The NFL Free Agency period has been crazy. WR DeAndre Hopkins was traded to the Cardinals. Stefon Diggs was traded to the Bills. Former backup LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai inked a luxurious 5 year/ $50 million deal. And all these moves all happened in the first day. With all of these big name players being moved, the Eagles signed someone that some Eagles fans may not have even known: Javon Hargrave. A player who was underused in the Steelers system, Hargrave, AKA the “Grave Digger”, is a NT/DT that can get to the quarterback in a hurry. He registered 6 sacks in a scheme that didn’t even favor him. Schwartz’s 4-3 defense combined with the fact that he will lined up next to Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and a multitude of other talented pass rushers, makes the Eagles’ defensive line scary.
Similar to Fletcher Cox, his pure strength makes him a nightmare for offensive linemen. Don’t forget, the Eagles also have Malik Jackson, a talented interior lineman whose season was cut short last year, on the inside as well. Last year, Cox saw a plethora of double teams come his way. Malik Jackson was supposed to help Cox break out, but his injury allowed opposing teams to double Cox and because Schwartz rarely blitzes, this allowed for one on ones on the outside. Doubling Cox and leaving Hargraves and/or Jackson in a one on one is something that teams just can’t afford to do. This signing is great for Cox in particular.
Hargraves is a short and compact player who has a powerful bull rush. You’re not going to get the finesse in the big fella as you may see in Cox, but he knows how to use his hands and how to attack offensive linemen. He may not be the run stopper that you may expect him to be, but the Eagles are already tremendous at stopping the run, as they ranked in the top 3 in rushing yards allowed, but ranked in the middle of the pack in sacks per game. And the importance that he can now play in a scheme that fits the way he plays cannot be stressed enough. Hargrave was shadowed by Tuitt in his time in Pittsburgh and was able to perform when given the opportunity. The Steelers just had to choose between Dupree and Hargrave. The Eagles should be thankful they chose Dupree.
Many people such as myself wanted the Eagles to make a splash and sign Byron Jones or trade for Stefon Diggs. The thing with football is that one improvement can have a domino effect. A more talented defensive line will help the secondary defend deep passes because the QB will have less time to throw. Now as of March 17th, the Eagles have not done enough this free agency. But after cooling down, I realize how valuable the Hargrave signing is. I’m extremely excited to see what he can do in Philadelphia.