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Eagles-Dolphins PFF Grades: Zach Ertz among Philadelphia’s top five players

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This is his year!

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NFL: Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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 win over the Miami Dolphins.

Top 5 grades:

TE Zach Ertz, 85.0 overall grade

C Stefen Wisniewski, 83.3 overall grade

DI Elijah Qualls, 82.8 overall grade

ED Vinny Curry, 82.8 overall grade

ED Chris Long, 81.5 overall grade

The defensive line is so clearly the strength of this team. The Eagles have some great starters and good depth there.

Zach Ertz

Ertz finished the night with three receptions for 44 yards. Some of those yards were even after the catch! So much for “No YAC Zach.”

You know what this mean: it’s finally Ertz’s year!

For real, though, Ertz has some signs pointing in his favor. He’s had an offseason to build chemistry with Carson Wentz. There are wide receivers on the team now (Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith) who can actually draw attention from the defense, especially deep down the field. The trade of Jordan Matthews also allows Ertz more opportunities to be the main target in the underneath passing game.

Stefen Wisniewski

It’s hard to imagine the Eagles benching Jason Kelce for a few reasons. Not only is he a leader on the team, but he also plays an important role in making the pre-snap calls. But maybe Kelce will have a short leash if he continues to struggle this season like he has at times over the past two seasons. Maybe the Eagles kept Wisniewski in the event Kelce couldn’t be relied upon. Just a thought.

Elijah Qualls

Qualls finished as the second highest graded player in the Eagles-Packers game. Philadelphia’s sixth-round pick notched four pressures and a run stop in that game. Against the Dolphins, Qualls finished with three tackles, half of a sack, and one quarterback hit.

The defensive tackle position battle is one to watch as final cuts draw near. Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan are locks. Beau Allen is surprisingly healthy now and figures to be the No. 3 guy. Destiny Vaeao is probably the fourth. Do the Eagles keep five? And is that player Qualls or Justin Hamilton? Certainly a good problem to have.

Vinny Curry

Curry’s had a relatively quiet summer but he showed up on Thursday night by strip-sacking Jay Cutler. Multiple Eagles reporters noted Laremy Tunsil struggled to block Curry in practice all week and that didn’t change once the game started.

Curry straight up ate Laremy Tunsil’s lunch. On top of the sack fumble, Curry whooped Tunsil once more in the passing game and again for a stop in the run game. It was an encouraging display for only 14 snaps.

Chris Long

Long looks like a real nice signing for the Eagles. He’s a much better fit for this system than Connor Barwin was. Long can start in a pinch but ideally he can be used as a rotational pass rusher off the bench. Along with generating pressure, he can also defend the run. Long finished his night with two solo tackles.

Honorable Mention

PFF gave the “game ball” to Carson Wentz. The Eagles’ second-year quarterback looked mostly sharp on Thursday evening.

Carson Wentz had 4 incompletions in the game, however none of them was his fault as he had two throw aways, on one pass he was hit as he threw the ball and the other incompletion was on an interception that was batted at the line and intercepted off the rebound.

PFF also gave a dishonorable mention to Ronald Darby, who graded out poorly on Thursday evening after allowing a few big plays. I’ll still argue in defense of Darby.