Pro Football Focus releases the top five graded players from each team after every single NFL game. Here’s what PFF had to say about the Philadelphia Eagles following their preseason matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
Top 5 Grades
Edge Steven Means, 90.2 overall grade
DI Fletcher Cox, 86.0 overall grade
Edge Derek Barnett, 85.5 overall grade
CB Ronald Darby, 83.5 overall grade
S Rodney McLeod, 83.3 overall grade
It’s no surprise to see this list dominated by defensive players. Philadelphia’s defense did a pretty good job of harassing the Bills’ offense for most of the night.
It all started with the Eagles’ starting defensive line. Fletcher Cox was a beast out there (shocker) destroying the Bills’ blockers. He straight up pushed the Bills’ starting right guard back into Tyrod Taylor in order to force an incompletion. The Eagles need Cox to be the kind of monster he is on this play more often in 2017.
Once the starters came out, Derek Barnett came in. And he looked really good yet again. The 21-year-old rookie has logged three sacks, two hits, and four hurries in 42 pass rush snaps. That’s good for the second best pass rushing productivity score in the NFL this preseason. Barnett is really pushing for a starting job. Doug Pederson confirmed he’ll get a look with the first team defense in practice this week.
“It's important [to see him go against starters],” said Doug Pederson after Thursday’s game. “Obviously, better tackles, better competition is a sign of where you are in your development process. But you could see how quick he is off the ball. You could see how well he bends. There's just a relentless finish. He plays to the whistle, and that's exciting. So hopefully these next couple weeks, you know, with Miami coming up, we'll give him a chance to roll in there with the first unit again and just continue to watch him grow.”
Shot 10 - The best pass rushers are able to string multiple moves together. Barnett converts a bull rush to an inside Swim move for QB hit pic.twitter.com/BNEpoarZvI— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 18, 2017
Shot 12 - Barnett's motor literally never stops. Made plays like this all the time in college. Not surprised to see this in the preseason pic.twitter.com/2N5hBqzsTM— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 18, 2017
Steven Means (Business)
Means is one the Eagles’ highest graded players for the second preseason game in a row. Against the Packers last week, Means played 17 snaps and finished with nine pressures. Against the Bills this week, Means played 44 snaps and finished with seven pressures. That’s 16 total pressures (including four sacks and a forced fumble) for Means this summer.
Now, the thing with Means is that he’s going up against backups and third/fourth stringers. He turns 27 in less than a month so he’s older than these young blockers he’s facing. Still, Means is showing up big.
The Eagles have a lot of depth at defensive end. Alex McCalister has also shown some positive flashes during the preseason.
Darby was targeted four times in his first game with the Eagles. He allowed one reception for six yards. He also had one pass deflection (a dropped pick-six) and one interception. Hell of a debut. The addition of Darby has to be such a relief for the Eagles. It’s still early, and things can always change, but cornerback doesn’t appear to be such a major position of weakness anymore.
Shot 4 - Darby's INT came on the back end of a Cover 0 blitz; pressure by Graham/Kendricks. Darby disciplined vs double move; finds football pic.twitter.com/anJjFC3dM0— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 18, 2017
McLeod’s deflection on a safety blitz set up Mychal Kendricks for a big interception.
Shot 5 - Kendricks' INT came on a FS blitz. Outstanding job by Rodney McLeod disrupting the passing lane. Gets paw on the ball to force INT pic.twitter.com/8nflWoo6D8— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 18, 2017
PFF mentioned Brandon Graham, Billy Brown, and Victor Salako as players with performances of note. Graham is an obvious inclusion. He looks great as ever.
Brown had a good showing against Buffalo. The undrafted tight end was targeted four times and had four receptions for 34 yards. Salako, an undrafted offensive tackle, could push to make the practice squad if he continues to block well.