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Is this Eagles roster better than 2017 Super Bowl winners?

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We went position by position, and the results may be exactly what you expect

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

It felt all too easy: the re-signing of Stefen Wisniewski, a steady veteran G/C swing, familiar with the team in need of his depth and reliability.

Of course, Wisniewski lost his job last year, and could have refused to return to Philly — but it seems the rumored sour apples have sweetened enough that he’s willing to come back as a backup.

Wisniewski’s signing is yet another prodigal Eagle return: Vinny Curry and DeSean Jackson the other key names back in Philly. It begged the question: how much exactly does this Eagles roster look like some older ones?

Of course, Jackson was gone before the 2017 Super Bowl season, but Curry and Wis were both key starters on that group. I went position by position to compare the relative strength of the current roster (projected a bit, obviously) to the group that won the Super Bowl only two years ago.

And, well...should be a good season, gang!

Quarterback

2017: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld*

2019: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Cody Kessler

This is an easy one, but a weird one. If you look at the 2017 regular season room, which had Carson Wentz as the starter and a yet immortalized Nick Foles as the backup...well, it doesn’t seem that much better than a room with Wentz as the starter and Sudfeld/Kessler as the QB2 and 3, if 3 are rostered.

That said, we already know the ending of the 2017 story — and unless Nate Sudfeld wants to put together an even less probable playoff run in 2019, we have to give the edge to 2017 here.

EDGE: 2017

*: practice squad

Running Back

2017: Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement

2019: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement

We’re stuck a little bit at running back, because there’s so little known about the Eagles’ 2019 room. Jordan Howard was productive in Chicago, but fell out of grace, and is on a new squad; Miles Sanders is a rookie with only one year of starting film from Penn State; Corey Clement dealt with injury in a disappointing sophomore season.

The 2019 group could be better than that 2017 squad, but it’s easy to forget just what that stable did for Philly. Ajayi and Blount both averaged over 10 carries/game and over 4 yards/attempt, and the three backs combined for just under 1,500 rushing yards over the regular season.

If Philly gets equal production out of the 2019 group, I think it’d be considered a win — so I’m giving the edge to 2017.

EDGE: 2017

Wide Receiver

2017: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Torrey Smith, Mack Hollins

2019: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, DeSean Jackson, JJ Arcega-Whiteside

It’s a pretty straightforward call, when 2017’s WR4 is 2019’s WR5 — the later group is certainly deeper. I would say there hasn’t been a dropoff in Jeffery’s play at all, and even if Agholor’s 2017 was his ceiling, the improvement from Smith to DJax is significant.

And again, we’re stuck with projecting a rookie, which is a dangerous game — but Arcega-Whiteside should be able to contribute more than Mack Hollins’ 22 targets, 16 catches, 226 yards, and one score, even as a WR4.

EDGE: 2019

Tight End

2017: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton

2019: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers

This can get a bit tricky, because it’s hard to let go of our love for Trey Burton — and he did score 5 touchdowns in 2017 as a nice little red zone threat. That 2017 class is deeper, and there’s a case to be made that it was overall better.

Combined, swan song Celek and Burton accounted for 55 targets, 36 catches, and 378 yards (10.5 y/c), and 6 receiving touchdowns. Last season, Goedert alone posted 44 targets, 33 catches, 334 yards (10.1 y/c), and 4 receiving touchdowns — and that’s with a significant uptick in Zach Ertz usage from 2017 to 2018.

Considering the development of Zach Ertz since 2017, and the assumed development of Dallas Goedert in Year 2, and I think the 2019 group wins out.

EDGE: 2019

Offensive Line

2017: Jason Peters*, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack

2019: Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski

In 2017, the Eagles got 12 total games of starting Big V — 9 in the regular season, 3 in the postseason. They handled that well, but this year, they’ll have the option — assuming Big V even remains on the roster — of playing him or first-rounder Andre Dillard, should Jason Peters go down.

In 2017, the Eagles got 17 total games of starting Stefen Wisniewski — 14 in regular season, 3 in the post season. This year, he’s the swing backup for them on the interior, as Isaac Seumalo won the starting job last year.

My point: this group is older, and that’s worth calculating given the age of Kelce and Peters. But it’s also way, way deeper — and those starters are still as good as any line in the league. This isn’t a hard one.

EDGE: 2019

*: Peters was only active for 7 games in 2017

Defensive End

2017: Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Steven Means

2019: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller

I think it’s easy to forget that Vinny Curry was the starter in 2017 — he took 776 snaps on defense, to Chris Long’s 618 and Derek Barnett’s 596. Now, on 2019’s squad, he’s the EDGE3, as Barnett has taken the starting role.

