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Eagles defensive line: 4-3 or 3-4?

Here is the sixth in a series of looks at the Eagles roster:

Eagles defensive line: 4-3 or 3-4?

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is tackled by<br />Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) and<br />Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent Cole (58) after scrambling up<br />the middle for a nine-yard gain during the second quarter of an NFL<br />football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. The Steelers won<br />16-14. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91) and Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent Cole (58) after scrambling up the middle for a nine-yard gain during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. The Steelers won 16-14. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Here is the sixth in a series of looks at the Eagles roster:

Today: Defensive line

On the roster: While coach Chip Kelly said Monday that he is still deciding between the 4-3 and 3-4 for the Eagles defense, their defensive line was built for a 4-3. So the scheme dictates the needs along the defensive line. Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins can both play on the defensive line of a 3-4, although Jenkins is due $5.5 million next season. Cedric Thornton would also seem a potential fit for a 3-4 if that is the case. It might be an issue for Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon, though.

At defensive end, someone will need to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. Trent Cole has the size to play end in a 3-4, although he could profile as a standup outside linebacker. Brandon Graham would seem to be an outside linebacker. Vinny Curry’s position will be up for debate. Phillip Hunt would be an outside linebacker. Darryl Tapp is an unrestricted free agent and likely won’t return if a 3-4 is used. The same is true with Derek Landri.

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Defensive end Everette Brown and defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron are roster bodies that will have a fresh start with a new staff.

Not on the roster: The key if a 3-4 is used will be for the Eagles to find a nose tackle. That can happen in the draft, where Utah’s Star Lotulelei and Georgia’s Jonathan Jenkins will be popular names. Lotulelei can play in any scheme and will likely go early in the first round.
They can also pursue that spot in free agency, where former Temple standout and Jaguars starter Terrance Knighton could be an option. For other spots in the 3-4, the Ravens’ Arthur Jones and the Jets’ Mike DeVito have experience.

Coming tomorrow: Linebackers

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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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