Monday, July 6, 2015

Who makes the cut: Defensive tackles

The Eagles will encounter tough decisions when determining their 53-man roster. During the next two weeks, The Inquirer's Eagles beat writers will try our best to predict who stays and who goes.

Who makes the cut: Defensive tackles

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Eagles lineman Frank Trotter battles with Dallas Reynolds as defensive line coach Jim Washburn looks on. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles lineman Frank Trotter battles with Dallas Reynolds as defensive line coach Jim Washburn looks on. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
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The Eagles will encounter tough decisions when determining their 53-man roster. During the next two weeks, The Inquirer's Eagles beat writers will try our best to predict who stays and who goes.

Wed, Aug. 15: Offensive line
Thur., Aug. 16: Defensive tackles
Fri., Aug. 17: Cornerbacks
Mon., Aug. 20: Running backs
Tues., Aug. 21: Wide receivers / tight ends
Wed., Aug. 22: Linebackers
Thur., Aug. 23: Safeties
Fri., Aug. 24: Quarterbacks / Specialists
Mon., Aug. 27: Defensive ends

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

LIKELY TO KEEP: 4-5

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WHO STAYS: Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Fletcher Cox, Antonio Dixon, Cedric Thornton; Mike Patterson (PUP)

WHO GOES: Frank Trotter, Ollie Ogbu

The defensive line will likely prompt the most difficult decisions for the Eagles because of the depth at both tackle and end. The benefit that some of the Eagles’ defensive tackles have – specifically Jenkins and Cox – is they can bounce outside and play end, particularly on running downs.

Because of that and the talent the Eagles possess at the position, look for them to keep five defensive tackles. That does not even include Patterson, a starter since 2005 who is expected to begin the season the physically-unable-to-perform list.

The Eagles have Jenkins and Landri as starters, but Cox should be considered in that group as well. The Eagles’ first-round pick, Cox brings a rare combination of size and athleticism to the position. He’ll undoubtedly play a major role with the defensive line.

Dixon is not a prototypical Jim Washburn defensive tackle. He’s big (listed at 322 pounds) and slow, but the Eagles can use a space-eating tackle to help on running downs. Thornton is not a household name, but he’s an intriguing prospect that piques Washburn’s interest. The Eagles kept him from going to another team last season even while on practice squad by paying him the league minimum salary for roster players, which was well above the practice squad salary. However, the Eagles will not be able to hide him on practice squad this season, and Thornton's play and potential merits a roster spot.

Ogbu would make for a strong practice squad candidate this season. Trotter is in that mix, too.

The potential always exists that the Eagles could trade one of these defensive tackles, but there would make more sense to deal one of their ends, considering the surplus at that spot and the fact that they have tackles who could bounce over to end.

The Eagles would also have a decision to make on Patterson if he’s able to return from brain surgery this season. Considering there is no timetable yet for Patterson, though, the PUP list continues to give him and the team time.

 

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