Philadelphia Eagles fans shouldn’t overlook Genard Avery in 2020

The Philadelphia Eagles acquired defensive end Genard Avery at the 2019 trade deadline, but he only ended up playing 33 defensive snaps with the team

Prior to joining the Philadelphia Eagles, Genard Avery was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

During his rookie season, Avery recorded 40 tackles,14 quarterback hits, five tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Avery then followed up his solid rookie campaign by being a healthy scratch for all but two games for the Browns during the 2019 season.

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Despite Avery being pushed to the back burner in the Browns’ defensive scheme, the Eagles still saw some value in the effective pass rusher.

Consequently, the Eagles traded a 2021 fourth-round pick at the trade deadline for the former Memphis star before the 2019 trade deadline.

Avery played in eight games for Philadelphia following the trade, but the defender’s debut was actually his best game with the team that season after recording two tackles with half a sack against the Chicago Bears.

Avery would then go on to finish the season as a special teams contributor for the most part with the Eagles.

Without question, Avery’s rookie season was when he was at his best as a stand up pass rusher, especially when playing alongside Myles Garrett in the Browns’ defense.

Since the offensive line of opposing teams was usually focused on Garrett, Avery was given one-on-one chances to win battles on numerous occasions, and took full advantage to finish with a solid rookie campaign.

But unfortunately with a new coaching staff in 2019 for Cleveland came a new defensive scheme after Steve Wilks replaced Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator, resulting in Avery no longer being as valuable to the defense.

The Browns asked Avery to add weight so he would be more of a force up front as a run stopper, but it turns out Avery never had use for the additional weight.

Also that season, Cleveland ended up finishing with a defense that ranked near the bottom of the league, so Wilks’ use of Avery shouldn’t hold much weight.

When Jim Schwartz got hold of Avery, the Eagles defensive coordinator had high praise for the youngster, comparing him to Brandon Graham.

He is strong, he’s not the tallest guy in the world, but he is sort of thick and strong and Brandon Graham is sort of the same way. He’s not quite as heavy as Brandon, but the way we play those edges I think he can be successful in our run defense as well as pass.

Avery is a good comparison to the stocky pass rusher in Graham, who is two inches taller and carries more weight than his teammate, but also has the same body type.

As Eagles fans remember, it wasn’t until Graham’s third season in Philadelphia that he finally broke out with 5.5 sacks.

Entering the 2020 season, Avery will have a full offseason of work with the Eagles, and because of his stocky frame he isn’t going to be a run stuffer, but the Eagles have one of the deepest defensive tackle units in the NFL to help take care of that.

In 2020, Avery is going to be a situational speed rusher off the edge tasked with nothing more than hunting the quarterback, as this was when he was at his best in Cleveland.

Avery should be able to earn significant playing time in 2020 considering Philadelphia’s experienced depth at defensive end isn’t what the team’s possessed in past seasons.

At worst, Avery will add special teams contributions in 2020, but hopefully the Eagles can count on him to breakthrough as a pass rusher.

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If Schwartz is right about Avery, and he molds his game after Graham, the Avery acquisition could turn out to be one of the most underrated trades the Eagles have pulled off in recent years.

Plus, if Avery helps Philadelphia earn a trip to the playoffs for a fourth year in a row, this will make the previous trade seem even more valuable.

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