In 2013, the Eagles implemented a new defensive scheme. For the most part, they were forced to fit a lot of players into this system who weren’t natural fits or who had never played in that type of system. They had a bit of success during the year, but there’s a ton of room for improvement.
Heading into the 2014, the Eagles will have the opportunity to build their defensive personnel with players they think will be better fits. One piece they will need to look to address during the offseason is adding a gifted pass rusher. They didn’t have a natural 3-4 edge rusher last year and can’t afford to go another year without adding one.
One potential target will be Auburn’s Dee Ford. At 6-2 and 252 pounds, Ford is a natural stand-up pass rusher that attacks the quarterback in violent fashion. He is very explosive off the line and gives many offensive tackles trouble in trying to keep him from beating them to the edge. This is a critical ability as it forces quarterbacks to become uncomfortable and often leave the pocket.
Ford had a strong 2013 campaign where he totaled 14.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks as he helped Auburn reach the National Championship. He continued to impress at this year’s Senior Bowl where he caught many scouts eyes during practice and solidified the week with a strong performance in the game.
Check out this video of Ford during the BCS National Championship Game, via DraftBreadkown.com
One knock against Ford is his size. He’s not an overly big defender and there is concern that he may struggle at the next level against larger and more talented offensive tackles. His smaller frame limits him a bit in his pass rushing ability as his main move is trying to beat his opponent to the edge. If he gets swallowed up off the line, he struggles to get off blocks.
A talented edge rusher is definitely a big hole for the Eagles. They struggled to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback and their mediocre secondary got swallowed alive. Heading into 2014, they could use a gifted pass rusher with the ability to provide consistent pressure on the quarterback. Ford has the speed and energy (dare I say high motor?) to help fill a gaping hole on the Eagles defense for years to come.
Ford has been a guy associated with the Eagles and a guy that Mike Mayock said he could see him landing with the Birds. He may very well be on the board when the Eagles are on the clock. The question will be what grade the Eagles have given Ford and who else remains on the board. If they’ve rated him high enough, he could definitely be a target to help improve the defensive unit that can clearly use all the help it can get.