s fourth-round selection from one year ago, Josh Sweat, one perhaps one from this year in Shareef Miller, the Eagles are going to rightfully start expecting results from their investments.
There’s naturally a lot of intrigue surrounding Miller, but the Penn State alum is still a little raw in his skillset and will take some coaching at the NFL level to develop some pass-rushing moves to add to his arsenal. It just so happens that OTA’s take place this week, giving us a firm indicator of his progress and how Phillip Daniels opts to work with him.
Competing alongside the duo will be Joe Ostman. The former Central Michigan pass-rusher had a great preseason for the Eagles last year after going undrafted, rallying to amass 9 tackles. At 6’3, 259 lbs, Ostman tallied 45.5 tackles for loss and 26 sacks during his collegiate career and his development on the practice squad has left the coaching staff purring. It’s going to take a big step up if Ostman makes the roster as the third defensive end on either side of the trench.
The defensive end battle will be a hard-fought contest that will likely come down to training camp and preseason. All players are in a position to play a factor in the upcoming season, but it’s the size of that role that will be dependent on these next few months.
The signing of Zach Brown may well go down as one of the most underrated moves of the offseason. An ILB in Washington’s 3-4 scheme, the transition to a 4-3 should give Brown more room to roam, which is exactly what he’s best at when he’s not shooting gaps and swallowing up running backs for breakfast.
Given that the Eagles are running ‘NICKEL and DIME’ looks far more frequently, the Birds’ should have more than enough depth to enter the upcoming season. Special teams ace L.J Fort could carve out a bigger role, while the returning Paul Worrilow adds a sense of stability at the ‘MIKE’ spot.
Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry will be in the thick of it once more, with both climbing the ladder successfully during their time in Philadelphia. KGH has led the Eagles in special teams tackles for two years in a row while Gerry almost seems primed to grow into the mold of Malcolm Jenkins, under-the-radar.
The wildcard that many eyes will be honed in on this offseason though, is T.J Edwards. It’s surprising that Edwards wasn’t drafted, especially given his level of production. With 112 tackles as a senior, he finished his career with four-years of 80+ stops. In his last two years, he combined for 22.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 7 picks and 16 pass breakups? Edwards has a real shot at making the final 53-man roster. But he’s not the only UDFA worth keeping an eye on.
At 6’3, 239 lbs, Alfieri joins T.J Edwards as one of the prize pickings in this year’s crop. With 165 tackles, 26.5 TFL, 14 sacks and 2 picks in 50 games, Alfieri solidified himself as a reliable starter during his time with the Cardinal, who amassed 37 tackles and 3.5 sacks in his final year.
OTA’s will be our first real chance to catch a glimpse of a linebacker position that has undergone quite the transformation since losing Jordan Hicks. But is it in good hands?