The Emergence of Josh Sweat
Typically, conversations surrounding the Eagles’ defensive line begin with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham and rightfully so. Both players are pro bowlers and have left strong impacts the last several years on the Eagles’ defense. This season, the Eagles have ushered in a new era up front. Derek Barnett has continued to progress and more notably, Josh Sweat emerged as one of the Eagles’ best lineman this past season.
Sweat was a 2018 4th round selection from Florida State and had quite the breakout year for the Eagles. He’s started to solidify himself amongst some of the league’s best, young lineman. Sweat’s play isn’t discussed as much as it should be, mainly because of players like Cox, Graham, and Hargrave. Despite that, he is well deserving of praise. At Florida State, Josh was the talk of the CFB world totaling 12.5 sacks, 24 tackles for loss, and 97 tackles over two seasons.
Going into the draft, Sweat’s biggest knock was his health. Knee issues almost prevented him from playing football back in high school with some doctors saying he would never see the field again. Sweat tore his ACL and dislocated his knee back in 2014 while he was being recruited. Since that injury, Sweat has made it look like nothing even happened. His athleticism and speed never skipped a beat.
At 23, Sweat had 6 sacks in the 2020 season and likely would’ve surpassed several of his teammates’ statistics at the same age if he played through the end of the year. Josh Sweat finished only second in sacks, tackles for loss, tackles, and QB hits between him, Graham, Cox, and Derek Barnett when they were 23. Sweat only needed a sack, four tackles, and two tackles for loss to take sole possession in first in all of those stats.
In comparison to the rest of the league, Sweat was tied for 12th in the NFL in sacks and only Devin White and Brian Burns had more sacks than him at a younger age. This was before he was placed on IR due to a wrist injury sustained against the Saints. Sweat was third on the Eagles in sacks and the group was the only team to have 4 players over 5.5 sacks before he was hurt.
From 2019 to 2020 Sweat has almost doubled his tackle and sack total while adding all 3 of his forced fumbles in his career. The numbers across the board show he is a legitimate threat. Even without the numbers, watching the film you can how big of a presence Sweat has on the Eagles’ defensive line.
His speed is amongst the NFL’s best and is the perfect compliment to Derek Barnett on the opposite side for the future. With both Sweat and Barnett’s contracts running up in 2021 it will be vital to retain both of these guys for the foreseeable future.
Mandatory Credit: Tim Hawk NJ Advance Media