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Top 10 graded Eagles of 2018 according to PFF

Who made the cut?

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NFL: Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody agrees with Pro Football Focus’ grades, right? Regardless of how you feel about them, they do serve as a solid guideline for how players performed throughout the year. With that in mind, here are PFF’s top 10 graded Philadelphia Eagles of 2018 with a minimum of 300 snaps played.

1. Fletcher Cox – 92.5 (2nd, IDL)

Cox was chasing individual hardware this season and fell short, but that should not diminish his contributions. He led the Eagles with 10.5 sacks and recorded a blistering 95 pressures in the regular season. Among interior defensive lineman, he led the league in QB hits (24) while coming in 3rd in PFF’s pass rush productivity metric (9.3).

Teams were able to focus more attention to Cox this year due to depth issues, but he remained incredibly productive and disruptive. The 28-year old is locked up in a long-term contract and is going to be the cornerstone of the Eagles’ defense for years to come.

2. Brandon Graham – 88.1 (9th, EDGE)

Still recovering from ankle surgery, Graham got off to a slow start. Through the first half of the season he only record 1.5 sacks, but clearly gained some juice back in the second half. He’d end up adding 2.5 more sacks in the regular season with a solid 1.5 sacks in the postseason.

Graham’s best contributions came against the run. His 21 stops place him tied for 8th among edge defenders in PFF’s run stop metric (10.4%, tied with JJ Watt). His film study, paired with his instincts, allow him to fire his gun and sniff out run directions regularly.

Despite another season with marginal sack production, Graham still feels confident that he can cash in during free agency. As such, he will test the market and likely find plenty of eager suitors.

3. Jason Kelce – 83.5 (1st, C)

You don’t need list of stats to show why Jason Kelce has been the best center in the league over the last two years. You simply need to check the tape.

A clear Pro Bowl snub, Kelce dominated for most of 2018 despite dealing with various injuries. He’s under contract for two more years, but whispers of a potential early retirement should be concerning to Eagles’ fans. His technical proficiency, athleticism, consistency and mental processing make him an integral part of the offense and it would be a huge blow if he hangs up the cleats.

4. Jordan Hicks – 80.7 (10th, LB)

When healthy (as is always the qualifier with Hicks), he’s the best linebacker on the team. Hands down. Nigel Bradham’s struggles in coverage against the New Orleans Saints’ should be an eye-opener for the front office. Bradham took over Hicks’ sub-package snaps after his injury and it was a clear downgrade.

The Eagles should leverage Hicks’ shaky-at-best injury history and bring him back on a reasonably priced multi-year deal if possible.

5. Malcolm Jenkins – 79.6 (15th, S)

The heart and soul of the defense, Jenkins is the glue that holds the defensive backfield together. Faced with a perpetually changing line-up around him, Jenkins contributions go beyond his individual performance. He’s a coach on the field and Jim Schwartz leans on him heavily to provide feedback about potential in-game adjustments.

Jenkins has done everything the Eagles have asked since joining the team. He’s played linebacker, nickel, safety, et cetera while also not missing a single snap in 2018. The Eagles might consider drafting a young safety in his mold to groom for the future, but for now it looks like Jenkins has plenty of gas in the tank.

6. Carson Wentz – 79.4 (14th, QB)

Statistically Wentz saw career highs in completion percentage (69.6%), yards per attempt (7.7), and QB Rating (102.2), but he still had his fair share of struggles. Coming back from major knee surgery, Wentz wasn’t as dynamic as a runner or as clean in his footwork, but those talking points got slightly overblown by the local media.

The Saints’ game in Week 11 was a low point for Wentz, who threw three interceptions in one of his worst games as a pro. Wentz rebounded and put on three solid performances that are easy to forget considering the circumstances. Zooming out, Wentz had a stretch of play that put him solidly in the second tier of quarterbacks which was marred by one awful game and the teams’ inability to string together wins.

Much was made in the media about the future of Wentz, but the organization never blinked when it came to naming him their quarterback of the future. They made the right decision.

7. Alshon Jeffery – 79.0 (26th, WR)

There should never have been any doubt regarding what Jeffery adds to the Eagles’ offense. In his first game back, Jeffery recorded 8 catches, 105 yards, and a touchdown. Down the final 5 game stretch, he accumulated 27 catches, 446 yards, and a touchdown. His 2.58 yards per routes run ranked 11th in that span as he dominated in the air.

It’s unfortunate that Jeffery was on the end of the last pass of the season, which bounced off his hands and into the lap of Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Credit goes to the Eagles’ fans, of which there were many, for showing that they still had his back.

8. Lane Johnson – 78.1 (t-12th, OT)

After a rocky start, Johnson quietly hit a stretch of elite play while dealing with an MCL sprain and never looked back. Late in the season he battled the likes of Ryan Kerrigan, JJ Watt, and Khalil Mack and came out the other side smelling of roses. However there were some blips against uber-talented pass rushers Demarcus Lawrence and Cameron Jordan.

Overall, Johnson is an elite level offensive tackle that the Eagles will need to play at his best if the left tackle situation gets hairy in 2019.

9. Nick Foles – 76.6 (19th, QB)

Saint Nick, BDN.. whatever you want to call him, the man is legend in Philadelphia and deservedly so. His insertion into the starting line-up spurred big wins against the Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans, and Chicago Bears. Unfortunately, the magic ran out in the Divisional Round, but he proved yet again that he’s a starting caliber quarterback.

It’s unclear what the future holds for Foles, but none of what happens next will change how he will be viewed in Philadelphia.

10. Zach Ertz – 76.2 (8th, TE)

You don’t set a single-season reception record and not find your way on this list. Ertz’s 116 catches, 1,163 yards, and 8 touchdowns led the Eagles in every category. A beacon of efficiency, Ertz’s 2.04 yards per route run ranked 4th among tight ends in 2018. The pairing of Ertz and Dallas Goedert (aka “GodErtz”) was the Eagles’ best personnel grouping and will continue to give defenses fits for years to come.

Honorable Mentions...

  • Michael Bennett (75.9) made splash plays every week in his first year in green and his value proved far more than the 5th round pick traded to acquire him.
  • Dallas Goedert (75.7) showed serious chops as a blocker and made the most of his opportunities in the passing game. It will be hard to leave him off the field in 2019.
  • In possibly his last year, Chris Long (75.4) provided significant contributions and will be sorely missed if he retires.

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