More Sports:

June 23, 2015

A random Eagles note for each position, defense edition

Eagles NFL
062415BrandonGraham Matt Rourke/AP

Brandon Graham could be primed for a big 2015.

With the Eagles' roster having gone through such a major overhaul this offseason, we gave some thoughts about each positional group on the offensive side of the ball yesterday. Today we'll do the same for the defense.

Defensive line

Remember last offseason when everyone was killing Bennie Logan because the Saints converted a bunch of third and fourth down conversions in the 2013 playoffs? While the Eagles often got destroyed in the passing game in 2014, there's no longer much to complain about in regard to Logan or the rest of the defensive line in the run game. Last season, the Eagles gave up just 3.7 yards per carry, which was tied for fourth best in the NFL. They also gave up first downs on 18.6% of opposing offenses' rushes (sixth in the NFL), and they were one of just four teams not to give up a rush of over 40 yards.

The Eagles' run D was excellent last year, and six of their front seven starters will be back in 2015.

Inside linebacker

If the Eagles ran a 4-3 instead of a 3-4, they'd have that pesky "overabundance of ILBs" thing solved, if you even consider that an issue. Kiko Alonso would probably make a good SAM, DeMeco Ryans would of course be the MIKE, and, Mychal Kendricks would be the WILL.

However, although it took a while, the Eagles personnel on defense has finally gotten to the point where it better suits a 3-4 defense than a 4-3, in my opinion. 

Outside linebacker

As long as the Eagles don't ask Brandon Graham to drop into coverage too much, I believe he will be a highly effective player in his first year entering a season as a starter. Graham plays the run well enough, and he has always been very disruptive when the Eagles have let him attack the quarterback. With a full season as a starter, I don't think it's unrealistic for him to get a dozen or so sacks in 2015.


The Eagles will face the following wide receivers this season: Odell Beckham Jr. twice, Dez Bryant twice, DeSean Jackson twice, Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston, and others.

Clearly the Eagles needed to fix their secondary after giving up the third most 20+ yard pass plays in NFL history last season. But also, the NFL is becoming a league where the wide receivers are awesome. While I still believe the Eagles whiffed by not drafting an offensive lineman or two, I do believe that putting heavy resources into the corner position made a lot of sense as well.


The Eagles had the best special teams units in the NFL a year ago. This offseason, they lost a few special teams studs, but gained others. They still have a lot of players currently on the roster who are accomplished special teams coverage guys. In fact, since 2011, five Eagles have had at least 10 special teams tackles in one season. (10 ST tackles will typically put you at #1 or #2 on your team in that department).

Player Year STs tackles 
 Bryan Braman2012 17 
 Seyi Ajirotutu2014 16 
 Seyi Ajirotutu2013 16 
 Chris Maragos2014 12 
 Brad Jones2014 11 
 Chris Maragos2013 11 
 Chris Maragos2011 11 
 Chris Prosinski2014 10 
 Brad Jones2011 10 

Safety is the position that could be the toughest decision to make in terms of, "Do we keep a special teams guy over a guy who might be a better reserve as a position player?" Chris Maragos will be a lock to make the team, in my opinion, but an interesting battle could emerge between Chris Prosinski, who is good on special teams, and a guy like, oh say... Earl Wolff, who is a more skilled safety, but has had trouble staying on the field and isn't as good on special teams.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski