Position Analysis: Defensive Line

If there is any one unit on the Eagles that drew a lot of fire in 2005, it was the play of the folks on the defensive line. With almost no pass rush to speak of and players that were constantly manhandled, the defensive line could - and should - look very different next season.

Starters: LE Jevon Kearse, LT Mike Patterson, RT Darwin Walker, RE Trent Cole.
Backups: N.D. Kalu, Jerome McDougle, Hollis Thomas, Sam Rayburn.

The play of this unit was one of the most disappointing aspects of the 2005 season. Their inability to get pressure on the quarterback resulted in the Eagles' lowest sack total in a quarter-century and put enormous pressure on a secondary that gave up 24 touchdown passes. When the Eagles let Corey Simon become a free agent in August, they lost their best interior pass-rusher.

Patterson, the club's first-round pick, played pretty well for a rookie, but Walker was a major disappointment. So was Kearse, despite his 7 1/2 sacks. He never has developed an inside pass-rush move, which has enabled tackles to ride him to the outside. McDougle, the Eagles' 2003 first-round pick, missed the entire season after getting shot just before the start of training camp. The Eagles likely will look for inside and outside pass-rush help in free agency and the draft.

John Abraham of the Jets, Darren Howard of the Saints and Rocky Bernard of the Seahawks are all free agents and may get a call from the Eagles. It's also likely that the Eagles first pick in the draft will be a player that can provide immediate help on pass-rushing.


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