Philadelphia Eagles: Treyvon Hester has out played Hassan Ridgeway

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) /

While the Philadelphia Eagles invested a sixth-round pick to trade for Hassan Ridgeway, Treyvon Hester is more deserving of the team’s final defensive tackle spot.

When the Philadelphia Eagles traded their final pick in the 2019 NFL Draft (246th overall) to the Indianapolis Colts for soon-to-be fourth-year defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, it seemed like the death knell in Treyvon Hester‘s chances to make the team.

And throughout the ups and downs of summer, that narrative never really changed.

Typically paired together over the preseason as the second-team defensive tackles, Hester and Ridgeway have played each other close to even over the last four weeks, with the latter having a slight statistical edge with one more tackle and the lone defensive tackle sack against the New York Jets.

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In an ideal world, the Eagles would simply keep both players and roll deep at defensive tackle, but with Vinny Curry slated to earn snaps on the interior on obvious passing downs, that just feels wasteful.

No, if the Eagles opt to keep a fourth defensive tackle behind starting trio Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, and Timmy Jernigan the choice feels obvious: Keep Treyvon Hester.

Now granted, that may seem like a bit of a contrarian opinion, but when you put on the tape, specifically Week 4 of the preseason where the duo played side-by-side for most of the game, Hester clearly looks like the more advanced, and versatile player – despite being two years older and having one less season of NFL experience.

You see, Hester’s style of play is virtually tailor-made for Jim Schwartz‘s attacking 4-3 scheme, where he lines up on the guard’s outside shoulder. With a surprising amount of wiggle and a lightning-fast first step for a 300 pounder – which makes sense when you consider he ran a 4.8 40 at his pro day –  Hester can burst through a gap, and still clog-up his hole if a presumed passing play turns into a run.

Hester also has the kind of motor to remain engaged on a play even when the ball isn’t coming his way. Granted, it may not be as active as potential practice squad target Aziz Shittu, but what Hester lacks in negotiating skills, he more than makes up for in special teams prowess.

Weirdly enough, Hester is an absolute nightmare on special teams.

Maybe it’s because of his blend of size and speed, but the Eagles used Hester on 94 special teams snaps last season, and he rewarded Dave Fipp for his confidence by blocking a Cody Parkey kick that essentially signed the team’s ticket to a second-round divisional round bout against the New Orleans Saints.

With Cox, Jackson, and Jernigan all expected to earn at least 700 snaps in Schwartz’s rotation, the Eagles’ fourth tackle probably won’t get too many chances to see the field on the defensive side of the ball. If the front office opts to keep a player like Hester on the roster over Ridgeway, they can confidently keep four defensive linemen active on game day, and not have to worry about rearranging their special teams unit.

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While conventional wisdom would suggest that the Philadelphia Eagles should retain Hassan Ridgeway based on the price they paid to acquire him alone, that’s the beauty of the NFL: It’s a meritocracy. If Howie Roseman is serious about keeping the most talented players possible in the City of Brotherly Love come Week 1, the choice to give Treyvon Hester the final defensive tackle spot just feels like the right call if everything is even.