Through two pre-season games the defense has impressed. Things may have gone a little differently if they had to face Andrew Luck for more than a drive and a half, but they’ve still impressed.
The changes in coaching are evident in the secondary, where players now look for the ball, and the run defense has been simply out of this world, which, while perhaps expected against the Colts, is impressive against the Ravens.
Defensive Line: Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, Brandon Bair, Beau Allen, Brian Mihalik
Through two pre-season games the defensive line is far and away the Eagles’ best unit.And it doesn’t matter what unit is in the game, first, second, or third string.That makes it tough to say who’s on and off the roster when everyone is making a case.
Cox, Logan, and Thornton are obviously on.Bair is playing great and vital to special teams.Beau Allen solidified his spot as a rookie last year.It comes down to this year’s seventh round pick Mihalik and last year’s fifth rounder Taylor Hart.
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Both have looked fine in pre-season, Mihalik probably significantly better than expected for such a late round project pick.Hart couldn’t get on the field as a rookie in 2014.Hart’s the last man off.
Outside Linebacker: Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman
Vinny Curry counts here because of the log jam at defensive line and the lack of depth at outside linebacker.Not to mention he did a pretty fair job manning the position against the Ravens.Obviously, he’s not a player the Eagles will want to rely on dropping into coverage, but he gives them a body at a position where they’re in desperate need of one.
Smith’s injury hurts, but it certainly seems like he’s progressed to a point worthy of making the team, especially when you consider the lack of alternatives available.
Braman, always exceptional on special teams, has looked like a stud against the bottom of pre-season opponents’ depth charts.
Inside Linebacker: Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, Brad Jones
Kendricks extension is something to feel good about.One day, Alonso, Ryans, and Kendricks will play in a game, and that will be something to feel good about as well.Hicks isn’t missing the roster after being taken in the third round, and Brad Jones gives the Eagles a player who can play inside or outside at linebacker.
Cornerback: Byron Maxwell, Nolan Carroll, Eric Rowe, Jaylen Watkins, E.J. Biggers
Maxwell and Carroll seem set on the outside, but the nickel job is still up for grabs after Brandon Boykin’s trade and Jacorey Shepherd’s injury.
Biggers has had a surprisingly good pre-season after mediocre stints with Washington and Tampa Bay. His success likely comes at the expense of Denzel Rice and Randall Evans.Watkins has had a moment or two of shying away from the run, but looks solid in coverage and is apparently an option at safety.
Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Walter Thurmond, Chris Maragos, Ed Reynolds, Chris Prosinski
Five safeties is a lot, but this is another case of rewarding the talent.Reynolds is having a great pre-season.Maragos and Prosinski are special teams aces and haven’t looked too bad at regular duty themselves.
Not to mention, when Walter Thurmond hasn’t played a full season since 2008, it’s not the most ludicrous thing to carry an extra man.
Somehousekeeping:Eric Tomlinson, is sadly off (he was added to Metro’s offensive list last week, pending how ready Zach Ertz is by week one. Tomlinson’s continued to look fine, but the defense has a lot of players impressing, and the spot is needed for a position group a little more heavily rotated than tight end.