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Bleacher Report likes the Eagles' defense...

...offense, not so much.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bleacher Report has a tradition of rating every player in the NFL for their BR1000 series. This year, they did a preseason ranking based on last year's tape for veterans and rookies (using college film). The rankings were made by a team of writers including Doug Farrarr (formerly with Sports Illustrated), Charles McDonald (of the Falcoholic) and Derrik Klassen (of Turf Show Times), among many other talented football analysts. So how does the series view the eagles starters?

Players were graded on a scale out of 100, but positional value changed so some positions have naturally lower ratings.

  • Carson Wentz - 59 and 41st ranked Quarterback: So this is a bit pessimistic, even by my standards. I was critical of a lot of Wentz' attributes when he was coming out of NDSU, but saying there are 40 better quarterbacks in the NFL is a bit heavy. They were critical of Wentz' decision making, which I think is fair, but also said he was a poor run threat and did not do well under pressure. While Wentz does not excel under pressure, he is not a scared quarterback by any means and he has the feet to move an offense. I was also surprised that accuracy was a relatively highly rated trait for him. Of course, he was very raw at NDSU and, being a rookie, it impacts his overall rating. However, I think 41st in the league is a bit harsh.
  • Ryan Mathews - 71 and 42nd Ranked Running Back: This is a bit more skewed because the volume of talented backs in the NFL is a lot higher than quarterbacks and considering that the highest rated running back, Adrian Peterson, is only an 85/100, Ryan's rating looks a lot more accurate. There is no doubt about Mathews ability when he is healthy, but I think that his ratings were hurt by lack of availability to show how talented he is due to health. Also, the fact that he is not a great third down back hurt his value. Actually, Darren Sproles is ranked higher than Mathews at 33rd in the league with a rating of 73/100.
  • Jordan Matthews - 74 and 58th Ranked Wide Receiver: Like running back, wide receiver is a stacked position in the NFL, so it is no surprise that the Eagles best receiver is ranked relatively low. However, there is definitely room to improve. Route running was a big knock for Matthews in the system and with a coaching staff that emphasizes wide receiver technique so much more, that is something that should get better this year. I do think Matthews' yards after catch ability continues to be underrated, but time will tell.
  • Dorial Green Beckham - 71 and 87th Ranked Wide Receiver: Despite only being three points lower, Beckham's ranking drops well below Matthews in a deep position in the league. Green Beckham was knocked for his hands, route running and yards after catch, probably due to major lack of consistency rather than actual ability. We have yet to see Green Beckham at his best, but he has to want to get there, which has been a problem his whole career.
  • Zach Ertz - 75 and 18th Ranked Tight End: It is a bit hard to believe that a tight end who put up 850 yards last season is not even a top 15 player at his position. The rating system knocks his hands, which is fair, but also is critical of his route running and yards after catch ability, which does not make much sense. Ertz is easily one of the ten best tight ends in the NFL and will hopefully get better in an offense that features tight ends more.
  • Jason Peters - 89 and 6th Ranked Left Tacke: There is no problem with this. Peters had a down year last season and is getting up there in age. Regardless, he is still a great athlete and one of the best all around tackles in the league. His rating was only three points lower than the top tackle according to Bleacher Report, Joe Thomas.
  • Lane Johnson - 85 and 3rd Ranked Right Tackle: Only one point lower than the top ranked right tackle, this is a fair spot to put Johnson. Johnson is a better athlete than they credited him to be, but still being recognized as one of the elite at his position is a well deserved honor.
  • Brandon Brooks - 73 and 21st Ranked Guard: The Eagles made aggressive moves to upgrade their interior offensive line and part of that rebuild was giving Brandon Brooks a nice big contract. I understand him having a lower rating as his 2015 season was not his best to date, but he absolutely can be better going forward as he showed during his career in Houston.
  • Isaac Seumalo - 60 and 87th Ranked Guard: The Eagles drafted Isaac Seumalo in the third round to help amend their offensive line problems. Seumalo having such a low rating, even for a rookie, does not make much sense. He was an outstanding player at Oregon State and while he may have work to do, putting him as one of the worst guards in the league seems like a bit of a reach.
  • Jason Kelce - 69 (nice) and 16th Ranked Center: I am actually a bit surprised by this. Kelce, who had a two year stretch of being one of the league's best centers, had a major down year in 2015. It is more than likely that having horrible guard play next to him really hurt his play, but there were a worrying amount of moments where he himself could not hold up on the play. I think he is deservedly getting the benefit of the doubt that he can rebound with a stronger supporting cast.
