Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan.
Then things start to get blurry in a hurry. Beau Allen? Taylor Hart? Derrick Lott? Not exactly names that breed confidence.
The Eagles have two fine starters on the interior of their defensive line, but depth is a big problem. Allen and Hart seem to be better suited for a 3-4 defense, not the attacking 4-3 scheme new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has brought to Philadelphia. And Lott, who was signed recently, is a relative unknown who went undrafted a year ago and didn’t stick with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers.
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That leads us to the three undrafted free agents the team signed after the draft concluded over a month ago.
Eagles vice president of football relations Howie Roseman, at the time, said he was a little surprised the team didn’t end up taking a defensive tackle this year because of how deep the class was at that position. He also said the Eagles were more aggressive than ever while signing players who went undrafted.
Three of those — more than at any other position — were defensive tackles.
While Aziz Shittu (6-2, 288), from Stanford, was stuck back at school thanks to the NCAA’s graduation rule, the other two worked out for the Eagles all spring. And Destiny Vaeao (6-4, 299) from Washington State and Connor Wujciak (6-2, 291) from Boston College impressed.
“Defensively, there are some defensive linemen in there that have really shown flashes of giving us depth at that position,” head coach Doug Pederson said after OTAs wrapped up.
“And you know, it's something that you've got to continue to monitor — especially once you get into training camp when the reps begin to increase for the three units — that these guys are getting the time spent on the practice field, No. 1, so that we can evaluate them properly as a staff.”
OK, so Pederson didn’t hand out a roster spot just yet, but the head coach last week said he does start to formulate the 53-man roster in his head during these spring practices. And it looks like Vaeao and Wujciak might have crossed his mind.
“We have a limited opportunity to make the team, so we have to come out every day and show something,” Vaeao said. “And every day is a chance to show the coach and everybody we belong on this team.”
While both Vaeao and Wujciak had good springs, Vaeao is the only one to come out unscathed. This week, Wujciak was seen with a heavy case on his arm; Pederson said the rookie needed a pin in his hand, but should be ready for training camp.
What can a defensive lineman show during these spring practices? Well, recently, veteran backup tackle Mike Martin said handwork can be very important (see story).
Vaeao had a nice career at Washington State, but went undrafted earlier this spring. He decided to join the Eagles, in large part, because he thought he fit nicely into Schwartz’s aggressive scheme.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Vaeao said about not getting drafted. “I’m here now, so all that doesn’t really matter. Just have to go out and compete.”