A common post the SB Nation NFL team sites have been done in the past and will continue to do throughout this season is "Which [opposing team's] player would [your favorite team's] fans take?" With the Philadelphia Eagles set to play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, it's time to address the question and familiarize yourself with the opponent's roster.
There aren’t many quarterbacks in the NFL I’d take over Carson Wentz right now. Russell Wilson is certainly in the conversation, though.
He’s just such a pesky player to defend. He can make plays with his arm. He can avoid pressure. He can take off running. Wilson is Seattle’s leading rusher this season with 401 yards. The Eagles’ defense will have to remain disciplined this week.
Wilson is the type of quarterback who can still succeed despite lacking ideal circumstances around him. The Seahawks haven’t had any consistency at running back this season. The offensive line is perpetually in shambles. The defense has faced some significant injuries. And yet the Seahawks still have a chance to win every week because the quarterback is really good. Seattle hasn’t suddenly crumbled into one of the worst teams in the NFL (unlike the Cowboys).
For the sake of this activity, I’m not taking Wilson over Wentz because there are bigger upgrades to be had. Wentz’s future success might be enough to eventually forgive the Eagles for passing on Wilson three times in 2012.
Wilson isn’t the only good player on Seattle’s offense.
The Seahawks’ offensive line certainly isn’t known for being a strength, but Duane Brown could be an upgrade over Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle.
Doug Baldwin is a very productive receiver. He even threw for a touchdown against the Eagles last year. The matchup between him and Patrick Robinson in the slot should be fun to watch.
The Eagles’ don’t need help at tight end, but Jimmy Graham is still a threat, especially in the red zone.
Byron Maxwell. OK, that’s not funny.
There’s actually this player on the Seahawks’ defense who is really good. He plays safety. You probably haven’t heard of him before, but his name is Earl Thomas. Another little known fact is that the Eagles drafted Brandon Graham ahead of him in the 2010 NFL Draft. Crazy, right? This is probably the first time you’re ever hearing this.
Seriously, though, Thomas is a very good safety. He has great range on the back end of Seattle’s defense.
But Thomas isn’t even the best defender on the Seahawks right now. That honor goes to Bobby Wagner, who is a beast in the middle of Seattle’s defense. Wagner has logged 76 tackles, two interceptions, six passes defensed, 1.5 sacks, one defensive touchdown, and one safety this season. He’s a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
When you throw on the tape, it doesn’t take long to see Wagner is just a different kind of player to most NFL linebackers this season. The speed with which he reads and reacts to plays with movement is incredible. He is able to get himself into holes and running lanes before blockers have had a chance to position themselves to account for him, and even when he isn’t making the play, he is causing disruption to the blocking scheme, often causing the dominos to begin to fall which gives somebody else a free play to make.
But putting some numbers to that tape backs up Wagner’s credentials this season. He leads all inside linebackers in run stop percentage (10.9 percent), tackling efficiency (98.0), is second in pass-rush productivity (27.2), and has top 10 coverage numbers while posting the best PFF coverage grade (94.7).
Wagner is the player I’d steal for the Eagles. Middle linebacker is a big need with Jordan Hicks out for the season and Joe Walker banged up. A linebacking corps of Wagner, Nigel Bradham, and Mychal Kendricks would be pretty impressive.
Wagner’s presence will make it tough for the Eagles to run the ball against Seattle’s defense. Even some of the league’s toughest run defenses (Broncos, Panthers) haven’t been able to shut down Philly’s ground game, however. That’ll be another interesting battle to watch on Sunday.
Other standout players on Seattle’s defense include: defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Jarran Reed. The Eagles are already set in the trenches, though.
Richard Sherman (and Kam Chancellor) would be included here if he was healthy, but he’s not. Also corner isn’t as big of a need as it used to be, which is crazy to say.
If you were deciding for the Eagles, who would you take? Vote in the poll below (click here if you can’t see it).
Which one Seahawks player would you take on the Eagles?
This poll is closed