  • Vinny Curry - 67 and 17th Ranked 3-4 Defensive End: This is a bit curious. All of the other Eagles players are ranked as 4-3 defenders except for Curry. Anyway, he is aptly graded as an adept pass rusher with great snap anticipation, but is mediocre in mostly every other regard. Curry moving into a full time role this year for the Eagles as a defensive end should be big for his skill set going forward.
  • Brandon Graham - 78 and 5th Ranked 4-3 Defensive End: Hell Yeah! Brandon Graham is one of the most underrated defenders in the NFL so it is great to see him mentioned in the same category as guys like Michael Bennett and Ezekiel Ansah. Graham is moving back to his natural defensive end position this season and should have a very nice career under Jim Schwartz' tutelage.
  • Fletcher Cox - 90 and 2nd Ranked Defensive Tackle: Fletcher Cox is the man. That is an uncontested fact. The fifth year defender is rated only two points lower than Aaron Donald and rightfully so. Cox nearly had 10 sacks as a pure two gapping defensive end last year and is set to explode as a defensive tackle in the Eagles new look defense.
  • Bennie Logan - 78 and 19th Ranked Defensive Tackle: This is a fair assessment. Logan is one of the better tackles in the league but is not necessarily a dynamic player. I will say this though: Logan was always more natural one gapping than being a pure nose tackle, so he may be more highly rated by the end of the year.
  • Mychael Kendricks - 76 and 12th Ranked 4-3 Outside Linebacker: Mychael Kendricks is an enigma. He is as talented as he is inconsistent. He has shown truly incredible potential during his career but has also proven to be very frustrating. Kendricks is probably better suited in a 4-3 defense where he can chase from the back end of the play, so he may see a rebound after a down season last year.
  • Nigel Bradham - 70 and 18th Ranked 4-3 Outside Linebacker: Where Kendricks is inconsistent but dynamic, Bradham is consistent but lacks major playmaking ability. He is just a solid all around player with few overwhelming strengths or weaknesses. His physicality and tackling ability will make him an asset at strong side linebacker in Philadelphia.
  • Jordan Hicks - 70 and 31st Ranked Inside Linebacker: This might be the ranking I have the biggest gripe with. Hicks did not get a lot of playing time last season due to injury but holy hell he was good when he was on the field. He can cover, blitz and play the run in-between the tackles or sideline to sideline. He was a serious defensive rookie of the year candidate before he suffered a season ending injury midseason. Hicks should absolutely be higher you better bet that he will be a top ten linebacker after this season.
  • Nolan Carroll - 69 (nice) and 29th Ranked Cornerback: This is fair. There is nothing really special about Nolan Carroll but he is a really solid cornerback. He was having a nice season before getting injured early on. If he can regain pre-injury form, he could be ranked higher by the end of the year.
  • Leodis McKelvin - 48 and 108th Ranked Cornerback: Welp. The story of McKelvin's career has always been that of a talented but very inconsistent player. He had a down year under Rex Ryan (as did the rest of Buffalo's defense), but it is worth noting the best statistical season of his career came under Jim Schwartz. There is definitely hope McKelvin can at least be average for the Eagles this year, which is maybe all they will need considering the talent on the rest of the defense.
  • Rodney Mcleod - 82 and 5th Ranked Free Safety: While the Eagles have question marks at the cornerback position, there is no doubt they have one of the best, if not the best, safety duo in the NFL. McLeod was incredibly underrated in St. Louis and now will be manning the back end of the Eagles defense. He is highly marked in coverage and as a tackler. Not bad... Not bad at all...
  • Malcolm Jenkins - 83 and 4th ranked Free Safety: After playing as the Eagles free safety last year, and being ranked as such, Jenkins will be moving to a more pigeon holed role closer to the line of scrimmage. For what it's worth, despite being graded as a free safety, his overall rating would have made him Bleacher Report's fourth ranked strong safety as well. Like Mcleod, Jenkins is highly rated in coverage, but his best asset is probably how good he is near the line of scrimmage. He is a strong run defender, good tackler and does an excellent job covering the slot. Jenkins is a leader on the Eagles defense and, besides Fletcher Cox, is the team's best all around defender.
There is very little to disagree with in these rankings. The only very, very disagreeable thing is how underrated Jordan Hicks is. Also, Ertz and Wentz deserve at least a little bump, but their time will come soon enough. It is encouraging to see all the positivity surrounding the Eagles defense and, since the BR1000 project is fluid over the next few months, it will be a fun thing to keep an eye on during the season.

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