Josh Sweat

Who are the Eagles' 10 best players under 25 years old?

Who are the Eagles' 10 best players under 25 years old?

There was a piece on this week listing the top under-25 players in the NFL by position.

The list was impressive and really makes you realize how much remarkable young talent is in the league.

Among those listed are record-setting Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes; Bucs receiver Chris Godwin, who had over 1,300 yards last year; Pro Bowl offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Orlando Brown; sack machines Nick and Joey Boss; and star defensive backs Marshon Lattimore, Marlon Humphrey, Jamal Adams and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

There were 25 guys in all. 

And no Eagles. 

Not surprisingly.

The story used the scheduled 2020 opening day as its cutoff. Only players who will be 24 or younger as of Sept. 13, 1995, were eligible.

Which got us thinking about the best Eagles under 25.

And it’s a little ominous.

The Eagles haven’t had a player under 25 make a Pro Bowl since kicker Cody Parkey in 2014 and they haven’t had a position player under 25 make a Pro Bowl since Nick Foles in 2013. Their last defensive players under 25 to make a Pro Bowl were Michael Lewis and Lito Sheppard in 2004.

For the sake of comparison, 30 NFL players who began last year under 25 made a Pro Bowl just last year, and 91 different players under 25 have made at least one Pro Bowl since the last Eagle did.

The Cowboys, for the sake of comparison, have had five.

Now, Pro Bowls are just one way of measuring young talent, but the urgency for the Eagles to begin developing younger players is clear. 

Especially when you look at this list of the top 10 Eagles under 25. 

For the record, Dallas Goedert, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Hassan Ridgeway and Will Parks are already 25, and Greg Ward, Rasul Douglas and Joe Ostman turn 25 this summer. And we’re not including rookies just because who knows.

1. RB Miles Sanders
Had one of the finest rookie seasons in Eagles history, with 818 rushing yards, 50 catches and 1,327 scrimmage yards. Led all NFL rookie running backs in scrimmage yards. Turns 25: May 1, 2022.

2. DE Derek Barnett
Barnett has been OK, but a top-15 pick with 14 sacks in three years probably shouldn’t be your second-best under-25 player. Among players who entered the league in 2017, Barnett’s 14 career sacks are only 11th. Turns 25: June 25, 2021.

3. CB Avonte Maddox
Has shown a lot of promise, mainly as a slot and mainly down the stretch in 2018. May have inside track for a starting outside corner spot in 2020. Turns 25: March 31, 2021.

4. OT Andre Dillard 
His three decent starts at left tackle last year earn Dillard the No. 4 spot. His awful start at right tackle is why he’s no higher. Turns 25: Oct. 3, 2020.

5. DE Josh Sweat
OK, now it gets tricky. Sweat had 4.0 sacks in 352 snaps last year, which isn't a great ratio. But at least he played and contributed. Turns 25: March 29, 2022.

6. LB T.J. Edwards 
Didn’t play a lot as an undrafted rookie — 112 defensive snaps all year — but looks like a solid inside linebacker prospect. Turns 25: Aug. 12, 2021.

7. CB Sidney Jones 
Obviously, Jones has been a huge disappointment since the Eagles drafted him in the second round in 2017, but at least he showed a couple brief flashes last year that give us hope. Turns 25: April 29, 2021.

8. DT Anthony Rush 
Came off the practice squad to give the Eagles a late-season lift with 152 snaps over the last nine games. Turns 25: Sept. 1, 2021

9. CB Craig James 
We’re at the point where we’re going with a special teamer here. James played nearly 250 special teams snaps last season. Turns 25: April 29, 2021.

10. WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside 
I know, I know, but somebody has to be No. 10, and at least JJAW had seven 1st-down receptions last year. That’s 70 percent of his career catches! Turns 25: Dec. 31, 2021.

The rest: Here are the remaining players on the current roster (not including rookies) who will be under 25 on opening day: Marcus Epps, Marcus Green, Deaontay Burnett, Nate Herbig, Elijah Holyfield, Albert Huggins, Jordan Mailata, Shareef Miller, Sua Opeta, Keegan Render, Tremon Smith.

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With 1st sack out of the way, Josh Sweat ready for more

With 1st sack out of the way, Josh Sweat ready for more

Josh Sweat didn’t have a celebration planned and it showed. 

After the Eagles’ second-year defensive end ran through Jets QB Luke Falk last week for his first-career NFL sack, he extended his arms and ran down the field with his 84-inch wingspan like a real jet. Then he pumped his fists. Then he caught teammates who jumped into him with hugs. 

The whole thing was all just a little disjointed. 

Really, though, it was a release of pure emotion after Sweat picked up his first NFL sack, one that had been eluding him for too long. 

“For a while, I thought I was cursed, honestly,” Sweat said this week. “Because I was hitting [quarterbacks], but they were just getting rid of it. I felt like I should have had that a couple weeks ago. 

“But I was obviously excited. I didn’t even know how to celebrate.”

Sweat might want to practice those celebrations. Because he’s hoping the sacks start rolling in now. 

With the absences of Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan from the middle of the Eagles’ defensive line, Jim Schwartz has been using Brandon Graham more frequently inside on third downs. That means extended reps for Sweat. Even though he didn’t pick up his first sack until Sunday, he’s been playing well. 

A fourth-round pick out of Florida State last season, Sweat played just 68 defensive snaps snaps in nine games during his rookie year. Through five games this season, Sweat has played 95 defensive snaps and has played more than Vinny Curry in three of five games.  

