Are the 2020 Eagles better or worse at defensive tackle?

Andrew Kulp
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman says the Eagles are a better football team after free agency and the draft. We're putting his claim to the test, breaking down the depth chart position by position to examine whether the roster really improved or actually took a step back this offseason.

Up next: Defensive tackle, where the Eagles continued to invest heavily with the free agent addition of Javon Hargrave.

Better

Whether the Eagles needed another interior lineman is a topic of some debate, but there's no question Hargrave is a talented player.

The fastest path to the quarterback is up the middle, and Hargrave has the ability to run around or right through anybody who gets in his way. The 27-year-old registered 10.5 sacks over the last two seasons while playing the not-glamorous nose tackle position in the Steelers' 3-4 defense. Hargrave will be turned loose in Jim Schwartz's wide-9 scheme, where he could conceivably approach double digits in a single campaign. The biggest impediment might be playing time in a crowded group with Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson.

Worse

It's hard to find much negative to say about a pair of Pro Bowlers, but Cox and in particular Jackson are getting a little older at 29 and 30, respectively. Perhaps that, along with their recent injuries, is why the Eagles felt the need to add the younger Hargrave.

Turning 30 isn't necessarily the kiss of death, especially for powerful interior linemen. If you think Cox or Jackson suddenly aren't going to be able to toss blockers around like rag dolls, you're sorely mistaken. Yet it certainly is possible, if not probable, that they're slowing down after some significant injuries and their best days are behind them.

The same

Even if Cox has peaked - and that is a huge if - after eight seasons, the Eagles know exactly what they're getting. When healthy, the five-time Pro Bowler commands constant double teams. He's too strong for one blocker.

Cox was never really 100 percent last year. He spent the offseason rehabbing and wasn't quite back to his old self when the games began, then by the time he got his legs back, he was hurt again. As long as the injuries aren't going to be a thing, Cox will continue to be a handful for opposing offenses.

The unknown

It will be interesting to see how the Eagles get Cox, Jackson and Hargrave on the field considering two defensive tackles generally play at a time.

Obviously, it's a position where there tends to be a lot of rotation to keep all those big 300-pounders fresh. Cox has traditionally played around 75-80 percent of the snaps though - will they dial that back? And while he and perhaps Jackson will get some work at defensive end, it's not their natural position.

At least it's a good problem to have.

Better or worse?

Not only did the Eagles sign Hargrave, a move that would've improved the unit by itself, but Jackson returns after missing virtually the entire 2019 season. Cox should finally be healthy too after a lost year of sorts. Even Hassan Ridgeway is back from an injury. You know it's a deep group when a kid like Anthony Rush, who was a nice surprise as a mid-season addition, is going to have trouble cracking this roster.

Better 

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Are the 2020 Eagles better or worse at defensive tackle? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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