The big question here is Barnett: despite being out-snapped by Curry in 2017, he produced better (5 sacks to Curry’s 3, in the regular season). With Brandon Graham still getting after the quarterback in his 30s, can Barnett be a dominant EDGE that puts offenses in a bind?

You could ask a similar question, on a smaller scale, of Josh Sweat, who now has to replace Chris Long as the EDGE4 — no small task, given Long’s 744 snaps last season. Is depth the bigger concern over Barnett’s development?

2017’s gonna get the edge here, but it’s tight.

EDGE: 2017

Defensive Tackle

2017: Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao

2019: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Timmy Jernigan, Hassan Ridgeway

Again, we have a 2017 starter in a 2019 reserve role — Jernigan figures to rotate heavily with Jackson, as his health allows. But this isn’t a hard one, and we shouldn’t make it out to be: the 2019 group is clearly better. The addition of Jackson gives the Eagles three fearsome interior pass rushers.

EDGE: 2019

Linebacker

2017: Jordan Hicks*, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Joe Walker, Kamu Grugier-Hill

2019: Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Zach Brown, L.J. Fort, Paul Worrilow, Nate Gerry

You could basically throw your hands up and call uncle on this one. The Eagles had 7 good games of Jordan Hicks in 2017, a generally great Nigel Bradham, a streaky Mychael Kendricks, and a carousel behind them as they looked for a solution to the Hicks vacuum (I couldn’t bring myself to list Dannell Ellerbe).

How good was that group? Heck if I know!

Same goes for 2019, as we’ll see Bradham permanently without Hicks, Brown likely pushing for the starting MIKE job, and further development from Kamu Grugier-Hill — who I thought was, at the very least, promising in 2018. There’s a slew of bodies battling for depth behind those three, and your guess is as good as mine regarding who ends up rostered.

EDGE: Push

*: Hicks was only active for 7 games in 2017

Cornerback

2017: Ronald Darby*, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Dexter McDougle

2019: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones

Just the fact that I couldn’t list all of the relevant Eagles corners for 2019 should tell you how this one’s gonna go.

Rasul Douglas is a significantly better player than he was when thrust into playing time during his rookie season; Avonte Maddox’s success in nickel coverage is filling the void that Robinson left behind; Sidney Jones is actually available to play; and of course, Cre’von LeBlanc was woefully omitted.

The Eagles have some work to do, in terms of figuring out their 2019 corner room. But there’s no doubt it’s a better group than 2017 offered.

EDGE: 2019

*: Darby was only active for 11 games in 2017

Safety

2017: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Jaylen Watkins

2019: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Tre Sullivan

You can substitute any name you want into SAF4 for 2019. I think Sullivan is the clubhouse leader right now, but if you’re a Blake Countess/Godwin Igwebuike/Deiondre’ Hall stan...live your dreams, pal.

This pretty much circles back to McLeod’s health. If he can return to 100% following his ACL/MCL tear, the Eagles have better depth in 2019 than they ever got from Graham/Watkins in 2017. If McLeod doesn’t fully recover, then 2017 might edge it out.

Graham and Watkins combined for over 500 snaps in 2017 — Sendejo, who’s a markedly better player than either, should have a measurable positive impact on the defense if he plays anywhere near those numbers.

Of course, he has to stay rostered — which is guaranteed, given the comp pick discussion that surrounds him. Because of McLeod’s health and Sendejo’s tenuous tenure, I’m gonna leave it as a push.

EDGE: Push

Final Results

2017: QB, RB, DE

2019: WR, TE, OL, DT, CB

Push: LB, S

When we go positionally, it seems like the 2019 roster is better than the 2017 group that won the Super Bowl. Holistically, I have to say I agree: I think this team, overall, is at the very least comparable and at the best measurably better at some key spots.

Of course, the 2019 Eagles will go as Carson Wentz goes. We didn’t much discuss his health issues, which began infamously at the tail end of that 2017 season. If he isn’t the player he was in 2017, during the MVP-caliber run, then sod the rest of the roster: the Eagles won’t be able to compete for a Super Bowl anytime soon.

But if we cross our fingers tightly enough, and he returns to full health, this roster is good enough to bring us back to the Lombardi again.

Poll

Which Eagles roster is better?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    2017 version
    (515 votes)
  • 74%
    2019 version
    (1498 votes)
2013 votes total Vote Now