When the Eagles traded away NT Isaac Sopoaga to the Patriots, they traded away the only defensive lineman on the team who was over 25 years old. The remaining cast is comprised of Cedric Thornton (25), Vinny Curry (25), Clifton Geathers (25), Damion Square (24), Bennie Logan (23), Fletcher Cox (22), and Joe Kruger (21), who is on IR.
The Eagles now have the youngest defensive line in the NFL:
According to Chip Kelly, the DL is the best part of the defense. "I think the strength of our team on the defensive side of the ball has been our defensive line and the production that we're getting out of those guys," said Kelly.
The Eagles' DL is indeed the strength of the defense. Fletcher Cox is already playing at a high level, and at 22 years of age, he still has great upside. Cedric Thornton has been a pleasant surprise this year, as the coaching staff has repeatedly singled him out as the best performing defensive player on the team. Meanwhile, Vinny Curry is a skilled pass rusher with an extremely impressive first step, and Bennie Logan has had some good moments as a rookie.
Cox and Thornton are regulars, but Kelly said he felt like he needed to see more of the other young guys.
"I thought Isaac did a nice job for us, but we felt like we had a couple younger guys that we really need to continue to get in there, and when they've played, they continue to really produce," Kelly said. "I think Clifton Geathers is a great example. Clifton Geathers played 13 snaps on Sunday versus the Giants and had three contacts with the ball, and he's a guy that just keeps getting better. I think Bennie Logan is a guy we need to see more of. Damion Square is a guy who was up for of course two games, but because we kept seven defensive linemen, we brought Vinny up and Square down, but you watch Square every day in practice and I think Square, Logan and Geathers need more reps."
"I think getting the younger guys involved is going to be beneficial for us. I'm excited to see Bennie and Clifton and Square and those guys play a lot more."
The last two games were offensive disasters for the Eagles, but the defense more than held its own. With Sopoaga gone, the only player left on the defense who is over the age of 30 is Trent Cole (31). This is a young group that has had to learn a new scheme in a short amount of time, and should only continue to get better.