Jason Kelce reminded everyone that “hungry dogs run faster” after the Eagles won Super Bowl LII. Those same hungry dogs also have to eat.
Javon Hargrave, arguably the steal of 2020 free agency, conducted a recent conference call with reporters where he described his mindset and how he fits into the Eagles’ attacking defensive scheme. The 27-year-old couldn’t contain his excitement about being a part of a defensive line that includes Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Malik Jackson and Derek Barnett. Hargrave was relegated to nose tackle in Pittsburgh and still racked up 14.5 sacks in four seasons there.
But Hargrave has always been a hungry pass-rusher first and a willing run-stopper second, a challenging skillset sometimes in a 3-4 defense. In Philadelphia, he will be asked to attack the quarterback and bring pressure in spurts as he joins a talented rotation of sack-hungry ends and tackles. It’s the perfect job description for the 305-pounder behemoth.
“A lotta ‘dawgs’ on that line,” Hargrave said of the Eagles. “It’s like I’m back at home, with a bunch of dawgs, ready to eat. I just love when you’ve got a lot of great players around, it really ups your game, it helps you get better as a football player.”
The former third-round pick out of South Carolina State finished with 49 pressures, four sacks and 60 tackles in 16 games last season for the Steelers. The Eagles inked him to a three-year, $39 million deal, including $26 million fully guaranteed this offseason. He will be expected to anchor the defensive line.
Eagles Almost Drafted Hargrave in 2016
The Eagles rearranged their entire draft board in 2016 after giving up a king’s ransom to move up and take Carson Wentz. They shelled out four picks — two first-rounders, plus a third- and fourth-round pick — to Cleveland in exchange for the rights to the second overall pick. That pick turned out to be Wentz.
There was another guy who the Eagles gave an extended look to that same year. Javon Hargrave was coming off back-to-back double-digit sack seasons at South Carolina State (16 sacks in 2015, 13.5 sacks in 2016) and Philadelphia brought him in for a pre-draft workout. Everything went amazingly well, according to Hargrave, and he thought the Eagles might draft him in the third round.
Instead, the Eagles took Isaac Seumalo at No. 79 and Hargrave went 10 picks later at No. 89. It wasn’t meant to be at the time but life has come full circle now. Hargrave is anxious to show his new squad what he can do.
“That was one of the teams that I thought was going to draft me,” Hargrave told reporters on a conference call. “I was telling all my friends and my family that I think I have a chance of going to the Eagles. Back then I felt they really liked me when they worked me out. It didn’t work out then, but God always has a plan and somehow it ended up working out this time. I’m just happy to be here.”
Perfect Fit for Jim Schwartz’s Defensive Scheme
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz prefers athletic defensive ends and tackles who can apply pressure. His system preaches getting to the quarterback no matter the cost. It’s a philosophy that sometimes leaves his cornerbacks out to dry and one that demands smart play upfront. The addition of Javon Hargrave could wind up being the single most important move of the offseason for Philadelphia. Hargrave is already champing at the bit.
“The Eagles’ [system] is more of a ‘get upfield.’ It’s every D-lineman’s dream to play in a system like this,” Hargrave said.
How does Hargrave feel about his new defensive coordinator?
“I know a lot about Jim Schwartz,” said Hargrave. “He’s more of an attack and letting the defensive line make the plays. I don’t want to say that nobody else can make the plays, but he really emphasizes having defensive linemen.”
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