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May 19, 2017

What they’re saying: After overhaul, Eagles defensive line still a strength

In addition to being a GIF machine, Jim Schwartz is pretty conservative defensive coordinator. He doesn’t like to blitz, preferring to get after opposing quarterbacks with his front four.

That means the defensive line better be one of the team’s strengths, and the Eagles addressed it in the NFL Draft (Derek Barnett), free agency (Chris Long), and via trade (Tim, not Timmy, Jernigan). In handing out his offseason grades,’s Bill Barnwell gave the Eagles a B-minus, the highest mark in the division.

And the retooled defensive line was part of the reason:

General manager Howie Roseman didn't rest on his line's laurels, though. Philly released veteran Connor Barwin, who didn't take particularly well to the team's new scheme, and allowed nose tackle Bennie Logan to leave. Roseman refreshed his line by swapping third-round picks in a deal for Ravens tackle Tim Jernigan, a useful interior disruptor who will rotate with run-stopper Beau Allen. Chris Long was brought in to serve as the veteran end playing alongside Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham, and the Eagles went further by using their first-round pick on Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. In a league in which even anonymous pass-rushers are picking up significant sums of money in free agency, the Eagles go four-deep with defensive ends who could be relative bargains in 2017.’s Gregg Rosenthal particularly likes the Jernigan trade:

The overhaul on the defensive line was dramatic. Chris Long and Vinny Curry will add to the defensive end rotation, but I included first-round pick Derek Barnett as a starter in the Eagles' best-case scenario. Timmy Jernigan could be one of the steals of the offseason, obtained in a cheap trade.

It’s my expert analysis that the Eagles cornerback situation is #bad (you heard is here first!). So if the Eagles defense is successful in 2017, the defensive line needs to be good.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

1.     Mailbag! How will the Eagles divvy up carries for their running backs?

2.    Pounding the rock: Think of LeGarrette Blount as taking over the Ryan Mathews role, which means more than being just a short-yardage back for the Eagles.

3.    Trust the process? Speaking of Blount, LeGarrette was, well, blunt, in taking a shot at the Sixers.

4.    Better or worse: Unlike the offense, the Eagles defense is worse than the 2016 group in a few ways. Jimmy feels like the loss of Bennie Logan could be pretty big.

5.    A history of NFL trash talk: If there’s one piece that you read today, let this be just it for the old war stories from Ike Reese, Hollis Thomas, and Brian Baldinger. Great stuff from Joe Santoliquito.

Other Eagles news, notes and analysis from around the web

Tyler Orlosky headlines the 10 best undrafted players: Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

I missed this from a few weeks ago, but Brugler declared Eagles UFDA center Orlosky as the best player who wasn’t drafted:

Although not a rangy mover, Orlosky competes with physical hands and the tenacious mentality to tie up defenders at the line of scrimmage. If he can improve his sink and mirror skills in space, Orlosky has the brute power and protection awareness to win a starting role and make all the line calls in the NFL.

LaGarrette Blount confident of playing well in Eagles' offense: Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News

LeGarrette just played with the best all-time quarterback (I know, I hate it too), but he thinks Carson Wentz can be pretty good too:

"I think he has the potential to be a really special player," Blount said, when asked about Wentz. "He has all the tools that are needed, and all the 'grind' that is needed, and he has the mindset to maximize his ability, if he just continues to work hard."

NFL's biggest contracts for 2017:

Fletcher Cox has the highest average yearly salary of any defensive player not named Muhammad Wilkerson or Von Miller. Kirk Cousins will make the third-most money in the league this season, LOL.

Four Downs: NFC East: Vincent Verhei, Football Outsiders

Unsurprisingly, Verhei lists cornerback as the Eagles’ biggest post-draft weakness.

Re-grading the 2014 NFL draft, three years later: Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated

The Eagles were given a D grade for their 2014 draft haul, which is completely fair:

For all the deserved criticism WR Jordan Matthews (No. 42) has heard during his Philadelphia days, he has been by far the most productive member of this class (2,673 yards, 19 TDs). If you want a strong value pick, it’s seventh-round DT Beau Allen (No. 224), whose 2017 status is in doubt because of a torn pectoral. The Smith selection was a head-scratcher when it happened, and nothing has changed since. He, CB Jaylen Watkins (No. 101) and DE Taylor Hart (No. 141) are still on the roster. WR Josh Huff (No. 86) did not last as long.

NFL Front Office Power Rankings: Sean Wagner-McGough, CBS Sports

The Joe Douglas Effect! Howie Roseman and the Eagles front office was ranked fifth in the NFL for the job they did this offseason:

Carson Wentz is the quarterback of the future, so the Eagles were wise to go get him some weapons. Landing Alshon Jeffery on a one-year prove-it deal is huge. So is getting Torrey Smith, a receiver who was stuck on a horrible San Francisco team, which hid his talents.

Don't overlook the signing of Chris Long and the drafting of Sidney Jones, who will be hurt at the beginning of the year, but could display his first-round talent once he makes his way back.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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