ESPN recently released their annual NFL Future Power Rankings (In$ider) which aim to project how all teams will fare over the course of the next three seasons. The rankings are based off of a panel that consists of ESPN personalities John Clayton, Louis Riddick, and Mike Sando.
The Philadelphia Eagles finished ninth overall in last year's rankings when they were coming off a 10-6 season and a first round playoff exit. The Eagles had the best outlook in the NFC East and only four NFC teams finished ahead of them.
This time around, the ESPN panel isn't so high on the Eagles. The Birds rank 15th this year with an overall score of 69.6. That's second in the NFC East and seventh in the conference. NFC teams ahead of the Eagles include: Green Bay Packers (1), Seattle Seahawks (2), Dallas Cowboys (6), Minnesota Vikings (7), Carolina Panthers (10), Arizona Cardinals (11), and Detroit Lions (12). The New York Giants rank 20th and Washington finished at 27th.
Here's how the Eagles ranked in all five categories. The number in parentheses represents how the score has changed since 2014. All scores are out of 100.
Roster: 79.5 (-7.8)
QB: 53.0 (-25.5)
Draft: 68.3 (-5.5)
Front Office - 70.7 (-9.6)
Coaching - 83.0 (-2.5)
The biggest reason why Philadelphia dropped down in the scoring is due to their quarterback situation. Last year, Nick Foles looked like a promising young quarterback on the rise to some. Now the Eagles are counting on an injury-prone Sam Bradford to take the reigns. Here's ESPN's general overview:
"The Eagles' seven-spot drop from one year ago reflected significant drops in rankings for quarterback (12th to 22nd), non-QB roster (fifth to 14th) and front office (10th to 19th). Chip Kelly and the other coaches actually moved ahead three spots to sixth, and there was no change in the rank for drafting. The key question is whether the Eagles were smart in handing over personnel power to Kelly, a change that preceded and possibly enabled the decisions to trade away Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy while Jeremy Maclin left in free agency."
And here's why there's reason for concern, according to former Eagles scout Louis Riddick:
"I said a year ago that Kelly is a program builder whom I admire, and the personnel decisions that he made going forward were going to be the key to his success. Now that he's in total control of the roster, Kelly has continued to send the old regime's players packing as he builds a team in his image with new additions. Of all the moves he made this offseason, the one that will define his future is the trade for quarterback Sam Bradford. I like DeMarco Murray, the team loves Ryan Mathews, and Byron Maxwell is a player that I touted long before he received $25 million in guarantees from the Eagles this offseason, but it all hinges on the knees of Bradford. Can he stay healthy, can the revamped offensive line keep him upright, and can Chip scheme up the opponent week after week to help keep Bradford out of danger? That's what we are all waiting to see."
Chip Kelly has proven to be a good coach in the NFL. But is he a good general manager? We'll see how his moves work out this season.
As far as the Eagles' drafting goes, here's John Clayton's assessment:
"Kelly's roster is still a work in progress. Part of the reason for that: He had to use first-, a second- and a third-round picks over the past two years to replace departed receivers DeSean Jackson, Maclin and Jason Avant. Lane Johnson, the fourth overall pick in 2013, has turned into a great left tackle, but if Earl Wolff loses his strong safety job, Johnson would the only non-receiver starter from the 2013/14 drafts."
Clayton's last sentence there isn't entirely accurate. Zach Ertz isn't a receiver, and even if he's not a full-time starter, he could be a very valuable contributor. And Clayton is completely forgetting about Bennie Logan who is a good starter at nose tackle.
Overall, I would say this average ranking is fair because it's really "wait-and-see" mode with this Eagles team. This team has a lot to prove after all the changes made this offseason. There's real boom/bust potential here.