NFL Network has been running their annual NFL Top 100 series as voted on by the players. The top 10 players will be revealed on Wednesday evening, but thanks to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, we already know where Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray ranks. So, spoiler alert: Murray ranks eighth overall.
***UPDATE: NFL Network PR tells me that Gosselin is wrong. Murray still ranks in the top 10, but he isn't necessarily eighth. Stay tuned for the final reveal tonight.***
Murray earned his high ranking due to a stellar 2014 performance. He was the NFL's leading rusher with 1,845 yards on 392 attempts (4.7 average) and 13 touchdowns. He also contributed with 57 receptions for 416 yards to give him a total of 2,261 yards from scrimmage. Some will argue Murray was aided by high quality play from the Cowboys' offensive line, which isn't untrue, but Murray obviously deserves his fair share of credit as well.
There's no doubt about it: Murray was a huge reason why the Cowboys had so much success last season. The Dallas running game was so effective that it took a lot of pressure off of Tony Romo by requiring him to throw less. The run game also allowed the Cowboys to control the clock and hide their deficient defense. The Cowboys did not do much to replace Murray this offseason, so it's clear they have confidence in their offensive line. It remains to be seen if their gamble will pay off.
Meanwhile, Murray will be the lead back in Philadelphia. It's hard not to wonder about how effective he'll be this year after handling such a heavy workload last year. The good news for him is that he won't have to carry the same burden in 2015. The Eagles can rotate Murray with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles in order to keep everyone fresh.
Chip Kelly has always built his offense around the run game. The Eagles got away from rushing the ball effectively in 2014. Kelly ultimately felt like LeSean McCoy wasn't cutting it. Old quotes from the coach reveal he ideally wants a "down-hill, one-cut runner" for his scheme and that's exactly what he got with Murray and Mathews. If the Eagles can revive their running game, they should be able to compete for a playoff berth like they did in 2013.
Murray's finish at No. 8 overall on the NFL Top 100 puts him three spots behind where McCoy finished last year at No. 5. This year, McCoy fell to No. 29. As for other Eagles on the list, Darren Sproles checked in at No. 81, now-Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin finished at No. 61, linebacker Connor Barwin debuted at No. 58, and Jason Peters made the cut at No. 40 overall.