Philadelphia Eagles way-too-early roster projection: Defensive Line

Fletcher Cox (91) Brandon Graham (55) Derek Barnett (96) Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Fletcher Cox (91) Brandon Graham (55) Derek Barnett (96) Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Philadelphia Eagles
Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Who will contain the edge for the Philadelphia Eagles?

Defensive Ends (5): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Tarron Jackson

Former Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham leads the defensive ends into battle in 2021. One of the most reliable defensive ends in football, Graham is coming off of two straight seasons of at least eight sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 13 tackles for loss, and 29 pressures.

He also added three forced fumbles in that span. Derek Barnett won’t be as comfortable as he is on his fifth-year option. The 25-year-old has been a key starter on the line but hasn’t quite lived up to his 13th overall selection. The hope is that he can be a late-bloomer like Graham who was also picked 13th.

If not for the knee injury history, Josh Sweat might be playing more snaps each week. He also had a wrist injury that ended his 2020 season. Maybe those concerns will be put to rest this season. If they are, Sweat is poised for a breakout season one year later than we predicted. Regardless of his role, he has made the most of his opportunities. He has a variety of pass rush moves that he can use to beat offensive tackles.

Ryan Kerrigan is listed as a defensive end but will likely spend some time as a standup rusher in the SAM role in the 4-3 under. The ex-Washington pass rusher figures to bring some much-needed depth to the front four and produce in a Chris Long type of role. After those four, the position is thin but Tarron Jackson earns the fifth spot. He demonstrated the ability to consistently beat offensive tackles inside with his hands and swim moves. If he can develop a few more pass rush moves, he might be a rotational piece in a year or two.