Philadelphia Eagles: 25 is the year Josh Sweat becomes a star

(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
(Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

On March 29th, 1997, Josh Sweat was born. On September 18th, 2021, Josh Sweat received a three-year, $40 million contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles. And on Sunday, August… to be determined, Josh Sweat becomes a star.

Is that a bold assertion? Maybe so, Sweat did just finish off his first year as a more-or-less full-time starter in his fourth NFL season, but after recording a career-high 7.5 sacks over 655 defensive snaps and becoming a Pro Bowler for the first time in his still-young career, the trend lines are pointing straight up for another massive season for the former fourth-round pick out of Florida State.

Why? Well, look at the defense the Birds have built around him.

The Birds brought back Derek Barnett and Fletcher Cox, upgraded the second level of their defense with former Charger Kyzir White, and secured the services of Haason Reddick, who is just as fast as Sweat coming off the edge and should garner more double-teams from opposing tight ends than his homegrown counterpart. Factor in the natural progression of Sweat as a player, as he’s now fully in his NFL prime, and the Philadelphia Eagles might just have the makings of a full-blown star on their hands.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ 2018 draft class appears foundational.

The Philadelphia Eagles drafted five players in the 2018 NFL Draft. Coming off their first Super Bowl win in franchise history, the team was riding high on a mountain of momentum, dubbed a free agent destination by vets looking to secure a ring, and many assumed that the winning ways under Doug Pederson would continue indefinitely.

To his credit, Howie Roseman didn’t rest on his laurels two months after his big win. Armed with the 32nd overall pick and a need to recoup some assets surrendered in the Carson Wentz trade, Roseman dealt the final pick in the first round to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a pair of second-round selections and ultimately exited the weekend with five new players: Dallas Goedert, Avonte Maddox, Josh Sweat, Matt Pryor, and Jordan Mailata.

Of those players, four are still with the team on new, long-term contract extensions, and the fifth, Pryor, is weirdly expected to earn the first crack at the Indianapolis Colts’ left tackle in 2022, which, is an… interesting choice to pair with a 36-year-old quarterback not particularly known for his athleticism inside – or out – of the pocket.

That, my friends, is a pretty incredible hit rate, one unmatched by any of the team’s previous five drafts.

In Goedert, the Eagles secured a franchise tight end with such a high upside, Roseman was comfortable trading away Zach Ertz, one of the cornerstone players of the previous era, to free up a featured role in Nick Sirianni’s offense moving forward. While the Birds should still secure a second tight end to pair up with him moving forward, someone like UCLA’s Greg Dulcich on Day 2 of the draft, Goedert finished out the 2021 second as the Eagles’ second-leading receiver, and that shouldn’t change too much moving forward.

And as for Goedert’s long-time roommate, Maddox? Well, after bouncing around the defensive secondary over the first three seasons of his pro career, he finally landed at his natural spot in the slot and unsurprisingly became an incredibly high-level performer who really should have earned more recognition for the Pro Bowl due to his impressive numbers. Assuming the Eagles secure a solid CB2 to play opposite Darius Slay one way or another, expect to see Maddox finally provide Philly with some consistency in the slot, something they’ve been lacking since Brandon Boykins’ three-season run a decade ago.

With his run on ‘The Masked Singer’ now in the rearview, Mailata is back to the City of Brotherly Love and will surely continue to play so well at the left tackle spot that players like Evan Neal, who is expected to go very high in the 2022 NFL Draft, gets compared to him on his draft profile. Not too shabby for a former seventh-round pick who never played organized football before.

Surely the Eagles’ 2021 “core four” will continue to be focal points of the franchise for years to come, but of the quartet, only one, Sweat, has actually earned a(n alternate) trip to the Pro Bowl, which should be his first of many in a midnight green uniform. According to Pro Football Focus, Sweat was the Eagles’ second-best defensive player behind only Darius Slay and the 21st-ranked edge rusher across the NFL, which is probably an underestimate but is impressive nonetheless.

If those four players can continue to shine and even take another step forward in 2022, the Eagles’ future might be a good bit brighter than some outside observers may believe.

Next. Good, let Kyle Hamilton slip all the way to 15. dark

In 2022, the Philadelphia Eagles have 10 picks to play with in the fourth coming draft. Could this year’s crop of players prove just as transformative, or even potentially more so? With five picks in the top-100, the cards are certainly shaping up for that to be the case, but for Howie Roseman and company to really take things over the top, he needs to hit another home run like Josh Sweat’s addition in the fourth round, as he was able to secure a star pass rusher roughly 120 picks after they typically come off the board.