Josh Sweat’s rookie season didn’t go as planned, but ESPN believes the Philadelphia Eagles pass rusher will get back on track in 2019.
Last season, Philadelphia Eagles fourth-round pick Josh Sweat joined a pass-rushing unit that was loaded on the front end. They had Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett starting while Michael Bennett and Chris Long rotated in as backups. Sweat’s rookie season was meant for him to get reps in practice, but pretty much redshirt on gameday so he could sit back and learn.
Unfortunately, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, who happened to be one of the most damaged teams in the NFL last season. Graham was recovering from ankle surgery throughout the year. Derek Barnett would eventually miss the rest of the season after getting a shoulder surgery of his own. While Bennett and Long remained healthy for the most part, the Eagles needed to start utilizing their depth guys.
Therefore, Sweat had the opportunity to come in and play. He didn’t start any games, but he did appear in nine matchups. During that time, Sweat managed to load up on one tackle, and a single hit on the quarterback. Eventually, Sweat would find himself on the injured reserve as well after suffering a knee injury. In the NFL Draft, Sweat dropped to the fourth round because of his injury history. And to no surprise, injuries ended up derailing his rookie season.
Now, the Eagles don’t know percisely what they have in Sweat — but this year, they have no choice but to try and find out. Chris Long retired, and Michael Bennett was traded. So Sweat is well-aware of the fact that he has to step up in order to remain relevant on the roster. While he is a giant question mark right now, ESPN Insider does anticipate a breakout season from Sweat.
What’s the word at ESPN?
"“Sweat’s rookie season in Philadelphia was mostly invested in watching the fearsome veterans the Eagles have assembled kick butt and take names. The Howie Roseman Eagles have a long history of young linemen being observers early in their career, then getting up to speed quickly once given a chance.”“With Michael Bennett and Chris Long departing this offseason, the Eagles roll into the year with Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett and Sweat all itching for time along with Brandon Graham. It’s likely all of them will get a chunk of playing time given how the Eagles run things. Sweat has the most imposing physical profile, and comps well to Vikings star Danielle Hunter in that area. He’s going to have to develop like Hunter to get playing time on this line.”"
Sweat has all of the right tools to succeed up front with the Eagles. His six-foot-five-inch, 251-pound frame looks beastly, but his durability will remain a real concern until he can prove that he can stay healthy.
As insurance, the Eagles drafted another defensive end in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft in Shareef Miller. So if Sweat isn’t up for the challenge, the Eagles won’t hesitate to gift Miller with his snaps. Hopefully, for the Eagles sake, that won’t be the case because Sweat is heading into what could potentially become a breakout season.