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April 16, 2018

Eagles 2018 NFL Draft preview: Defensive tackle

Leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, we'll be taking a look at each of the Philadelphia Eagles' positional groups. We'll determine if the Eagles are likely to select a player at that position with one of their six picks, as well as note some players who make sense. Today we'll look at defensive tackle.

Previous draft preview positional analysis

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end
Offensive tackle | Interior offensive line | Defensive end

The Eagles have their defensive tackle starters set for at least the next couple of years in Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan. They also replaced outgoing free agent Beau Allen with veteran Haloti Ngata, and will be returning Destiny Vaeao and Elijah Qualls. A look at the Eagles' depth chart at DT.

 DTFletcher Cox Destiny Vaeao Winston Craig Aziz Shittu
 DT Tim Jernigan Haloti NgataElijah Qualls  

In 2017, the Eagles are in good shape at defensive tackle, but they could certainly look to add talent to the rotation with the long-term in mind.

Here are a few defensive tackles who could make sense for the Birds.

Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan (6'1, 292)

In 2017, Hurst had 59 tackles (13 for loss) 5.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. Those numbers aren't great, but make no mistake, Maurice Hurst is really good player. He's quick, fast, he sheds blocks, and he constantly makes plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage. 

A highlight reel from 2017:

At 6'2, 280, Hurst is far from a prototypical defensive tackle. Geno Atkins fell all the way to the fourth round in 2010, and Aaron Donald to the 13th overall pick in 2014, despite being clearly more talented than many of the players taken before him. 

His size, along with a heart condition, could cause Hurst to drop to the Eagles at pick No. 32.

Round projection: 1-2

Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech (6'3, 329)

Settle was one of two front seven players named as Combine "losers" by Bucky Brooks of

The big-bodied defensive tackle wasn't expected to blow up the combine, but his disappointing numbers will raise some concerns about his athleticism at the next level. Settle labored through a 5.37-second 40-yard dash and posted minimal measurements in the jumps (23.5-inch vertical jump and 8-foot broad jump). He followed it up with a disappointing workout that highlighted his marginal change-of-direction skills and burst. Settle's tape suggests he has the potential to dominate as a top-50 pick, but the sub-par performance at the combine could force evaluators to pause before giving him a second-round grade.

Settle's Combine spider chart is indeed bad:

Previously, I had Settle as a potential first round target of the Eagles at pick No. 32. While his Combine certainly wasn't impressive, as in, he didn't help his cause much, how high would one expect a 329-pound guy to jump? (329 pounds = 1.03 Notebooms.)

At Virginia Tech, Settle was a penetrating force, causing disruption in opposing backfields, and was a great run stuffer. Here's a highlight reel from 2016, where you can see he's much more athletic than his measurables would indicate: 

In 2017, Settle had 36 tackles 4 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Those aren't eye-popping numbers, but Settle's game tape is more impressive than his stats or his Combine numbers. If the Eagles traded back, I could see Settle being more of a value in the second or third round.

Round projection: 2-3

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P.J. Hall, DT, Sam Houston State (6'1, 310)

Hall put up incredible stats in college:

P.J. Hall Tackles (TFL) Sacks FF-FR-INT Blocked kicks 
 201493 (24) 12 4-0-1 
 201575 (19) 11 1-1-2 
 201656 (24.5) 13 3-0-0 
 201760 (19) 1-0-1 
 TOTAL 284 (86.5)42  9-1-414 

14 blocked kicks! Lol.

Oh, and he put up explosive measurables at his pro day: 

Oh, and the background music in his highlight reel makes me want to play Madden 2003:

Hall dominated his competition at a lower level of football in college, but his combination of strength and quickness should translate to the NFL.

Round projection: 3

Kentavius Street, DE/DT, North Carolina State (6'2, 280)

During the 2017 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected Sidney Jones, who had ruptured his Achilles during the pre-draft process, knowing that he likely wouldn't play at all during the 2017 season. He was a pick for 2018 and beyond.

In 2018, a player who might make sense as a draft-and-stash guy would be Kentavius Street, who tore his ACL while working out for the Giants a week ago.

Street is an interesting prospect from the Eagles' perspective, as a player who can play inside and outside, much like Michael Bennett. Street's best attribute is his strength. Here he is squatting 700 pounds, which is ridiculous:

Unlike with Jones a year ago, drafting and stashing Street won't take a second round pick. He can likely be had with a sixth- or seventh-round pick.

Round projection: 6-7

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