With the potential retirement of legendary defensive tackle Fletcher Cox looming over the heads of the Philadelphia Eagles for a few seasons, he officially hung up his cleats in the 2024 offseason.
The good news is that they prepared for that outcome well in advance.

Drafting Jordan Davis with their 13th overall pick in 2022 and Jalen Carter with their ninth overall pick in 2023, they have loaded up their defensive tackle position.

Both of them are still incredibly young in NFL terms, but they seem to have very high upside.

Davis Could Break Out with More Snaps


Davis has shown some upside in his game over the last two seasons but hasn’t broken out quite yet. While he went from starting just five games in 2022 to all 17 in 2023, he only played 26 percent and 45 percent of defensive snaps in those seasons. For reference, Cox played in 65 and 66 percent of snaps in his last two campaigns in the NFL despite showing some signs of decline.

The best way to develop a player is getting them on the field as much as possible, and that’s sort of the rationale here. Davis has shown flashes of athleticism and has been a difference-maker at times, but he has a lot more to unlock as a top-end draft pick—he can be more noticeable on the field.

Davis is still just 24 years of age, meaning he has plenty of time to reach his ceiling. At his age, he isn’t anywhere near his prime. With Vic Fangio being hired by the Eagles, Davis will be on his fourth different defensive coordinator in his last four seasons of football, spanning back to his final collegiate season with the University of Georgia. That’s a lot of change, so hopefully, a veteran coordinator like Fangio can provide some stability.

Is Carter the Next Big Thing?

Just 23 years old, Carter has serious potential to emerge as the Eagles’ next dominant defensive lineman. He is a very athletic and intelligent player, and he showcased that at the NFL level even though he was just coming out of college. Playing just 51 percent of defensive snaps, he recorded six sacks and forced two fumbles, also scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

Carter finished second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting for 2023, and he did so with a 48.8 percent share of the overall votes. Just looking at the historical context of the award, it would be very unlikely for him to fall off of a cliff at this stage. Seemingly, he can only go up from where he is at.

Like with Davis, the Eagles getting a defensive coordinator like Fangio will help Carter. If the entire defense improves, that will make his job that much easier. Now that he has a year of NFL experience under his belt, big things could be coming for Carter.

Seeing as he was in the upper echelon of defensive tackles as a 22-year-old rookie, one could only imagine he would get better once he has two, three, and four years to learn and grow.

That is a very exciting thing to consider moving forward.

We have established that, individually, both Davis and Carter have a path to greatness. When you combine the two, they can be one of the deadliest defensive duos in the NFL once they reach their prime.
Ironically, this all seems similar to what the Birds already have on offense with wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. For these athletes, the sky is the limit. Philadelphia dominated the trenches throughout the 2010s—now it’s time for the new guys to do the same in the 2020s.


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