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Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: Jordan Davis Checks in at No. 18

The big DT from Georgia projects to be a game-changer for the defense as a whole

It’s all a projection at this stage, but if Jordan Davis lives up to his enormous potential, being No. 18 on a list of the 25 best Eagles players is going to look quaint in about 12 months.

Davis, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is expected to be a difference-maker early in his career for both how he plays and how he allows the Eagles' defense to play as a whole.

The story on how a rookie finished 18th in the running begins with SI's Eagles Today site publisher Ed Kracz and staff writer John McMullen putting together their top 25 lists independent of each other’s and then assigned point values, with 25 points awarded to the player ranked first on each list, 24 to the player ranked second, and so on, with one point going to the player that was put 25th.

The highest ranking from either reporter broke any ties in the balloting.

Davis finished with 16 votes in our polling. According to McMullen, he was No. 16 overall, with Kracz having Davis coming along a little lower at No. 20.

The organization added plenty of potential difference-makers for Jonathan Gannon’s defense this offseason, including proven veterans on all three levels in Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, James Bradberry, and Jaquiski Tartt.

When it comes to improving what was the 10th-ranked unit in the NFL last season, however, the biggest piece - both literally and figuratively - should be the 6-foot-6, 340-pound Davis.

Jordan Davis on June 3, 2022

Jordan Davis

It might be a little esoteric for the casual fan, though, because Davis will be expected to occupy blockers which, in theory, will better allow his defensive line mates to get one-on-one matchups and keep the linebackers as clean as possible.

The latter played out in real-time at Georgia last season when Davis’ presence allowed Nakobe Dean, the Eagles’ third-round pick, to flourish en route to the Butkus Award as the nation's top LB for the national champions.

Last season, many of the Eagles' defensive linemen often had to play out of positions they were comfortable with because Philadelphia just didn't possess a natural zero- or one-technique player.

As good as Javon Hargrave was as a pass-rusher in 2021, he struggled mightily when forced to take on blockers in run support. In that same vein, players like Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, and Ryan Kerrigan were often asked to play roles outside their comfort zones a little too often.

Sometimes the final piece of the puzzle has to be inserted to get a clear view of the entire picture and that's why Davis was so important to the Eagles that Howie Roseman made the targeted move up from No. 15 to 13 in the draft to get him.

"I’m excited for Big Boy," edge rusher Brandon Graham said when discussing Davis. "He’s going to be taking two or three people with him, hopefully, and take a lot off us.”

Davis’ presence is also expected to allow Gannon to toggle between odd and even fronts seamlessly be it three-man, four-man, or five-man overhang looks.

"Good luck blocking Jordan, he's pretty big," head coach Nick Sirianni said. "He can push the pocket. He can eat up double teams where they can't get back to the linebackers."

One hurdle could be expectations in that people expect tangible production out of players who are drafted as highly as Davis, not intangible efficacy only revealed by the film and the elevation of others.

Gannon believes you will see both with Davis.

"At [Georgia], obviously they play really good football there, they didn't ask [Davis] to do that a lot," Gannon said. "But he definitely has the skill set to [rush the passer] when you start looking at how he moves and his body and his traits. He definitely will project to affect the game in the pass game."

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From the Eagles’ perspective, the floor for Davis is that two-down dominator in run support, and the ceiling is a unicorn-like combination of elite run-stuffer and meaningful interior pass rusher.

"He's a big, explosive, violent man," said Gannon, "that can win one-on-one."

THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR

No. 25 – Jack Driscoll

Ranking the 25 Best Eagles on the Current Roster Begins at ...

No. 24 – Derek Barnett

Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: Derek Barnett Sneaks in at No. 24

No. 23 – Kyzir White

Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: A Recent Free-Agent Signing ...

No. 22 - Quez Watkins

Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: Speedy Quez Watkins Crosses ...

No. 21 – Jake Elliott

Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: Kicker Jake Elliott Gets Some Love

No. 20 – Isaac Seumalo

Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: Isaac Seumalo's back to claim ...

No. 19 – James Bradberry

Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: James Bradberry, a Gift from the Giants

No. 18 - Jordan Davis

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen