Eagles Training Camp Preview: Something special is brewing within the interior defensive line

Eagles jordan davis
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 30: Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis (90) rushes during the game between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles on October 30, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Our training camp preview rolls on and one of the most important groups to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2023 now moves to the spotlight.

Philadelphia’s front office has never been shy of drafting defensive tackles in the first round of drafts. In fact, over the last decade, only the wide receiver position has been used more in the first round than tackle. Over the last few years though, the importance of the position has been shown more than ever.

With two top-15 picks from Georgia now in tow and a new defensive coordinator at the helm, there are plenty of things to keep an eye on once practices begin.

Let’s take a look at some of them from the defensive tackle spot.

DTs on Roster: Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, Fletcher Cox, Milton Williams, Kentavius Street, Moro Ojomo, Marlon Tuipulotu, Noah Elliss

Biggest Questions Heading into Camp

Can Jordan Davis develop into a three-down player?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 07: Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis (90) looks on during training camp on August 7, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Jalen Carter may be the shiny new toy in Philadelphia, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that his current and former teammate may hold the key to the team’s success in 2023. Jordan Davis battled injury and ineffectiveness in 2022 but has come into his second year with a positive attitude and in better shape. With so many Georgia Bulldogs on the roster, familiarity is something that should help Davis reach his full potential.

That being said, the biggest key for the Eagles’ defense is to make sure Davis becomes a three-down player. If he can develop some pass-rushing skills, the team can prolong Fletcher Cox’s career but also allow for a stronger rotation on the entire line.

Davis is a major question going into 2023.

How much of a loss is Javon Hargrave going to be?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 18: Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Tackle Javon Hargrave (93) heads to the locker room after the first half during the game between the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles on October 18, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Not a lot of people were surprised when Javon Hargrave left in free agency. The defensive tackle put up double-digit sacks last season and was due for a lucrative extension. His absence though creates a massive hole in the roster that the entire defensive tackle unit will need to fill. More snaps for Carter and Davis should help in several ways, but Milton Williams will be the key to if Philadelphia can continue to be a top pass-rushing unit.

Milton Williams has yet to receive a large number of snaps but has been a very efficient pass rusher. Williams had four sacks last season with 36 tackles. If he can double those numbers in 2023 or improve against the run, he could be looking at a pro-bowl season, as well as the Eagles adding to their franchise-record number in sacks last year.

How much more does Fletcher Cox have left in the tank?

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) celebrates a sack during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

We’ve mentioned how Davis’ development could help Fletcher Cox prolong his career. In the end, though, the former first-round pick only has a few years left of being a dynamic player. Cox may have tallied seven sacks last season, but as the de facto leader of the clubhouse now, he will need to be consistent on both sides of the football.

If he can lower his snap count but keep his effectiveness, the Eagles’ defensive line could be even better than they were last season.

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Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire