To say the Eagles defensive tackle depth is light would be an understatement. As of right now, it consists of Fletcher Cox, Bruce Hector, Anthony Rush, and Albert Huggins. The last three are former UDFA’s and the last two were signed this week. Injuries to Malik Jackson, Timmy Jernigan, and Hassan Ridgeway have devoured the position, but it’s left one man with a unique opportunity.
Bruce Hector is no stranger to this Eagles team. He originally signed with the Birds in 2018 as a UDFA out of South Florida. While Treyvon Hester would be the undrafted defensive tackle to snatch the spotlight, the 6’2, 296 lbs, DT still played in 82 defensive snaps, amassing 2 tackles, 1 QB hit and 0.5 sacks.
After an offseason under the radar, Hector was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for Safety Rudy Ford, but in a twist of fate, both players are now on the Eagles roster…and both could be in line to make an impact.
It wouldn’t be the first time that the Eagles have turned to former UDFA’s in a time of desperation, either. Josh Adams, Cameron Johnston, Corey Clement, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Trey Burton are just a few names that have sprung surprises for the Eagles in recent years, but its a trend that goes much deeper than those who flash.
The Eagles have a reputation for developing undrafted talents in positional groups that are already stacked on talent. Not only does this enable the players, who may have slipped through the cracks for a variety of reasons, to grow without immediate pressure, but it creates a pathway through Fipp’s special teams unit where they can impact the team from day one. Hector may not be a household name, but he’s been around the team long enough to take advantage of an opportunity like this.
“He’s a guy that obviously has been in our system. Knows the defense.” Doug Pederon said earlier this week. “Knows the front. If given — I know he’s excited, if given the opportunity. It’s something that you can see him in practice and he’s been talking to the guys about it, like, “Man, hopefully this is my time,” and if he does [play], he’ll do well for us, but just, again, it gives us the added depth we need at that spot until we get some guys back.”
Making an impact will be no easy task, however. The Bills boast the seventh-best rushing offense in the NFL in terms of yards per game and the Eagles come into this matchup with a lot of outside noise. Maybe a fresh face on the defensive line will help re-invigorate that ‘underdog’ energy, or maybe Hector’s desire to stay on the final-53 will spark some defensive line production.
Either way, after a quiet first tenure with the Eagles, his second has the potential to follow a very different narrative. The question is, who’s writing the story?
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports