Every offseason, Pro Football Focus ranks all 32 NFL teams from best to worst based on their proprietary grading system.
Here’s what PFF had to say about the Eagles this year via ESPN In$ider.
Biggest strength: As a part of the most dominant defensive front in football, Brandon Graham had the best year of his career in terms of sack total while continuing to cement his place as one of the most consistent edge defenders at producing pressure. For the second straight year, Graham registered an elite grade, and since 2012, he has averaged just 5.8 pass rushes per pressure generated, which is second to only Von Miller in that span.
Biggest weakness: The departure of Mychal Kendricks, who was the team’s highest-graded linebacker, leaves a question mark over the Eagles’ linebacking corps, with fifth-year player Corey Nelson set to fill the void. Nelson played only 43 snaps last season, and he ended the year with a grade of 64.4, his lowest since 2015.
By the numbers: A season-ending knee injury robbed us of the conclusion of a spectacular breakout sophomore campaign from quarterback Carson Wentz, but fans will nevertheless be excited by what they saw. Wentz showed dramatic improvement under pressure last season and finished with the league’s fourth-best passer rating on pressured throws (81.7), an incredible 48.9 points above his 2016 mark.
The Eagles generated the most pressure of any team — by far — in 2017. The good news is that the Birds still have a lot of defensive line talent. They just need some guys (such as Graham and Tim Jernigan) to get healthy.
I’m not really concerned about Philly’s linebacker situation. Jordan Hicks is injury prone, yes, but he’s also been really freaking good when healthy. Nigel Bradham has proven to be a good starter. Beyond them, Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill have showed some potential in the offseason. Nelson didn’t look as good and he may have struggled in 2017 but he’s been a capable player in the past. The Eagles could always look to add another veteran to the mix if it’s needed. Then there’s the fact the Eagles only played base for 27% of their defensive snaps last season. Jim Schwartz will likely employ a lot of two linebacker sets again in 2018.
Wentz’s second-year improvement was incredible. It’s exciting to think about what he has in store for his comeback tour.
In addition to ranking the Eagles’ roster, PFF also released a breakdown of each team’s starters. They group players into several different tiers based on their PFF grades from the 2017 season.
Elite: Jason Kelce
Good/high quality: Carson Wentz, Jay Ajayi, Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson
Average: Mike Wallace, Stefen Wisniewski
Below average: N/A
Rookie: Dallas Goedert
- Not bad, huh? The Eagles’ offense is pretty stacked.
- Only two players are below the “good” level. Wallace figures to be, like, the fourth most important target in this offense at best. And Wisniewski is a guard. If those are your weakest spots, you’re doing pretty well.
- Wentz should be with Kelce in the “elite” category.
- Wentz, Kelce, Ertz, and Jeffery were all in the “average” category at this time last year.
- I’d be surprised if Goedert doesn’t at least grade out as average as a rookie.
Elite: Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox
Good/high quality: Michael Bennett, Tim Jernigan, Nigel Bradham, Ronald Darby, Malcolm Jenkins
Average: Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod
Below average: Corey Nelson
Poor: Jordan Hicks, Sidney Jones
- Graham maintained his elite status from last year. Cox moved up from “good” to “elite.” Jernigan moved up from “average” to “good.” Mills jumped from “poor” to “average.” Hicks dropped from “good” to “poor.”
- Hicks’ poor grade likely stems from his effectiveness being limited as he played through injury in 2017. Hicks graded out as a top five linebacker after playing all 16 games in 2016. I still have hope for Simba.
- Nelson (43) and Jones (27) both played VERY limited snaps last year. Their grades are based on extremely small sample sizes. We also don’t know if they’ll even be starters for sure.
- The top five teams: Eagles, Falcons, Saints, Patriots, Vikings
- The bottom five teams: Browns, Texans, Colts, Jets, Giants
- The NFC East rankings: 8) Cowboys, 21) Washington, 28) Giants
- The Eagles’ 2018 non-division opponents: 2) Falcons, 27) Buccaneers, 30) Colts, 17) Titans, 5) Vikings, 14) Panthers, 10) Jaguars, 3) Saints, 9) Rams, 31) Texans.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS RANKING?
I think it’s correct. The Eagles won the Super Bowl.