The Philadelphia Eagles’ long-standing philosophy of “building in the trenches” should be in full force this offseason. Armed with three first-round picks in a stellar lineman draft, the Eagles’ needs and desires will be met by the upside of a rookie class that has plenty of potential on the lines.

Howie Roseman is hunting for hunters

The Eagles finished with just 29 sacks last season. That total ranked 31st overall in the NFL, a rapid decline from 2020 when the defense produced 49 sacks and placed third in the league.

With the pass rush failing to get home, the Eagles were carved up by talented quarterbacks throughout the season. Eagles GM Howie Roseman, speaking at the NFL Combine on Wednesday, acknowledged that he needs to continue to add to the defensive end room.

“The bottom line is we didn’t get enough pressure on the quarterback,” Roseman said. “We have to have pressure on the quarterback. We have to continue to have pressure on the quarterback. It’s a priority to us. We’ll have opportunities this offseason to do it, and I would be very surprised if we didn’t do something there.”

The free agent class is full of intriguing pass-rushing talent

The Eagles have roughly $20 million in salary cap space entering free agency. That total should give them some flexibility on the open market. Big-name pass-rushing talents like Harold Landry of the Tennessee Titans and Jadeveon Clowney of the Cleveland Browns would cost a pretty penny. But Roseman could maneuver around the salary cap to get one of those pass rushers to partner with Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury.

If the Eagles decide to pass on the premier options, they could turn to rotational pass rushers like Jordan Willis of the San Francisco 49ers, Tyquan Lewis of the Indianapolis Colts, or Lorenzo Carter of the New York Giants.

Derek Barnett’s status is worth watching

While former first-round pick Derek Barnett has drawn the ire of Eagles fans because of his inconsistent pass-rushing success and consistent penalties, the team is higher on him than most perceive. Barnett is set to become a free agent later this month. While he will look to cash in a long-term contract, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him return to the Eagles on a one-year deal.

Barnett has had a new defensive line coach in each of the past three seasons. With Tracy Rocker sticking around this year, the continuity could prove to be appealing to the young pass rusher, especially if his market is underwhelming after a 2-sack campaign.

The 2022 NFL Draft offers a treasure trove of potential at pass rusher

The Eagles have three first-round picks and all are within the top 20 selections. That should put the Eagles in range to land a stellar EDGE prospect to grow with Sweat and former sixth-round pick Tarron Jackson.

Purdue’s George Karlaftis, Georgia’s Travon Walker, Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson II, and Michigan’s David Ojabo could all be in play with one of the Eagles’ first two picks. The defensive line class has earned rave reviews from analysts. The depth goes beyond the first-round options, so the Eagles could double-dip or stay patient with EDGE rushers.

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