Philadelphia Eagles: Give Andy Reid Credit for the Depth on the Defensive Line

Cody SwartzSenior Writer IAugust 1, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 01:  Members of the Philadelphia Eagles defense stand for a photo after defeating the Washington Redskins 34-10 at Lincoln Financial Field on January 1, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

It’s an annual ritual of Andy Reid’s to draft an offensive or defensive lineman in the first round of the NFL draft, as he’s done so in eight of his 11 first rounds since 2000.

This past year, Reid spent a first-round pick on explosive defensive tackle Fletcher Cox out of the University of Mississippi State, even though the team already had two solid starters in Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, and a pair of capable backups in Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri, each of whom was re-signed to a one-year deal.

Then he picked defensive end Vinny Curry out of Marshall in the second round, even though the team had Pro Bowlers Trent Cole and Jason Babin, plus former first-round pick Brandon Graham, as well as solid backups in Phillip Hunt and Darryl Tapp. It seemed to be almost an overload on Reid’s part, but now it’s looking like a great move.

Babin is out for two to three weeks with a partially torn calf muscle, Cole has a shoulder problem that will keep him out for about a week, Patterson is dealing with what could be a very serious brain issue, and Jenkins has a hamstring injury that will require an MRI. That means the entire defensive line at practice right now consists of the second-stringers, and give Reid credit for stocking the team with enough depth that the unit should still be a fine group of linemen.

Reid’s philosophy has always been to rotate his defensive linemen frequently, and this year’s depth is as good as it’s ever been in Philly. The injuries open up opportunities for young players Curry and Graham to break out, and Cox—who definitely would have had some serious playing time anyway—will be starting over Patterson for now. This year’s Eagles team has a chance to do what the 2007 New York Giants did in terms of pressuring the quarterback, and it’s not unreasonable to expect 60 sacks from this talented unit.