Now that Sweat has his first sack out of the way, Graham thinks there will be more to follow. 

“Once you get one, man, that’s when the hunger starts,” Graham said. “You want some more and you want some more and you want to figure out how can I get it? With [Sweat] having that mindset and him wanting to keep having that same feeling of sacking the quarterback, he knows he has to keep working on his technique and stay technically sound. When his name is called, win his 1-on-1.” 

On Sunday, Sweat thought he was going to get a sack earlier in the game, but Falk got rid of the football on a play Sweat thought should have been grounding. So Sweat didn’t pick up his sack until the fourth quarter. 

“I saw everyone getting sacks and I was like, ‘I can’t be the only one not getting one,’” Sweat said. “I said, double team or not, I set him up to make it look like I was going upfield and just came right underneath him. I just ran. I literally ran to the other side to go get him. I was not going to be denied.” 

Back in August, when I asked a bunch of Eagles veterans which player they most wanted to see in game action, Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks said Sweat’s name without hesitation. See, Sweat came to training camp about 20 pounds heavier than he was last season, but hadn’t lost his quickness. 

A bunch of his teammates, especially the guys who had to block him this summer, still expect big things from Sweat. And at 6-5, 265 and with his length, Sweat certainly looks the part even more now with the added weight than he did coming out of college. 

There was palpable buzz around Sweat this spring and summer. Even though his role is still limited, the Eagles would certainly love to get consistent production from Sweat the rest of this season. 

“To a lot of people, he’s long and lanky,” offensive lineman Matt Pryor said. “But he’s strong as s---, too.”

Pryor said the area where Sweat has improved most is against the run. And Schwartz said he thought Sweat’s best play against the Jets was one where he sprinted from the other side of the formation to tackle Le’Veon Bell. 

Stopping the run is important. But sacks are game-changing plays. Sweat is hoping they’ll come in bunches. 

“I think they’re about to start rolling in now,” Sweat said. “They’re about to start rolling in.”

He better work on his celebrations then. 

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10 players to watch in Eagles’ third preseason game of 2019

10 players to watch in Eagles’ third preseason game of 2019

The Eagles will play their third preseason game tonight, which used to be the all-important dress rehearsal game. Things have changed.

After two joint practices this week and as the NFL (and the Eagles) continue to place more value on practice over preseason games, things have changed. Sure, some starters will play on Thursday night, but don’t expect to see Carson Wentz. If he does play, it would just be a cameo appearance.

With that in mind, here are 10 players I want to see against the Ravens:

Josh McCown

In his very first practice with the Eagles, McCown was already checking a play at the line of scrimmage. I think the 40-year-old vet will be fine to play in this game. After the injuries we’ve seen this preseason, maybe McCown shouldn’t play a lot, but I’d like to see him in there a little bit.

Clayton Thorson

After breaking out in last week’s game, the rookie quarterback had what was easily his best week of practice. He just looked way more confident than we had seen him before. It’ll be interesting to see if he can continue that in a live game. If Thorson finishes the preseason strong, he’s probably going to force the Eagles to keep him on their 53-man roster so he doesn’t get claimed off waivers.

Rodney McLeod/Corey Clement

I’m lumping these two together because they’re both coming off injury and I don’t know if they’re going to play. Both thought there was a chance they’d play but weren’t positive. We probably haven’t talked about McLeod enough, but he’s an important piece of this defense. While the team added Andrew Sendejo and Johnathan Cyprien, McLeod is really the only guy ideally suited to play that deep safety role when Malcolm Jenkins is up in the box.

Sidney Jones

This has been an encouraging summer for the supremely talented Jones. With Ronald Darby’s return, either Jones or Douglas are going to be heading to the bench and that’s going to be a tough decision. Despite what Douglas has done, I still think Jones is the more talented player with the higher ceiling. I’d like to see if he can flash in this game.

Daeshon Hall

This preseason, Hall leads the NFL in sacks (3), TFLs (4), QB hits (6) and forced fumbles (2). Let’s see if he can keep it going through the last two games. If Hall doesn’t make this roster, then we’ll know how little preseason games count in evaluations. But if Hall doesn’t make this roster, he’ll be on another 53-man somewhere.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Brandon Brooks was cleared to participate in 1-on-1s this week and from what I saw looked good. But we’re nearing Week 1 and it’s not definite that he’ll be ready. If he’s not, then Big V will step in. Vaitai has looked solid this summer, but I’ll be closely watching him again against the Ravens.

Josh Perkins

With the injury to Richard Rodgers, Perkins is now in line to be the Eagles’ third-string TE to start the 2019 season. Perk has had a good summer and is far ahead of where he was this time last year. But I wonder if tight end is a position the Eagles would be interested in upgrading after final cuts.

Stefen Wisniewski

The guy who started at left guard in the Super Bowl might get cut. It’s been a tough summer for Wiz, who all of a sudden can’t seem to snap the ball. The Eagles have even replaced him at second-team center in recent practice days. With a good game on Thursday, Wiz could either help his cause to make the Eagles roster or perhaps raise his trade value.

Josh Sweat

While Hall and Shareef Miller have shined so far this preseason, it’s been a quiet two games for Sweat. And then he even missed a practice day this week with a knee injury, which is even more notable for Sweat. There was a lot of hype around the second-year DE coming into the summer and he started off practices strong, but let’s see it in game action.

Miles Sanders

While I have already seen enough to know Sanders should play a ton in his rookie season, I’d still like to see more. A few more runs and a few targets his way would show everyone what those of us at practice every day have seen. I think he’s the most talented running back on the roster.

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