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7 Eagles makes ESPN’s Top 100 NFL players for 2018

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Can you guess them all without looking?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL regular season is fast approaching so it’s time for everyone to release their 2018 preview #content. The folks over at ESPN did their part by making a list of their projected top 100 players in the NFL this year. Here’s how the methodology is described:

We asked a panel of ESPN NFL experts to rate players based on how good they will be in 2018, using a scale from 0-100. We asked them to not emphasize past performance or positional value -- only greatness this season. We then averaged their ratings to create the top 100.

A total of seven players from the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles made the list. Let’s take a look at how they ranked. (Write-ups courtesy of Tim McManus.)

17 - Carson Wentz

Wentz finished second in the NFL with 33 touchdowns passes last season, and that was while missing three-plus games to end the season. He’s still on the mend from a torn ACL and LCL, but he will recapture magic before long.

2017 Rank: N/A

A player who came very close to the being the league MVP last year is only projected to be the 17th best player heading into 2018. There are some reasonable concerns about Wentz’s health and the possibility of statistical regression, but 17th could end up looking pretty low if/when he balls out again like he did in 2017.

29 - Fletcher Cox

Cox flies under the radar because of the position he plays, but he is a menace along the interior and one of the league’s best defenders. He had 36 quarterbacks pressures and 5.5 sacks for the Super Bowl champs last season.

2017 Rank: 57th

It’s nice to see Cox getting some more respect at a national level. That works towards his stated goal of trying to become the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. It’ll always be difficult for him to get the respect he truly deserves since his stats aren’t doesn’t always reflect his impact on the field.

54 - Lane Johnson

When Johnson plays, he is dominant. Suspensions aside, he might be the best right tackle in football. Just ask Carson Wentz. Over the past two seasons, the Eagles are 17-4 when he is in the lineup — and 3-8 when he’s not.

2017 Rank: N/A

Johnson faced a number of top pass rushers last year (Khalil Mack, Von Miller, etc.) and only allowed ONE sack all season. Some offensive line experts have said Johnson was the league’s best tackle in 2017. At 28 years old, Johnson is very much in his prime. He should be poised for another big season.

56 - Malcolm Jenkins

Jenkins’ leadership and versatility are critical components of the Eagles’ defense. At age 30, he has shown no signs of slowing down, racking up 76 tackles last season. His two career Pro Bowl berths have come over the past three seasons.

2017 Rank: N/A

Jenkins is one of the Eagles’ most indispensable players. In addition to stabilizing the back end of Philadelphia’s defense, he’s been able to line up at different spots around the field and make plays since first joining the team back in 2014. One can wonder when we’ll start to see a decline since he’s played so many snaps in his career. Jenkins has only missed nine games in nine years. But the veteran leader has a great work ethic and takes care of himself.

79 - Zach Ertz

Ertz already is one of the best tight ends in football, and the arrow points up. The 27-year-old doubled his previous high for touchdowns in a single season (eight) last year and scored the go-ahead TD in Super Bowl LII against the Patriots.

2017 Rank: N/A

Ertz has a real chance to be the Eagles’ leading receiver for the second season in a row. He’s looked unguardable for most of the offseason. It also doesn’t hurt that Wentz loves throwing to his trusty tight end.

94 - Brandon Graham

Graham’s 2017 season was defined by his strip sack of Tom Brady late in Super Bowl LII, but he was strong throughout with a career-high 9.5 sacks in the regular season. If he can overcome a lingering ankle issue, Graham should continue to dominate.

2017 Rank: N/A

Great to see a fellow BLG getting respect. The Eagles’ Super Bowl hero has every reason to want to have a big year since he’s set to be a free agent after this season.

98 - Jason Kelce

The parade speech was great, but Kelce’s play in 2017 shouldn’t be overlooked. The brains of the Eagles’ offense, his 91.3 grade from Pro Football Focus was the best on the league’s top-rated offensive line. Kelce has some top-shelf years left in him.

2017 Rank: N/A

Kelce also graded out as the NFL’s best run-blocking offensive lineman last year. It was great to see him rebound in 2017 after going through some struggles in both 2015 and 2016. Hopefully the 30-year-old will continue to play at a high level.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

  • The Eagles’ seven players on ESPN’s Top 100 ties the Minnesota Vikings’ as the most in the league.
  • Here’s a reminder of how Eagles players ranked on the NFL Network’s Top 100 list: 3) Carson Wentz, 68) Zach Ertz, 69) Fletcher Cox, 95) Lane Johnson, 96) Malcolm Jenkins. Save for Wentz, Eagles players got more respect from ESPN than they did from their fellow players in 2017.
  • Only ONE Eagles player (Cox) made last year’s ESPN top 100.
  • Who do you think will make this list next year? I feel like Jordan Hicks has the potential to be a top 100 guy if he can just stay healthy. Ronald Darby might be able to crack the list if he can start catching interceptions. Will any of the young guys (Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones, etc.) make a really big jump?