In last year’s NFL Draft, the Eagles used their first two picks to address the defensive side of the football. With their first round selection, they took defensive end Derek Barnett, who carved out his role and racked up five sacks.
In the second round, the Eagles drafted cornerback Sidney Jones, who slid in the draft due to a torn Achilles, but played in the regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
Fast forward to this year’s draft and the Eagles replicated this same philosophy in the fourth round.
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With their first pick in the round, the team took speedy cornerback Avonte Maddox out of the University of Pittsburgh. After that, the Eagles used their second fourth round pick on Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat.
Sweat has a lot of untapped potential and could be a steal for the Eagles. The former Florida State Seminole was a top-10 recruit coming out of high school, but had his final year of scholastic football derailed by brutal knee injury.
That severe knee injury followed Sweat to college as there was a possibility that the defensive end would not play football again. However, Sweat defied the odds. He started in nine games as a freshman and put together a good collegiate career.
Over his three-year career at Florida State, Sweat compiled 138 total tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks.
Last season a junior, Sweat had a career year with 56 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and five sacks. He left his mark on every game and caused havoc in the backfield.
When you turn on Sweat’s tape, you can see why the Eagles’ front office was intrigued by him during the draft process. Even though he is only 6-foot-5 and 250 lbs., which could be look at as small for a defensive end, Sweat continuously put pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback.
“The thing that jumped out first watching him was his first-step takeoff. This is a guy that can really gain ground on his first two steps as an edge rusher. So he really pressures the outside shoulders and blockers,” said Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas to reporters after the draft.
In addition to his good first-step, Sweat has the speed to get around an offensive lineman to make a play in the backfield. At the NFL combine, ran a 4.53 40-yard dash and 4.28 20-yard shuttle.
The selection of Sweat works well in the Eagles’ defensive scheme as he can be one of their pass rushing specialist on third down and long situations. Barnett succeeded in this role last season and eventually garnered more snaps because of his play.
Despite having a lingering knee issue, which caused him to slide down draft boards, Sweat will not be expected to be an All-Pro as a rookie. However, it is not out of the question for him to make an impact that gives the Eagles’ brass a taste of what the future holds.