Eagles could be set to lean on Josh Sweat heavily in 2020

Selected in the 4th round of the 2018 NFL draft, Josh Sweat was mostly projected as a developmental in the NFL. Being a former 5-star athlete out of high school with a once brutal injury that almost ended in amputation, there were multiple questions whether he would ever be able to keep up to pace in the big leagues.

In his rookie season, Sweat played 68 snaps. He recorded 1 QB hit and 1 solo tackle. Most of those snaps came in the blowout loss to New Orleans. But year 2 started to show the beginning of a transformation for Sweat.

The talent has always been there. Standing at 6’5, 251 LBs at the combine, the FSU product exploded off the charts.

Entering the 2019 season, Sweat knew he had to gain weight and build mass to really be able to stand up NFL offensive linemen.

“Coming out of my rookie year I know I needed to get stronger, and I needed to gain some weight. I think I’ve put the work into it. You can’t stay the same in this league. You have to get better and you have to know where to put your hands and do it the right way every time”

Josh Sweat entering the 2019 season

He did just that, putting on 15 additional LBs since the combine and was up to 265. Coaches took notice prior to in camp

“He’s strong as can be. He played two-gap at Florida State. I mean, you look at him, he looks like a 400-meter sprinter. He was legs wide, squared up, doing those kinds of things. He has some of the strongest hands of all our defensive linemen, which then you start putting him into situations where he can use his speed a little bit more. It’s a bonus that a lot of other guys don’t have. He’s very strong. We feel strongly about him stopping the run too.”

Jim Schwartz on Josh Sweat in camp 2019

Amping up the production

With increased playing time came a terrific response in production. Josh played five times the snaps in his rookie season with 371, distributed on 91 run snaps and 274 pass rushes. From week 11 onward, he usually played > 40% of the defensive snaps.

In total, he managed to produce 4 sacks, 10 QB hits, 13 hurries, 15 run stops, and 7 tackles for loss.

Per PFF, he scored pass-rush productivity (measured pressure created per snap basis) of 6.5, good for 2nd of players currently on the team:

PlayerRush SnapsTotal pressures Pass rush productivity
Brandon Graham482677.9
Josh Sweat247276.5
Derek Barnett425476.4
Fletcher Cox497566.0

For a rotational player in his second year, and really only his first year of real playing time, those are incredibly impressive numbers.

Film room

The first game I wanted to go through was week 2 against Atlanta. It wasn’t the most productive game for Josh, recording only 1 pressure and 2 tackles, but his play was really impressive:

Second was his game against the New York Jets in week 5, where he recorded the first sack of his career. He ended the game with a sack, 2 QB hits, a hurried throw, and 3 runs stops:

Fast forward to week 9, and Sweat showed some great improvements in explosiveness off the line with his inside arm stab and club-rip move:

Finally, against the Cowboys, he displayed exactly why Schwartz thinks highly of him and the athleticism that he brings, evident on the quick inside stunts and ability to keep rushing despite getting chip blocked by TEs:

Taking yet another leap in year 3??

Going from a super raw, injury questioned, slow off the line edge rusher to becoming a fast, explosive, and more developed pass rusher, Sweat took huge strides from year one to year two.

If he continues the learning curve that he showed, especially at the end of the 2019 season, he may very well be suited for >40 % of the defensive snaps every week. Is he ready?

“I’m ready to get it going. I’m ready to play. When I’m out there, I know I have to make plays. This is my time.”

Josh Sweat on becoming a veteran and being counted on

Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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