Two-and-a-half years isn’t a very long time in the real world. But in sports, it’s an eternity.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Daeshon Hall was coming off an impressive season at Texas A&M, followed by an equally impressive performance at the NFL’s Scouting Combine.
The Carolina Panthers were so enamored with the 6-foot-5 edge rusher with 35-inch arms that they plucked him in the third round of the 2017 draft.
Sixteen months later, they cut him.
Try to imagine how absolutely unimpressive a guy has to be for you to take him with the 77th overall pick in the draft, give him a $900,000 signing bonus and then wave bye-bye to him after just 16 months. I mean, that’s downright Jaiquawn Jarrett-ish.
“I was young and I wasn’t very strong,’’ said Hall, who was signed by the Eagles last December and finds himself in the thick of a battle for the fourth spot in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s end rotation. “It was a shock [to get cut]. But that’s how the business works.
“I feel everything happens for a reason. Getting cut there opened the door for me to be here. I’m just grateful for every opportunity I get.’’
Hall played in just one game with the Panthers as a rookie. Played nine snaps in the season opener, spent the next three games as a game-day inactive, then was placed on injured reserve for the rest of the year with a hamstring injury. He was cut the next summer after another unimpressive training camp and preseason.
He was signed to the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad a week after Carolina released him. Three weeks after that, the Houston Texans signed him to their 53-man roster.
He was on their 53-man roster for three games, none of which he played in, then was released and signed to their practice squad. In mid-December, the Eagles signed him.
Hall played in the Eagles’ final two regular-season games and both playoff games. He played 16 defensive snaps in the Eagles’ Week 16 and 17 wins over Houston and Washington, registering his first NFL sack in the 32-30 win over the Texans. He was used extensively on special teams in the playoff games against Chicago and New Orleans.
Hall is an athletic edge rusher. Ran a 4.76-second 40 and had a 36-inch vertical jump at the combine. His biggest problem with the Panthers was a lack of strength.
He weighed a bag of chips over 260 coming out of Texas A&M, where he played on the opposite side from Myles Garrett, who was the first player taken in the ’17 draft and had 13 ½ sacks with Cleveland last season.
Like a lot of college edge rushers, Hall wasn’t ready for the strength and agility of NFL offensive tackles. Then, he dropped nearly 20 pounds last year when Houston moved him to linebacker during his nearly three months with them.
At the urging of Schwartz and Eagles strength coach Josh Hingst, Hall hit the weight room hard this past offseason. Packed on 30 pounds. And we’re not talking Russell-Crowe-in-the-role-of-Roger-Ailes pounds.
“I was real skinny last year,’’ Hall said. “I put on weight. I put on muscle. I knew I had some speed. I was just missing some power. I lifted a lot of weights and tried to get stronger.’’
Mission accomplished. Hall has worked hard and has played his way into position for a roster spot and is making Eagles general manager Howie Roseman look really smart for plucking him off the Texans’ practice squad last December.
He’s had an excellent camp and a terrific preseason so far, including a pair of sacks and a forced fumble last week against Jacksonville.
“He got to us midway through last year and he was in the transition of going from a 4-3 defensive end to an outside linebacker,’’ Schwartz said. “He had been asked to lose weight in Houston, and then had to gain weight here. So he was a little bit of a work in progress.
“But he came back and had a really good spring with us and he’s stacked a good training camp on top of that. He has good speed. He’s long. He fits our stuff that way. And he’s really tough. He plays physical football for us, and that’s what we are looking for.’’
Hall is competing with 2018 fourth-round pick Josh Sweat, rookie fourth-round pick Shareef Miller and recent trade acquisition Eli Harold for the fourth defensive-end spot behind Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Vinny Curry.
Last year, the Eagles carried five defensive ends and four defensive tackles on their season-opening roster. They likely will carry at least five ends again.
Hall had six tackles and a sack in the Eagles’ first preseason game against Tennessee. He had two sacks, three hurries and a forced fumble against the Jaguars. One of the sacks came from the left side, the other from the right side.
He also was called for a careless neutral-zone infraction and had to sprint to get back onside after celebrating too long after his second sack.
“I wasn’t happy [with the penalty] and I don’t think anyone else was happy,’’ said Hall, who got yanked out of the game by Schwartz right after the penalty.
“I’m just trying to control what I can control and try to make this team or make another team,’’ he said. “We have a great group of d-ends here. Everybody works hard and plays hard. I feel I’m getting better because I’m being pushed by the rest of these guys.’’
Hall can play on all four special-team units, which adds to his value.