Offseason Outlook: Defensive Line

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
This week, we’ll continue to offer offseason outlooks for the Eagles, position-by-position. Each day, we’ll answer a pressing question and rank the position on the priority scale. First up was quarterback. We covered running backswide receiverstight ends and the offensive line. Now onto the defensive line.

PRESSING QUESTION: Will Bennie Logan go into 2014 as the starting nose tackle?

McManus: I believe he will.

Overall, I thought Logan acquitted himself well in his rookie season. The Eagles felt comfortable dealing Isaac Sopoaga and handing the starting job to the LSU product, who finished with two sacks, seven hurries and 43 tackles (two for loss). He took to the techniques taught by Jerry Azzinaro and Billy Davis and was part of a young defensive front that proved to be a strength of this team.

The 6-2, 309-pound Logan may not have a traditional frame for a 3-4 nose tackle but proved capable of occupying defenders and generating a push, though there is room for improvement in both areas. Just 24-years-old, he can add mass and power going forward. Damion Square is the only other player currently listed as a defensive tackle on the roster.

Kapadia: I’ll take the other side on this one, T-Mac.

When the Eagles were searching for a nose tackle last offseason, they signed 330-pound Sopoaga. We know Chip Kelly is a measurables guy, and we all are familiar with the “big people” preference. If ever there were a position where that would come into play, my guess is it would be nose tackle.

The problem last year was that Sopoaga flat-out couldn’t play. Logan did a nice job, all things considered. But my guess is they’ll bring in some competition and likely a guy with more size. If Logan wins the starting job, great. If not, he’ll still have a role as a rotational lineman and backup nose tackle.

PRIORITY SCALE: FROM 1 TO 5

* 1 indicates there is no need at all to address the position in free agency or the draft. 5 means it’s of the highest priority that the Eagles focus on the position in the coming months.

McManus: I’m at a two. Logan (24), Fletcher Cox (23) and Cedric Thornton (25) anchored a unit that showed real potential. Vinny Curry (25), despite a position change and limited playing time, finished third on the team in hurries (11) and sacks (4). Chances are he is staying put, and could become an impact player as he grows into his new role.

The 6-6 Joe Kruger spent his rookie year on IR. He is a developmental player with ability. Square will fight for a spot on the d-line this offseason, and Clifton Geathers is a free agent. Oregon product Brandon Bair (6-6, 285) was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2013.

The Eagles will look to add depth but I don’t see this as a need position. Lean on the young talent and let them develop.

Kapadia: I go higher. I’m at a three and gave serious consideration to a four.

I think defensive line depth is an underrated need area on this team. I’m with you on Cox and Thornton. They’re both excellent 3-4 defensive ends who should only get better in Year 2. And we talked about Logan in the first section. But I think the preference of Azzinaro, Davis and Kelly would be to rotate bodies more in 2014.

Curry had some very nice moments as a pass-rusher, but slowed down the stretch, going without a sack (three hurries) in the team’s final seven games. I don’t expect Geathers to be back, and Square will have to fight for a roster spot.

I won’t be surprised if the Eagles spend an early draft pick on the defensive line. Only three guys start, but to have a really strong unit up front, you need to get contributions from all six.

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