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Josh Sweat Can 'Be Free' In Eagles Defense

Josh Sweat is the first to admit he didn't have the college career he envisioned.

Considered by some analysts as the No. 1 overall recruit in the nation entering his senior year at Oscar Smith High School in Chesapeake, Virginia, Sweat tore his ACL and dislocated his left knee in September 2014.

Still one of the most sought-after prospects, the 6-5, 251-pound Sweat committed to Florida State. He rehabbed furiously to avoid a redshirt year and was extremely productive as a true freshman registering 41 tackles, five tackles for loss, and two sacks in 13 games (nine starts). 

Sweat missed one game as a sophomore to repair the meniscus in his left knee, unrelated to the high school injury, but still increased his sack (7) and tackles for loss (11.5) totals.

He declared for the NFL Draft before Florida State's bowl game in 2017 and ended his college career with 138 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, and 14.5 sacks in 37 games (31 starts).

Sweat had an outstanding workout at the NFL Scouting Combine while showcasing a wingspan of over 84 inches. According to Three Sigma Athlete, Sweat's SPARQ score - which takes into account a player's size, timing, and testing numbers to measure a player's overall athleticism - was better than 95 percent of all edge rushers in the league.

However, teams removed Sweat from their draft boards due to concerns about the knee injury from high school. That's why the Eagles were able to get him in the fourth round, considered one of the biggest steals in all of the draft.

"I don't think I had the college career I wanted at all. It doesn't really matter anymore. I'm here," Sweat said. "I feel like I'm in a much better place as far as using my abilities and how they should be used."

The 21-year-old Sweat lined up in a four-point stance and two-gapped at times with the Seminoles. There were plays where Sweat would line up in the B gap and then have to loop around the edge to get to the quarterback.

Not in Philadelphia. Not in Jim Schwartz's scheme, where the defensive coordinator says Sweat can "be free."

Sweat will be able to get off the snap quicker by putting just one hand in the dirt. Lining up wide will allow him to take advantage of that wingspan and elite athleticism to get to the quarterback. The Eagles do like to move quicker pass rushers inside on passing downs and that could give Sweat added flexibility down the line.

Sweat comes to the Eagles without the pressure of being a top pick and able to learn from one of the deepest position groups on the roster.

"I'm excited to learn," he said. "All of those guys are established, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't mind giving some knowledge to a younger guy."

The inability to maximize his collegiate career should leave Sweat hungry to make a more significant mark in the NFL. Schwartz's advice to the rookie was simple.

"Don't be just happy to be here. Make sure you strive for larger things," Sweat recalled. "You're probably going to get cut if you're just happy to be here. "

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