Everything in me hopes Trent Cole will transform back to the extremely underrated defensive end who stopped the pass and the run for so many years. But the switch to the 3-4 defense will be difficult, and Cole will have to ward off Brandon Graham for snaps.
2013 Predictions: 5.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, 23 quarterback pressures, 32 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery
After an 11.5-sack campaign in 2011, Connor Barwin dropped off to just three in 2012. There's reason for optimism though, as Barwin has played in a 3-4 defense before. And he did put up 12 quarterback hits a year ago, which ranked tied for second-best among 3-4 outside linebackers, per Pro Football Focus. Barwin is a former second-round draft pick with the potential to get 10 or more sacks.
2013 Predictions: 6.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 26 quarterback pressures, 42 tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one interception
The switch to a 3-4 should benefit the athletic Brandon Graham, a pass-rushing force who quietly broke out in 2012. Graham's 31 quarterback pressures in just 435 defensive snaps was the most efficient pass rushing ratio of any player in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.
2013 Predictions: 11.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, 40 quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one interception
Many people have questioned DeMeco Ryans' ability to transition back to a 3-4 defense, one that eventually forced his way out of Houston. However, Ryans' 2011 struggles could be more attributed to a torn Achilles tendon from the previous season. Houston's decision to trade him likely stemmed from the improvement of Brian Cushing and the high cap hit Ryans would bring. Still, Ryans is entering his eighth season and he doesn't possess sideline-to-sideline speed or elite coverage skills anymore.
2013 Predictions: 72 tackles, six tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, one interception
Mychal Kendricks is a player who should excel in the new 3-4 formation, given his 4.47 40 speed. He can cover tight ends, although his biggest problem a year ago was a high percentage of missed tackles.
2013 Predictions: 68 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one touchdown
Cary Williams was signed to a three-year deal that expects him to be the top corner on the Eagles, although he's had an offseason to forget thus far. Williams isn't as good as his four interceptions or 17 passes defensed from 2012 because he's a boom-or-bust player in coverage.
2013 Predictions: 12 games played, two interceptions, nine passes defensed, five touchdowns allowed, 105.4 passer rating allowed
Brandon Boykin has been lighting up training camp thus far, and it looks as if he may steal the starting spot from Bradley Fletcher. Boykin is undersized at 5'9", but that didn't stop Antoine Winfield from having an extremely impressive Pro Bowl career. If Boykin can prove he's physical enough, he will get his chance to play on the outside.
2013 Predictions: three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, one forced fumble, 80.4 passer rating allowed on 92 targets