The Eagles picked a good year to need an edge rusher.

This year’s class lacks the high-end, blue-chip prospects many drafts have, but it somewhat makes up for it at certain positions with remarkable depth. It’s safe to say that edge rusher, from the top few prospects into the later rounds, is the strongest position group of this year’s class.

Even after signing Haason Reddick earlier this offseason, the Eagles could stand to add an edge rusher or two. They ranked 31st in sacks last season largely because of an unproductive rotation of defensive ends. Brandon Graham will return to the fold next year, but the 34-year-old is coming off a torn Achilles.

“We didn’t get enough pressure on the quarterback,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said at the scouting combine last month. “We have to have pressure on the quarterback. We have to continue to have pressure on the quarterback. It’s a priority to us. We’ll have opportunities this offseason to do it, and I would be very surprised if we didn’t do something there.”

» READ MORE: Ranking the Eagles’ defensive needs for the draft

Whether it’s in the first round on April 28 or on the ensuing days, they’ll have plenty of potential difference-making pass rushers to choose from.

Here’s a rundown of the prospects:

The top guys

Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan

Hutchinson is in the mix for the No. 1 pick because of his combination of size, strength, and agility. He doesn’t have the eye-catching explosiveness or power of some consensus No. 1 edge rusher prospects in recent years such as Chase Young, Myles Garrett, Nick or Joey Bosa, but his measurables and college production are encouraging.

There’s a strong correlation between high-end 3-cone times and effective pass rushers, and Hutchinson did the drill in 6.73 seconds at 6-foot-7, 260 pounds. According to, that’s 99th percentile. Combine that with his 14 sacks last season, it’s easy to see why he’s a potential first pick.

Travon Walker, Georgia

Walker was climbing draft boards even before he put on a show at the combine, and now he’s got a very high chance to be off the board in the first three picks. The Georgia standout played multiple positions along the Bulldogs’ defensive front last season and his combination of size and speed jump out when you watch him.

There’s some projection involved with him since he wasn’t exclusively an edge rusher in college, but he’s 6-5, 272 pounds with long arms, heavy hands, and legitimate speed. He ran 4.51 in the 40-yard dash, 6.89 in the three-cone. Walker fits multiple fronts, too. He started his career as a 290-pound defensive tackle before slimming down and playing some five-technique, some edge rusher, and even dropping into coverage as a linebacker at times.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon

Thibodeaux entered the offseason squarely in the mix to become the first player taken, but the pre-draft process hurt his stock.

Some of it stems from teams reportedly souring on him after interviews last month, according to an ESPN report. His level of competition in the Pac-12 doesn’t compare well to SEC or Big Ten counterparts either. Thibodeaux doesn’t have a huge sample size against out-of-conference opponents, but in the three games he played against schools from the other Power 5 conferences, he didn’t record a sack. He did have 10 tackles, including two for losses, against Iowa State in the 2020 Fiesta Bowl, though.

Quibbles aside, Thibodeaux has the size and explosiveness to be an impact rusher. He’s already got an array of pass-rush moves and a good understanding of how to use them to beat offensive tackles. He had 35.5 career sacks, including 12 last season.

There’s a lot of smoke around Thibodeaux, but where will he actually go? Some projections have him going third overall, others have him sliding out of the top 10. If he starts to slide, the value could be there for the Eagles to move up.

The riser

Jermaine Johnson, Florida State

Johnson started this process as a first-round hopeful with something to prove. Now he’s got a real chance of going in the top 10 after a dominant Senior Bowl showing and a solid combine.

The Georgia transfer is effective against the run because of his long arms and play strength. He’s 6-6, 254 pounds and plays with a legitimate motor.

Johnson has room to develop as a pass-rusher, but he showed plenty of promise in that area during one-on-one drills at the Senior Bowl, enough to suggest there’s potential for him to be a three-down, difference-making edge rusher. He just has to put it together.

» READ MORE: The long road for Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson could lead him to the Eagles

The wild card

George Karlaftis, Purdue

Karlaftis is a powerful edge rusher with a big frame (6-4, 266) and, like Johnson, a relentless motor. He doesn’t have the explosiveness or the flexibility of some of the top edge rushers, but there’s a lot to like with him as a high-floor prospect.

Here’s what NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said about Karlaftis on Thursday:

“There’s teams that think he’s one of the top 15 players, and then there’s teams that think he’s not worth a first- or second-round pick,” he said. “That’s how all over the board teams are on some of these guys.

“Some people are really down on him. He’s not super, super twitched up and bendy, but he just is a real rugged player who can power through.”

The sleepers

Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma

The Eagles spent big on one undersized edge rusher this offseason, why not double down?

Although Bonitto weighed in at 248 pounds at the combine, he was listed at 240 by Oklahoma last season and plays like a smaller lineman. His playing style and stature compare to Reddick’s, the Eagles’ big free-agent addition last month, and he figures to eventually have a similar role in the league.

Unlike Reddick, Bonitto has yet to prove he has the play strength to stay on the field in the NFL. What he has proven is his ability to get into the backfield untouched by offensive linemen because of his twitchiness. Bonitto has the speed and bend to beat guys around the edge, but he has also shown the ability to work an inside move when tackles overset to combat his speed.

Sometimes he looks like a wide receiver beating press coverage in the way he plays, which isn’t far off when you consider he’s only about 15 pounds heavier than some wideouts.

Bonitto is a Day 2 option who may have a niche role early on, but could certainly develop into a difference-maker while shadowing Reddick. He’s arguably the best speed rusher in the class and can offer some versatility as a quarterback spy, which he did at Oklahoma at times.

Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State

If the Eagles trade back or target an edge rusher on Day 2 of the draft, Ebikete is another solid option.

The 6-2, 250-pound rusher could sneak into the end of the first round or could be a priority pick early in the second round. He’s a 6-2, 250-pound speed rusher who will appeal to teams more off his traits than his technique at this point. He’s an explosive athlete with serous speed around the edge and ankle flexibility, or “bend,” you look for in pass rushers.

Wherever he ends up, he’ll have to learn how to translate those traits into effective pass-rushing, but the potential is there. One catch: He’ll probably have to be a designated pass-rusher early in his career until he adds strength or improves against the run.

Boye Mafe, Minnesota

Mafe is another Senior Bowl standout whose appeal comes more from traits than polish. Still, he had 10 sacks last season and has a blend of strength and speed that entices teams. His projections are all over the place, but there’s at least a chance he’s available on Day 2 of the draft when the Eagles pick.

He’s considered a “project,” but a worthwhile one because of his fluidity, flexibility, and motor.