Eagles vs. Patriots: Defensive Rookies to Watch During Monday Night's Action
On Monday night, they'll both get to showcase just how well they accomplished that goal.
The Pats made the Super Bowl last season, sure, but it wasn't because of their pass defense. They had 282.9 passing yards allowed per game, second worst in the NFL, as well as 7.5 yards per pass allowed, fifth worst.
In an effort to shore up that side of the ball, they spent their first six draft picks on defensive players.
The Eagles, on the other hand, while fairly stout in terms of total yards and points, struggled against the run. They gave up 112.6 yards per game and 4.4 yards per rush, both numbers that landed them in the bottom half of the league.
They spent their first three draft picks on defensive players.
Whose young defensive rookies are better?
Add it all together, and you have an incredibly intriguing Monday Night Football matchup, even if it is the preseason. Both teams are explosive on offensive and both have tremendous young talent on the other side of the ball.
Let's take a look at what youngsters you should watch.
Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles
While the Eagles' linebacking corps was particularly dreadful last season, there's no better way to improve the run defense than by drafting a big athletic defensive tackle like Fletcher Cox.
The former Mississippi State stud is a versatile gem who can move around the defensive line. He's been impressive for Philadelphia so far, which is important considering the Eagles traded up to get him.
Look for the big boy to continue to cause havoc in the backfield.
Chandler Jones, DE, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick and the Patriots shockingly moved up in the first round, and while many expected New England to select a defensive back, Jones helps the pass defense just as well.
Jones was a stud at Syracuse, and although he didn't record a ton of sacks, he knows how to bring pressure in the backfield and is stout in the run game, as well. Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who named Jones as the Defensive Player of Week 1, had this to say:
On his second play as a pro, Jones, starting at right end, pushed New Orleans left tackle Jermon Bushrod back into Drew Brees' lap, forcing Brees to roll right and throw an incompletion. Jones got good push on the next snap as well, and I am reminded of what Mike Mayock said on draft day about Jones, the 21st pick in round one last April: He said Jones' best football was ahead of him, and he'd turn out to be the best defensive player to come out of this draft.
I'd call that a pretty good start for the young stud.
Mychal Kendricks, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
Who are you most looking forward to watching?
The rookie linebacker out of Cal is extremely talented and, despite being undersized, he will bring the Eagles much needed athleticism in the middle of their defense.
On Monday, however, he has a matchup that will be a little different than covering Pac-12 offenses.
Kendricks will have the unfortunate task of matching up with New England's ridiculous tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Good luck, young man.
Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots
Alabama's defense in 2011 was basically that of an NFL team, so it's impressive that Hightower was essentially the leader of that unit.
And it's not hard to see why.
He's not the most athletic player in the world, but Hightower is a force in the middle as he knows how to shed blocks, take good angles and wrap up perfectly. He's a prototypical middle linebacker and should improve the Pats' defense greatly.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?