Earlier this summer, ESPN (via Pro Football Focus) ranked all 32 NFL rosters and the Philadelphia Eagles finished 5th overall in the standings. While I definitely see the Eagles being considered as a top 10 team in these somewhat arbitrary rankings, I have to admit I was little surprised to see them in the top 5.
Recently, ESPN has released a follow-up breakdown to their roster rankings by ranking every team's [offense] and [defense] separately. (Via In$ider) Let's take a look at where the Eagles stand.
OFFENSE - 4th
Losing DeSean Jackson does hurt the Eagles' offense, as he finished last season with the sixth-highest yards per route run average among wide receivers, but this offense remains loaded without him.
Offseason addition Darren Sproles, who had 604 yards as a receiver last year, is a seemingly perfect fit for what the Eagles want to do offensively. The progression of Nick Foles will be key, and if he can repeat 2013 in terms of his deep-ball throwing (he threw 14 touchdowns to just one interception), the Eagles should be able to score plenty of points again in 2014.
Hardly a surprise to see the Eagles ranked high in this regard. Only the New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, and Green Bay Packers, in that order, ranked higher than the Eagles. As far as individual positions go...
QB: 16th | RB: 2nd | WR/TE: 26th | OL: 1
Some may argue that Nick Foles being ranked 16th is too low, and that might be the case, but I don't see it's as far off as the Eagles pass-catching options being ranked 26th. While it's true that there are some question marks when it comes to the Eagles receivers, I also think there's a lot of potential there. And when it comes to tight ends, the Eagles probably have the best group in the entire league. I'm not seeing where 26th comes from when you combine those factors.
DEFENSE - 17th
The Eagles have an odd problem on defense: Most of their top defensive talent plays the same position. At defensive end, they have Cedric Thornton, Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry. While Curry is the backup of the three, he recorded a pressure on 14.7 percent of his pass plays, a mark that was second among 3-4 defensive ends, just behind J.J. Watt. At right outside linebacker, they have either Trent Cole or Brandon Graham on the field. While Graham is the backup there, he accumulates pressures on 11.9 percent of his pass rush plays.
The Eagles have one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL in Brandon Boykin. But outside of Boykin, their starters grade largely average, and their backups are inexperienced almost across the board.
Many like to point out how the Eagles ranked near the bottom of the league in total yards allowed, but evaluating the defense by that metric alone is misguided. They were closer to average than they were closer to being the worst when using a more relevant statistic such as yards allowed per play.
DB: 14 | LB: 8 | Edge Rush: 29 | Interior DL: 15
It's true that the Eagles pass rush is a big concern. I think the secondary, with the addition of safety Malcolm Jenkins (and potentially Nolan Carroll II if he manages to stay healthy) can manage to be average which seems like setting the bar low but it just might be good enough.
And now we turn it over to you. How these rankings look?