The Philadelphia Eagles really struggled to generate a pass rush last season. There were plenty of reasons for that. Guys like Trent Cole and Brandon Graham, who were used to playing in a 4-3 system their whole professional careers, were clearly playing out of position.
They just never looked comfortable in Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis‘ 3-4 hybrid scheme. Cole wore down and was totally ineffective in the postseason as usual, and Graham simply just doesn’t fit here. He’s not the athlete, or dynamic change-of-direction player needed to play outside linebacker in a 3-4, where getting out and covering opposing tight ends is a major responsibility.
What the Eagles need to do is identify a player who can do a bit of everything, and also has a chance to be a dynamic pass rushing threat on the outside, which the Eagles currently lack.
Prospects like Khalil Mack or Anthony Barr would be the perfect fit, but unfortunately the Eagles will be drafting too late at 22 to land either of these special athletes. Howie Roseman then must get aggressive and try to trade up to land a difference-maker on the outside.
If all else fails there, is a guy who could be sitting at the bottom of the first round that has the confidence, swagger and pass-rushing skills to potentially thrive in a 3-4 defense. His name is Dee Ford. He recently proclaimed that he is “definitely better” than perhaps the No. 1 prospect in this draft, Jadeveon Clowney.
Ford certainly doesn’t lack self confidence. There are some questions about his size and ability to drop in coverage, but he didn’t seem too worried. Ford displayed his athleticism as he ran a low 4.5 40-yard dash at the scouting combine and stood out in individual drills.
A couple of inches shouldn’t deter the Eagles from drafting the athletic Ford. Undersized guys like Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil have thrived in 3-4 defenses because of their athletic abilities and knack for getting to the passer. Ford is in that same mold. Chip Kelly usually likes his players big and long. Ford may not necessarily be the perfect fit in that aspect, but he stands out in almost every other area. He would be a heck of a consolation prize for an Eagles team craving a young pass rusher.