Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently released a column featured on ESPN Insider that ranked all 32 NFL rosters from best to worst. The rankings are based on PFF's grades, so I'm sure everyone here is bound to enjoy them.
The Philadelphia Eagles ranked fifth overall, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. I'd argue it's safe to say the Eagles are in the Top 10 of the NFL, but top 5 may be a little favorable. Here's how Monson broke it down (via In$ider):
Nick Foles had spectacular numbers last season, but in truth his play was never nearly as good as the picture they painted.
He likely won't beat (or even match) those numbers in 2014, but he could well improve his play. Helping him out is the fact that the offensive line might be the best in the league, and it has considerable depth. The pass-catchers are solid, and rookie Jordan Matthews may wind up as the team's third wide receiver by the start of the season.
The team is loaded with pass-rushers and has been slowly reworking a secondary that needed attention. About the only question mark is at wide receiver, but they have a pair of draft picks that will be fighting to earn a spot there, and players that have proven to be solid in the past.
(Key: Blue=Elite; Green=High quality; Light green=Good starter; Yellow=Average starter; Orange=Below-average starter; Red=Poor starter; Gray=Not enough information; Purple=Rookie)
A couple of thoughts:
• Monson's statement about Eagles QB Nick Foles is sure to rub people the wrong way. I don't totally disagree with him. There were moments where Foles left easy plays on the field or didn't play as well as the numbers would suggest. For as good as he was in 2013, there's definitely areas of his game where he could still improve.
• I wouldn't call the Eagles loaded with pass rushers. As far as starters go, defensive end Fletcher Cox is a good pass rusher. No argument there. Trent Cole is better than people give him credit for, but hardly near the very top of the league. Cole's numbers in 2013: 12th in sacks, 3rd in QB hits, 18th in QB hurries, and 13th overall pass rush productivity. Fellow starters DE Cedric Thornton and OLB Connor Barwin don't offer anything special in the form of pass rush. Vinny Curry is a pass rushing demon off the bench but seems like a more ideal fit for a 1-gap system rather than the Eagles 2-gap 3-4 scheme. Backup OLB Brandon Graham would probably benefit from a change of scenery as well.
• The only starter that looks out of place is Jeff Maehl as WR3. I'm guessing PFF is reluctant to plug in rookie Jordan Matthews as the starter without seeing him earn it first. The more accurate representation would to be to list veteran WR Brad Smith as the slot receiver because he's been taking a bulk of the first team reps in OTAs. Matthews is running with the second team as the slot WR.
• It's no surprise the Eagles' offense is the strength of the team. It's also no surprise that the defense needs work. However, it's a good sign to see there aren't any terrible starters anywhere. Plus the defense even has a few bright spots.
So is the Eagles roster really the fifth best in the NFL? On a scale of 1-32, where would you rank it?