PHILADELPHIA CREAM – Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni reviewed positional drills during Friday’s rookie minicamp at the NovaCare Complex. As Sirianni looked around, he quickly looked 40 yards toward first-round pick Jordan Davis, who was working on an orange dummy, placing his massive arms in the midsection of the player’s replica before moving onto the side.
About 10 yards closer to Sirianni, third-round draft pick Nakobe Dean worked with the other undrafted and trying linebackers moving laterally, feigning his touches and chasing a ball carrier.
Sirianni will see Davis and Dean on the court this season, using what they’ve been doing for at least 17 games, hoping they’ll be additions to a defense that finished 10th overall last season (328.8 yards per match). After watching his rookies participate on the first day of camp, Sirianni said having Davis and Dean, who both went to Georgia, would benefit from playing together again, this time in the NFL.
“Any familiarity like this is going to help,” Sirianni said. “It’s rare that you have two guys from the same team on a team just because there are 32 teams picking and stuff like that. We’re definitely excited in so many ways. You go to a new place and you have a familiar face to talk to. It’s not just on the football side, but also off the pitch.
Davis and Dean’s draft picks aren’t the only moves the Eagles have made to bolster their front-seven. The Eagles also signed Haason Reddick and Kyzir White in free agency. The Eagles are hoping the new linebackers will be an upgrade from Alex Singleton and Genard Avery, who both left for free agency themselves.
The four new Eagles that accompany the stalwarts, such as defensive end Brandon Graham and defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, will give defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon several chances to be flexible in the defensive fronts he can use depending of the type of attack. the team faces.
Davis is tall enough to be a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, occupying two or three offensive linemen in the line of scrimmage. Davis could also line up as a traditional 4-3 defensive tackle, starting in the reserve unit with Milton Williams and becoming an effective second wave who can get a push through the middle.
As for Dean, on Friday he said he was learning to play both middle (MIKE) and weak side (linebacker spots WILL. With Dean and TJ Edwards on the field, as well as White and Reddick, the Eagles would have four linebackers capable of dropping into zone coverage and defending in the passing game while also being effective at disguising where they rush on blitzes.
Uncertainty over the arrival of the rushers could add a second or two for offensive linemen to decide who to block, giving the Eagles a better chance of getting more sacks, something they need to improve on since they have finished with the second-lowest amount in the league (29).
Overall success will depend on how well the defensive line can maintain the way they play their shortcomings and prevent offensive linemen from reaching Eagles linebackers, allowing them to get where they need to go freely. If they do, the Eagles can be one of the most improved units in the league.
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Chris Franklin can be reached at [email protected].