It is now only a little under a week until the Eagles open the 2018 season at the NovaCare Complex. I looked at the offensive side of the ball a couple of weeks ago and now it’s time to look at the Super Bowl Champions projected roster for defense. This defense was a key component to last year’s championship year and has remained quite intact. Some may even say it improved.
*In order of the projected depth chart
Defensive Line (10)
This position group was the best in the league last year as it has great depth. That depth only increased this past offseason as they added Haloti Ngata (Free Agent Signing), Michael Bennett (Trade), Bruce Hector (Rookie Free Agent), and Josh Sweat (Fourth-Round Pick). This also comes with the loss of Vinny Curry and Beau Allen, who both moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Plus, among many national writers, they are expecting a strong sophomore campaign from last year’s first-rounder, Derek Barnett.
The most surprising player I have making it here is as mentioned above, rookie free agent Bruce Hector. He makes it over the likes of Destiny Vaeao and Aziz Shittu. Hector had an okay minicamp but I expect him to tear it up at training camp to secure a spot on the Eagles roster.
This is without a doubt the Eagles weakest group. And it only got weaker this past offseason as Mychal Kendricks was cut. Fifth-year linebacker, Corey Nelson was signed away from the Broncos to replace Kendricks’ snaps. Nathan Gerry and the versatile Kamu Grugier-Hill will be depth pieces that play most of their snaps on special teams. Both of them are good special teams players.
There was a lot of questions if Ronald Darby or Jalen Mills were still going to be on the Eagles roster going into next season. But here we are on July 21st and they both are still Eagles. The speculation was that they would be traded due to the Eagles young depth at corner and the need of an extra pick during last spring’s draft.
Speaking of last spring’s draft, the Eagles selected Avonte Maddox out of Pittsburgh in the fourth-round. He is a small corner (5’9”) that plays much bigger than his small structure. He is a darkhorse candidate to end up becoming the starting slot corner at the end of the season.
There is also free agent acquisition De’Vante Bausby. He had some first-team reps in minicamp which he excelled at but would most likely just end up being a depth piece.
Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are pure class both on and off the field for the Birds. Plus their play is exceptional. They will have young bucks, Tre Sullivan and Jermy Reaves behind them. Sullivan is a second-year player who spent last year on the Super Bowl Champions practice squad. Howie Roseman, Eagles general manager, brought in Jeremy Reaves this past offseason. Reaves is an undrafted free agent out of South Alabama. Chris Maragos would also look to inject his veteran presence after coming off a torn ACL last year. Maragos will take back his star role in special teams as he is one of the best in the NFL.
N.F.I. List (1)
Timmy Jernigan, DT
Timmy Jernigan got surgery to repair his herniated disc back in May and still has been nursing it. It is a tough injury and it will cause him to miss some time. He is expected to miss the first six weeks of the season. He will be back in his starting role next to Fletcher Cox when he fully recovers.