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Training Camp Position Preview: Edge Rusher

Haason Reddick

The Eagles have a lot of versatility up front, and that extends to the edge positions. Of course, they feature Haason Reddick, a dominating player who had 16 quarterback sacks in the regular season and then added 3.5 in the postseason. Reddick was more than just a sackmaster in 2022, of course. He had 49 total tackles, 26 quarterback hits, 11 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries on his way to Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors. Brandon Graham is back for his 14th NFL season as the longest-tenured member of the team. He's coming off a year in which he set a new career high with 11 sacks. Josh Sweat, a double-digit sack producer in 2022 after a Pro Bowl season in 2021, is a complete player who is in the prime of his career.

The Eagles added more power here in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, selecting Georgia's Nolan Smith with the 30th overall pick and Smith brings tenacity to the edge position against the run, relentlessness chasing down quarterbacks and ball carriers, and speed to cover when he's asked to drop back in the passing game. Veteran Derek Barnett returns after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 last year and the Eagles will take a long look at some young players who have an opportunity to earn some reps: Tarron Jackson, in his third season; Kyron Johnson, who played sparingly in the defense as a rookie but had an impact on special teams with seven tackles (tied for second highest on the team); Patrick Johnson, who wants to build on a steady increase in defensive reps – 111 as a rookie and 213 snaps last season; Janarius Robinson, acquired last season off of Minnesota's practice squad; and Matt Leo, signed to the roster after spending three seasons here as part of the NFL's International Player Pathway Program. – Dave Spadaro

Did You Know?

• Haason Reddick signed with the Eagles in the 2022 free agency period and posted 16 quarterback sacks in 17 regular season games, the second-highest sack total in the NFL.

• Brandon Graham recorded 11 quarterback sacks in 2022, the first time he had reached double digits in that category in his career, and Graham was so productive playing just 43 percent of the team's defensive snaps.

• Josh Sweat leads the Eagles with 28.5 sacks since the start of the 2019 campaign.

• Derek Barnett, a first-round draft pick in 2017, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Week 1 win at Detroit in 2022.

• Tarron Jackson played in four games, with 27 defensive snaps, in the 2022 campaign.

• Kyron Johnson made his biggest contribution on special teams with seven total tackles, and also saw action in 18 defensive snaps in his rookie season.

• Patrick Johnson played in 213 snaps last season with seven total tackles, three quarterbacks hits, one forced fumble, and one recovered fumble.

• Janarius Robinson opened the season on Minnesota's practice squad and was signed to the Eagles' active roster in Week 2 of the 2022 season.

• Matt Leo spent the 2022 season on the team's practice squad, his final year in the NFL's International Player Pathway Program.

What Does the Film Show?

The Eagles added Haason Reddick last offseason and he provided a huge boost to the pass rush, becoming the first player in NFL history to post double-digit sacks in three consecutive seasons for three separate teams. Reddick competed well against the run, played with a consistent motor, and had opposing tackles on skates all season long. My favorite part of Reddick's game, though? His ability to get the ball back for the offense. No one has been better at this in the NFL than Reddick over the last couple of seasons.

Opposite Reddick with the Eagles' first-team unit was Josh Sweat, who once again proved to be a valuable piece up front. Sweat has outstanding length, which helps him in a number of ways when taking on opposing offensive linemen. Whether it's winning at the top of the rush, setting a strong edge in the run game, or even closing up pass lanes, Sweat is going to continue to be a huge part of the Eagles' defensive front. – Fran Duffy

Key Stat

71 – Reddick finished 12th in the NFL last season with 71 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. That said, the 11 guys ahead of him all had anywhere from 35 to 200 more pass rush snaps than he did! With the Eagles resting starters at the end of many games and with the deep rotation up front, Reddick did not have to play as often as his peers. No one was more impactful on a per-snap basis than Reddick in 2022.

New to the Nest

• Nolan Smith – The team's second first-round pick was a two-time National Champion at Georgia, where he finished his career with 114 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks. At the NFL Scouting Combine, Smith was the heaviest player to ever run a sub-4.4 (4.39) in the 40-yard dash and leap 40-plus inches (41.5) in the vertical jump.

They Said It

"I feel great and I feel like the best is yet to come. You figure this game out after you've been here for some time and you know what you have to do to take your game to new levels. I know it's being cliché, but it's about being consistent and building off what usually works for you. Whatever you're good at, just get better at that and stick with it." – Josh Sweat

Check out the edge rushers on the Eagles' roster heading into Training Camp, presented by Independence Blue Cross. Players are listed in numerical order.

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