Eagles hunting for defensive linemen
The changes on the Eagles defensive line started two weeks ago when Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins were released. Which defensive scheme the Eagles will use has not been disclosed, but the cuts were the first steps of a transition. Expect the Eagles to play a 3-4 or a 4-3 under scheme, which is a hybrid of the 3-4. That means the Eagles need a nose tackle, and they'll have a defensive end/outside linebacker who's primarily a pass rusher but also would drop into coverage. The Eagles have only three sure linemen on the roster: Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, and Antonio Dixon. Cox is the lone player in the group who is a sure starter, and the Eagles will try to see what Dixon can do at nose tackle. That's not where Dixon's experience is, so the position is a definite need for the Eagles. And although Thornton is promising, his inexperience will require competition. Among the free agents, pay attention to San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois, who is 26 and has only five career starts in four years. Jean-Francois, 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, is versatile enough to play different spots on the defensive line and excels as a pass rusher.
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