More Sports:

May 25, 2023

Eagles DE Josh Sweat on rookies Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith: 'The work ethic is pretty crazy'

"Shoot, they're professionals, man," Sweat said of the Eagles' two first-round picks out of Georgia. "Like it's actually surprising coming out of college."

Incoming rookies Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith only just got to Philadelphia, but if you ask Josh Sweat, they already look like pros. 

"The work ethic is pretty crazy for both of them," Sweat told the media from the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday, just a few days out from the start of OTAs. "They're already working. Shoot, they're professionals, man. Like it's actually surprising coming out of college. 

"But they're working. They're just here to learn and they're making improvement quickly."

And hopefully, they'll step in and help a franchise-best Eagles pass rush from last season not miss a beat come September.

Both key pieces to a dominant national championship-winning Georgia defense – along with second-year Eagles Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, and fourth-round corner Kelee RingoCarter was picked up ninth overall as arguably the most talented prospect available and Smith not that far behind him at No. 30 within the first round of the NFL Draft last month. 

The Eagles lost interior pass rusher Javon Hargrave to San Francisco and linebacker T.J. Edwards to Chicago in free agency, and Linval Joseph's, Ndamukong Suh's, and Robert Quinn's contracts all expired, but with veteran pillars Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham both returning up front – plus managing to keep both Darius Slay and James Bradberry in the secondary – the Eagles' defensive losses following the Super Bowl weren't as severe as initially expected. 

With progress from Dean and Davis in Year 2, mentorship and whatever production might be left from Cox and Graham in the twilight of their careers, a returning Haason Reddick fresh off his best seasons yet, and – in the early best-case scenario – an immediate impact from Carter and Smith, the Eagles' 2023 pass rush could end up just as strong as the NFC Champion unit from 2022, maybe even stronger. 

"They've been on championship teams already," Sweat said of Carter and Smith. "I think they just know how to go about their business."

But Sweat will be just as big a part of that too. 

As possibly the most underrated name on the Eagles' defensive line, the 26-year old edge rusher has steadily improved with every passing year since he came into the league in 2018. Last season, however, saw a sizable jump, as he put up a career-best 11 sacks on the way to a franchise-record 70 combined as a team. 

He's looking to keep it going heading into the summer, explaining on Wednesday that his offseason focus has been on building strength and refining his technique off the snap. 

If there's another big step to Sweat's game, he doesn't really know what that might look like yet. But he's pushing forward regardless.

"S***, I don't know," Sweat said after a long pause. "I mean just trying to get better. Like I said, just refine my technique, just keep doing the things that have worked and just building on it and doing it more."

Although what he does know is that after coming so close to a title just a few months ago and falling just short of it, the Eagles are back on the ground floor. They can't afford to look at it any other way. 

"I mean right now, the mentality is just pretty much we're at the bottom again," he said. "That's just how we have to look at it. We can't really think about that. We went, we didn't win. Everybody's starting over. We're at the bottom. That's how it is."

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports