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ESPN NFL Future Power Rankings: 2018 Edition

The Eagles’ future is bright.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Right before training camp begins every offseason, ESPN In$ider puts out their “NFL Future Power Rankings” in order to project which teams are in the best shape for the next three seasons. The rankings are generated by a panel that consists of Louis Riddick, Field Yates, and Mike Sando.

How valuable are these rankings? Well, consider the Eagles ranked 24th in 2016 and then 19th last year before going on to win the Super Bowl. So maybe not very much.

In any case, Philadelphia’s championship success now has them ranked first overall this year.

Here’s how the Eagles ranked in all five future power ranking categories. The number in parentheses represents how the score has changed since 2017. All scores are out of 100.

ROSTER: 89.0 (+13.0) - 1st in the NFL

QUARTERBACK: 90.0 (+8.7) - 3rd in the NFL

COACHING: 89.7 (+20.0) - 2nd in the NFL

DRAFT: 83.7 (+9.7) - 1st in the NFL

FRONT OFFICE: 90.0 (+11.7) - 1st in the NFL

The grades indicate the Eagles are strong across the board. The quarterback position and the front office were specifically highlighted by Yates:

The Eagles not only have arguably the best long-term plan at quarterback in the NFL in Carson Wentz, but also there is short-term security with Nick Foles. Oh, by the way, a significant core of this roster is locked up for the foreseeable future thanks to the aggressive mindset of executive vice president of football operations/GM Howie Roseman: Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett and Rodney McLeod are among those signed through 2020.

I see no lies here. The Eagles do have a fantastic quarterback situation. Wentz is an MVP caliber quarterback and Foles just won Super Bowl MVP. The Eagles’ ability to win a Vince Lombardi Trophy despite suffering so many key injuries was a testament to their roster depth. The Eagles are only tight on cap space because they already have a lot of good players under contract.

We’ve heard a lot of good things about the Eagles this offseason. Such is life after winning the Super Bowl. But the NFL is a year-to-year league and things can change quickly. What are the biggest concerns with the Eagles?

There isn’t much that I don’t like about the long-term future of this team. The consequences of success are what concerns me the most, particularly when it comes to coaches leaving for bigger roles and more responsibility with other teams. We saw it happen this offseason with OC Frank Reich becoming a head coach, and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo becoming the OC in Minnesota. Having a succession plan will be critical in cases such as this in order to maintain what is a championship culture.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles handle the losses of Reich and Flip. Given the team’s success last year, I don’t think we can underrate their importance. At the same time, it’s kind of a hard thing to measure. How will we know that they are being missed? It’s possible the Eagles offense could take a step back this year even if they stayed since Philly might be due for some natural regression.

The Eagles felt strongly enough about Mike Groh and Press Taylor to promote from within. We’ll see if that was the right move. It’s at least nice to know that the Eagles won’t have to be dealing with a play-caller change since Doug Pederson handles those responsibilities.

While it’s natural to examine the Eagles’ roster for concerns, it’s also fair to wonder what areas they can actually improve. ESPN is eyeing the secondary in that regard.

The Eagles ranked in the NFL’s top three across every category, so it might be unrealistic for Philly to exceed expectations. But what if 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones became a shutdown corner after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon? The talent would seem to be there. If it happened, the Eagles could get massive value from a position where all their top players are playing on lower-priced rookie deals.

Jones does have that x-factor potential. The Eagles did say he was a top 10 player on their board in the 2017 NFL Draft. It’s possible he could be a major factor in this defense.

It’s also very possible Jones might not be ready to make that kind of instant impact. He’s not even guaranteed playing time with Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby ahead of him on the depth chart at outside corner. There’s also competition for nickel corner snaps.

After missing some time in spring practices due to a “lower body injury,” it’ll be interesting to see what Jones brings to the table in training camp and preseason games this year. Even if he doesn’t make an impact this year, there’s still plenty of reason to believe in the 22-year-old’s long-term outlook.

Overall, it’s hard to argue with ESPN’s rankings. The Eagles have one of the best quarterback - head coach - front office triumvirates in the NFL. That group can further cement their status by repeating as Super Bowl champs in 2018.

Elsewhere in the future power rankings, the Eagles are way out in front of their NFC East division rivals. The Dallas Cowboys have dropped from being sixth last year to 17th this year. Washington trails further behind at 24th while the New York Giants are at 27th.

Seven of the top 10 overall teams represent the National Football Conference: 1) Eagles, 3) Saints, 4) Vikings, 6) Falcons, 7) Rams, 8) Packers, 10) Seahawks.

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