If you were paying attention to the Eagles this summer, you already know that Josh Sweat was the talk of training camp.
There are a lot of people expecting Sweat to have a breakout season, including one of his former teammates.
Chris Long was on an episode of Takeoff with John Clark this week and said he thinks Sweat is going to get to double digit sacks for the first time in his career in 2021. Sweat’s previous career-high is six last season.
“There’s nobody as talented as Josh Sweat on that D-line,” Long said. “If he weren’t injured, he’d be a top five pick. I haven’t seen more than a handful of guys get off the rock like that. Or kind of bend the corner the way he does, the way he’s able to dip and damn near touch … Robert Quinn. He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to Robert Quinn from a talent standpoint that I’ve played with. That’s rare ability.”
Long was teammates with Quinn in St. Louis and watched Quinn go to the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 214. Quinn had 19 sacks in 2013 and 10 1/2 in 2014. So Long’s comparing Sweat to Quinn is really high praise.
That injury Long mentioned has followed Sweat since his high school career and through college. Sweat was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and had a solid career at Florida State but was still available in the fourth round for the Eagles in 2018.
While Sweat still wears a brace on his left knee, that injury hasn’t seemed to slow him down too much. When he got into the NFL, he needed to bulk up. He didn’t play much as a rookie; it was basically a redshirt season after the Eagles put him on IR for what was a relatively minor ankle injury. In a way, that makes Long’s comments about Sweat even more notable. Long was teammates with Sweat before the lanky pass rusher took a big step forward in his career. Long saw the natural talent; it was obvious.
The year after Long retired, Sweat became a rotational player in 2019 and picked up four sacks. In 2020, his role increased again and he got six.
The next question is about whether or not Sweat’s production will continue to rise as his playing time increases.
In the season opener in Atlanta, Sweat didn’t have a sack but he did have six tackles. And despite not starting (Derek Barnett did), Sweat played more snaps (39) than any of the Eagles’ defensive ends in that game. So it looks like Sweat is going to be given his chances.
In 2017, Long was part of a very good defensive line that helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl. But he thinks this group — with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, Barnett, Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Milton Williams and Hassan Ridgeway — ranks right up there.
“It might be more talented than the group we had,” Long said. “I mean, shoot, you’re looking at Josh Sweat and Chris Long. Who’s more talented out of that duo? If that’s your kind of odd man out rusher, you already have an upside that we didn’t have in a lot of ways.”
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