NFL Combine: Defensive linemen the Eagles should watch?

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PALO ALTO, CA – OCTOBER 02: Oregon Ducks defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (5) dejected walks off the field after the college football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Stanford Cardinal on October 2, 2021, at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

It’s that time of year again Eagles fans! We are just a couple of weeks away from the start of the 2022 NFL Combine.

Careers have been made, destroyed, or not affected at all during this tumultuous week for hundreds of athletes.

So as we get closer to one of the most anticipated workouts in Indianapolis, let’s take a look at the defensive line that the Philadelphia Eagles could be looking at a little more closely. As we take the turn to the defensive side of the ball, almost every main position group has a specific need for the Eagles which makes the Combine that much more important.

Players to Watch

David Ojabo – Michigan

Ojabo is probably the most popular player tied to the Eagles at this point. He had an excellent career at Michigan and while many question whether his production was due to playing with Heisman candidate, Aiden Hutchinson, Ojabo has all the intangibles to be an excellent first-round pick.

He is a raw overall prospect, but the potential and intangibles make for a very intriguing prospect. A good combine could even keep Ojabo going inside the top-15, but it’s quite easy to see how the Eagles would love his overall potential skillset.

George Karlaftis – Purdue

Karlaftis is a pretty difficult prospect to figure out. In 2019, it was easy to see him be a top 10-pick in the draft. However, he got hurt for most of 2020 and wasn’t the same dominant player in 2021. He does have some potential as a balanced defensive lineman but has really struggled against the run. It’s not really fair to judge based on one game, but when Purdue played Ohio State, Karlaftis was heavily schemed against. He didn’t look good at all in that matchup which showed his true weaknesses as a player.

Karlaftis is certainly a first-round prospect. The question will be his overall health and intangibles during the combine.

Kayvon Thibodeaux – Oregon

It’s something that might not happen, but there have been plenty of questions surrounding the mindset of Thibodeaux that could have him fall into the later top 15 of the draft. It’s difficult to see him fall to 15, however, there are plenty of needs across the higher draft picks, and there’s only one roster that could eventually take him.

If the New York Giants end up passing on Thibodeaux for offensive line help (something certainly possible) then it’s not out of the realm of possibility for the Oregon stud to fall to 15. And if he’s able to come to Philadelphia, it’s the equivalent of Randy Moss falling in the draft. A future All-Pro falling to 15 would be an absolute dream for Philadelphia.

Senior Bowl Standout

Jermaine Johnson – FSU

Johnson was unequivocally the best player on the field during the senior bowl. He was so good, he didn’t even play in the final couple of days, a message that means he knew he could absolutely go in round one off his performance.

A solid combine and intangibles could put Johnson into the top 15 due to his overall size and speed. It’s not a stretch for the Eagles to fall in love with a player like this.

SEC Issues

DeMarvin Leal – Texas A&M

A lot of people questioned how dominant Leal could be going into the 2022 season. Turns out, his overall tape wasn’t the greatest. He was manhandled repeatedly by better tackles like Cross or Neal, and he wasn’t the top player you expect to go in round one.

A strong combine will certainly help his overall chances and be able to secure his spot in the top 20, but there is only so much that intangibles will be able to help when the production hasn’t backed it up.

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire