Eagles analysis

Will Jordan Davis have his breakout season in 2023?

The Eagles will be relying on Jordan Davis in 2023, so it's no surprise he's on the most important list

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Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2023 season.

25. Nolan Smith
24. Quez Watkins
23. Kenny Gainwell
22. Marcus Mariota
21. Reed Blankenship
20. Brandon Graham
19. D'Andre Swift
18. Avonte Maddox
17. Cam Jurgens
16. Fletcher Cox
15. Landon Dickerson
14. Jordan Davis

It’s time to really unlock Jordan Davis.

Because it’s not like Davis was a disaster in his rookie season. But largely because of an injury halfway through last year, he never really got to make the kind of impact the Eagles were hoping for when they traded up to draft him at No. 13 overall out of Georgia in 2022.

Now it’s time to get that kind of play out of Davis. Even he knows things are different this year.

“A lot different,” Davis said this spring. “Football-wise, just maturing, understanding that it’s a bigger role. Going into an offseason completely fresh, I think that was the biggest thing. Definitely excited for this year, definitely know what is expected of me and ready to go ahead and reach those expectations.”

As a rookie, Davis played in 13 games with five starts. Those five consecutive starts came in Weeks 3-8 and Davis was really starting to flash. But in his fifth start against the Steelers, Davis suffered a high ankle sprain that really threw off his season. He missed the next four games on Injured Reserve and by the time he returned veteran Linval Joseph had been signed and was the starter. It also took several weeks for Davis to really get over that injury even after he returned.

But eventually down the stretch, Davis began to play better and better. While he didn’t take back that starting nose tackle job from Joseph, Davis out-snapped Joseph in the playoffs 45-30.

In his rookie season, Davis had 18 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 pass batted down. Of course, the stats are never going to tell the full story with Davis. The Eagles’ run defense was humming early in the 2022 season when he was on the field. And ProFootballFocus ranked him as the 26th-best overall interior defensive lineman in the league and the 20th best interior defender against the run.

That should be the floor for Davis. He’s expected to be an elite run-stuffing nose tackle at the NFL level. But the reason the Eagles drafted him so high was because of his unique physical makeup and athleticism and the belief that he won’t be just a two-down lineman in his NFL career.

To have a guy who is 6-foot-6, 336 pounds and moves the way Davis does is freaky stuff.

“To me, it was a situation where it's like, ‘Why is he playing 40 to 50 percent of the plays?’ Well, really, look at the games that Georgia was in last year,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said on the New Heights podcast this offseason. “(Georgia was) winning 42-7 in the third quarter most of those games and they were smart, they have all these five-star recruits and we’ve got to keep these guys here so we don’t lose them a year from now when Jordan leaves.

“And in the close games, in the national championship games, he’s playing 60 percent of the plays. So when I look at that, I’m going, man, that’s an opportunity.”

The Eagles will need Davis to live up to his draft status in 2023. Because Joseph, Ndamukong Suh and Javon Hargrave are gone and the Eagles added Davis’s Georgia teammate Jalen Carter with the No. 9 overall pick. The Eagles hope has to be that Carter and Davis help each other unlock the kind of greatness we saw from them together with the Bulldogs.

In 2023, like most other years, the Eagles are relying on their defensive line. Davis is an important piece of that this season and going forward.

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