Once Michael Bennett was traded to the Patriots and Chris Long retired, Eagles suddenly looked thin at defensive end relative to the massive depth they’ve had over the years.
Questions starting early in the offseason who the 4th defensive end would be, as Schwartz is known for rotating a lot on the DL, especially keeping a pair of fresh ends on the field. Graham and Barnett are finally back healthy and locks up the first string rotation.
Eagles will seemingly rely on either 2nd-year FSU athletic freak Josh Sweat, or 3rd year former 3rd round pick Daeshon Hall out of A&M to pair with Curry in second-string rotation.
For now, it seems as if Eagles should be just fine:
Hall was signed in the middle of the 2018 season and had to transition from a 3-4 edge rusher to a 4-3 end. In the process, he added 30 pounds, and so far is impressing the coaching staff:
“… (Hall) had a really good spring and he’s stacked a good training camp on top of that. He has good speed, he’s long, he fits our stuff that way, and he’s really been tough. He plays physical football for us and that’s what we are looking for”Eagles DC Jim Schwartz
He leads the league in sacks (3) and QB hits (4), and further has 8 tackles. He tops all defensive linemen in PFF score, and even more impressively is 2nd among ALL defensive players with an insane score of 93.
While stats in the preseason can be misleading as it’s usually backups playing backups, the film shows promising moves:
An important thing to hype up is Hall’s physical profile and in particular his arm length, measuring in a ridiculous 95th percentile.
His athletical comparisons? Chandler Jones with 91.6 % match and Aldon Smith 83.8 %. Those two combined for 124.5 sacks in 137 starts.
Sweat has all the physical tools to be a dominant player in the league. After almost losing his leg in a disaster injury in 2014, he posted these numbers pre-draft in 2018:
Problem with Sweat at FSU and in last years preseason games were:
1) A very slow get-off as he reacted to OL movement and not the ball
2) Lacked coordination in pass rush moves, especially punching before bending, which results in often getting washed upfield.
He has always been able to move blockers around, which has translated well to the NFL. However, in preseason week 1 vs Titans, he showed nice improvement in pass rush coordination versus All-Pro LT Taylor Lewan:
Furthermore, while only playing 20 snaps versus the Jags last week, he displayed a much better get-off, reacting to the ball instead of the OL and seemed to be a step ahead of 2018 Sweat on each snap:
Sit back, relax, let the youth take over
Now, going into week 3 of the preseason, things are suddenly looking much more promising for the Eagles, not only in terms of 4th, but also 5th DE.
Sweat and Hall will keep developing, hopefully into significant players for the Eagles in the 2019 season.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports