NFL Draft 2021: Eagles' options at defensive tackle

Dave Zangaro
·4 min read
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Exploring Eagles’ options at DT throughout the 2021 draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles already traded down from 6 to 12 and still have 11 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.

While they might not make all 11 picks, they will have plenty of options during the three days of the draft, which begins on April 29.

Here’s a reminder of their 11 picks:

1st round: No. 12 (trade with MIA)

2nd round: No. 37 (own pick)

3rd round: No. 70 (own pick)

3rd round: No. 84 (trade with Colts)

4th round: No. 123 (trade with MIA)

5th round: No. 150 (own pick)

6th round: No. 189 (own pick)

6th round: No. 224 (compensatory pick)

6th round: No. 225 (compensatory pick)

7th round: No. 234 (own pick)

7th round: No. 240 (from 49ers as part of Marquise Goodwin trade)

The Eagles are pretty set right now with Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave for the next couple years and Hassan Ridgeway is back on a one-year deal. But the Eagles are always looking to build through the trenches so it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see them try to reload again. But this DT class isn’t very highly regarded.

Here are their options:

At No. 12

Christian Barmore, Alabama (6-4, 310): The only DT who is a true first-rounder this year and he would be a stretch for the Eagles at 12. Perhaps if they ended up trading down again. But either way, it would be an unpopular pick. As far as the player, Barmore doesn’t have a ton of experience but has a ton of potential and could end up being a great NFL player. Many view him as a boom-bust prospect.

In the middle rounds

Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (6-3, 290): While it still seems unlikely the Eagles use their second-round pick on a DT either, Onwuzurike would be that option. He opted out of the 2020 season but had a really good 2019 as a full-time starter. He’ll probably go in the second round or early third.

Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA (6-2, 282): Sure, Odighizuwa is a tad undersized but he has real pass-rush ability so taking him in a mid or later round would be worth the risk to me. He played as an undersized nose tackle for Chip Kelly and UCLA. Despite his lack of size, he has functional strength and the ability to get in the backfield quickly.

Daviyon Nixon, Iowa (6-3, 313): If Nixon is there when the Eagles get into the third round, they might want to think about it. Nixon had a tremendous 2020 season and was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. And the good news is there’s even more potential. Nixon had 5 1/2 sacks and 13 1/2 TFLs in eight games in Iowa’s two-gapping system. If he plays in a system that lets him attack more, he could become a good NFL starter.

Tommy Togiai, Ohio State (6-1, 296): Slightly undersized but still very strong as evidenced by his 40 reps on the bench at his OSU pro day. Just a one-year starter so there’s not a huge body of work and his numbers weren’t all that impressive in 2020, but he has potential.

Cameron Sample, Tulane (6-3, 267): Sample is a tough one to figure out because some view him as an edge player and others see him as an interior rusher. He might be kind of a tweener. He had a very good Senior Bowl week rushing inside and on the edge. Sample comes from a smaller program but one of his best career games came at Ohio State in 2018, when he had 1 sack, 2 1/2 TFLs and 9 tackles.

Late-round sleeper(s)

Jaylen Twyman, Pittsburgh (6-2, 301): No, he’s not Aaron Donald but Twyman did have 10 1/2 sacks for the Panthers in 2019 to lead the team. He opted out in 2020 but has some ability. Twyman didn’t have a very good pro day but as a late-round pick might offer some upside.

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