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July 11, 2024

Eagles 2024 training camp preview: Interior defensive line

What can Eagles fans expect from Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis this season?

Eagles NFL
042024JalenCarterJordanDavis Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis

Over the next couple of weeks (basically whenever there isn't other news to cover), we'll take a look at every player on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, and how they fit with the team heading into training camp. Today we'll look at the interior defensive linemen.

Previous training camp previews

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end
Offensive tackle | Guard | Center | EDGE

The depth chart:

DT Jalen Carter Thomas Booker  
NT Jordan Davis Marlon Tuipulotu P.J. Mustipher
DT Milton Williams Moro Ojomo
Gabe Hall

Jalen Carter

Carter was a finalist for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He finished second, behind Houston's Will Anderson:

There was a point in the season when Carter looked like the likely Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he fizzled down the stretch, while Anderson finished with a bang. Conditioning has been cited as a reason for Carter's less impressive close to the season.

Still, Carter's immense talent was obvious during his rookie season, and he finished with 33 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. It's rare for interior defensive linemen to put up big numbers as rookies, as we've documented here in the past. But just to show that point again, below is a table of the four interior defensive linemen who were named to the All-Pro team in 2023, and their stats in their rookie seasons:

Player Tackles Sacks FF 
Aaron Donald, Rams 48 
Chris Jones, Chiefs 28 
Justin Madubuike, Ravens 19 
Dexter Lawrence, Giants 38 2.5 

If Carter can keep his head on straight and if he can get into peak physical shape, he has All-Pro talent and a bright future in the NFL.

Jordan Davis

After injuries slowed his rookie season in 2022, Davis' second NFL season in 2023 started off with a bang against the Patriots. He had a forced fumble, a half sack, and he clogged up running lanes all afternoon against a Pats offense that wanted to be run-heavy. His strong play continued through roughly the first half of the season. 

In eight of their first nine games, the Eagles held their opponents to under 100 rushing yards. They were allowing an average of 66.7 rushing yards per game, best in the NFL. Part of that was because of Davis. Thereafter, they became one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, giving up at least 100 rushing yards to each of their last 9 opponents, and an average of 142 rushing yards allowed per game.

Davis played poorly in the second half of the season, largely because he was out of shape. He said during OTAs in May that he is in better shape than he was last year, crediting his diet, “cutting out the juice and s***.” He said that he currently weighs around 350 pounds, and added that he weighed more last year but didn’t specify how much. If he was substantially heavier than 350 pounds last year, then he was out of shape. On the one hand, it's fine and good that he's in better shape. On the other hand, he should've just been in better shape last year, and surely the Eagles don't even want him up around 350 pounds now.

Davis is a size-athleticism freak of nature, but it's not going to matter if he's only effective in September and October. His conditioning will be a storyline throughout the summer and into the season.

Milton Williams

After a strong close to the 2022 season, Williams felt like a potential breakout candidate in 2023, but his production was disappointing. 

 Milton WilliamsTacklesTFL Sacks QB hits 
2021 30 
2022 36 
2023 42 0.5 

Williams had some games when he played very well against the run. For example:

That's valuable, however, it's hard not to look at the stat sheet and be underwhelmed by his 0.5 sacks and 7 QB hits. 

Williams recently turned 25 years old and he has at least proven so far that he can be a good role player along the defensive line, but the Eagles need more from him as a pass rusher in his fourth season.

Interestingly, the Eagles got contract extensions done this offseason with a number of their core players, like A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Landon Dickerson, and Jordan Mailata. Williams is in the final year of his rookie deal, but there have not yet been any signals that he and the Eagles have worked on getting an extension done.

Marlon Tuipulotu

Tuipulotu is heading into the final year of his rookie contract. In 2023, he had 22 tackles and 2 sacks, one of which came in garbage time against the Giants. He played in 15 games (179 snaps), and was a healthy scratch for 3. He'd have more value to the Eagles if he could serve as a backup nose tackle, and he did get 33 snaps at the nose in 2023, but he has not played well when asked to anchor there.

Still, the Eagles are light on iDL depth, and Tuipulotu's roster spot should be safe as long as he's competent in camp and the preseason games.

Moro Ojomo

Ojomo was a 2023 seventh-round pick. He had a strong first couple of preseason games for the Eagles before he left preseason game No. 2 on a cart. During the regular season, he appeared in 8 games, playing 68 snaps, 37 of which came in garbage time in a blowout loss to the Giants Week 18.

Ojomo was one of the youngest players in the 2023 draft class, at 21 years of age. His rookie season was probably more of a developmental one. He'll have a chance to continue to grow into a rotational role along the D-line in his second season.

P.J. Mustipher

Mustipher was an undrafted rookie free agent in 2023 out of Penn State who was originally signed by the Broncos. He did not make the Broncos' roster out of training camp, but landed on their practice squad. In December the Saints poached Mustipher off of the Broncos' practice squad, and he finished the season on New Orleans' 53-man roster. He appeared in 4 games, played a total of 42 snaps, and made 4 tackles.

Mustipher was mainly a nose tackle at Penn State, and the Eagles don't really have an experienced backup nose tackle, so his addition makes sense, though he'll probably be a bubble player at the outset of training camp, at best. He does not have intriguing athleticism, to put it kindly: 

According to a 2023 scouting report via Lance Zierlein, Mustipher is a high character guy, and "brings good thickness to the position."

Mustipher was a high-character leader for the Nittany Lions and brings good thickness to the position. He’s a little too gradual off the snap to create stress for blockers and fails to control the action with force or hand usage. Mustipher’s below-average athletic profile and limited impact on games will make it difficult for him to work his way onto an NFL roster.

Also according to Zierlein's scouting report, Mustipher is "girthy." 

* Two-time team captain and three-year starter. * Girthy lower half with adequate upper-body power. * Creates some knockback momentum into blockers. * Good rip under blocker’s inside hand to penetrate the gap. * Keeps eyes engaged in the backfield through the block.

Mustipher has a chance to crack the 53 if he can prove to be a solid dirty work player against the run in the preseason games.

Thomas Booker

Booker was a Texans fifth-round pick in 2022. He appeared in 10 games for Houston as a rookie, making 15 tackles and a half sack. He was on the Eagles' practice squad for the entire 2023 season, and then signed a futures contract in January.

Gabe Hall

Hall was a player I didn't didn't know much during his time in college at Baylor, but he was a standout during Senior Bowl practices. Push-pull move here:

Swim move here:

He is a tall, lean defensive tackle at 6'6, 291, with an 84" wingspan.

Hall has some pass rush talent and some intriguing traits, but was a liability at times for Baylor against the run. It was a surprise for some draft analysts that he didn't get drafted.

MORE: 10 reasons the Eagles can win the Super Bowl

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