Now that football is starting back up again (multiple teams reported for training camp this week), ESPN is back with their annual “NFL Future Power Rankings.” This activity is designed to project which teams are in the best shape for the scope of the next three seasons. The rankings are generated by a panel that consists of Louis Riddick, Field Yates, and Kevin Seifert.
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles finished at No. 1 overall in these rankings. Hardly shocking coming off the team’s Super Bowl LII win. After failing to make it out of the Divisional Round this year, the Eagles dropped down two spots to No. 3 overall. That’s still good for the best outlook in the NFC with only the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots ahead of Philly.
Here’s a look at the specific category grades and rankings. The number in parentheses represents how the score has changed since 2018. All scores are out of 100.
OVERALL ROSTER MINUS QB: 87.7 (-1.3) — 1st in the NFL
QUARTERBACK: 90.0 (+0.0) — 5th in the NFL
COACHING: 86.0 (-3.7) — 6th in the NFL
DRAFT: 81.7 (-2.0) — 4th in the NFL
FRONT OFFICE: 88.3 (-1.7) — 3rd in the NFL
No real shockers here. It’s widely agreed the Eagles have one of the best roster in the NFL, if not the best. They also have one of the smartest front offices.
The biggest surprise to me was the quarterback grade not changing at all. I’m a big believer in Wentz but I thought the judges would give more weight to injury concerns, not to mention the loss of Nick Foles. Yates chalked up Wentz’s injuries to bad luck more than anything else.
Executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman is one of the league’s best and has done an excellent job of extending and retaining the primary core of his roster, with quarterback Carson Wentz recently signed to a sizable contract. This team is littered with talent on both sides of the ball, has a standout head coach and one of the top front offices in the league. The future is exceedingly bright, with much of the focus going forward being on Wentz’s health. There is a difference between a player being injury-prone and having poor luck; Wentz feels like the latter after tearing his ACL in 2017 and then dealing with a back issue in 2018. Provided that the back issue doesn’t affect him in the future, the Eagles are set up for sustained, high-level success.
We all know that Wentz is the make-or-break factor for the Eagles’ Super Bowl aspirations. If he’s healthy, the Eagles should be in great shape.
... or not? Riddick highlighted Wentz’s playing style — not his health — as the “biggest worry” for the Eagles moving forward.
Will Wentz take the advice of those who will be working the closest with him in 2019 and just be the point guard of the offense? Will he be more Magic Johnson and less Michael Jordan? Meaning, can he just distribute the football and let the playmakers do the work, pick his spots when to “make a play and be great” and not try to do everything himself and put his availability at risk? If he does what they want him to do, he will win the MVP in 2019 and the Eagles will be back in the Super Bowl. If he doesn’t, Nick Foles isn’t around as the backup anymore.
To be clear, Riddick is far from a Wentz hater. Riddick previously tweeted that he believes Wentz is going to be the 2019 NFL MVP.
I get where Riddick is coming from here. Wentz can’t just play hero ball; he needs to be smart. I just don’t love the idea of trying to neuter what makes Wentz special. The Eagles were great under Wentz’s lead in 2017; I don’t think they need to reinvent the wheel with him. Also, I’d wager the Eagles sure wouldn’t mind Wentz being the NFL’s Michael Jordan as the greatest player who ever played his sport.
The last main focus from ESPN’s write-up is the “What could change for the better” section. Here’s what they said on that note:
The Eagles are in awfully good shape, with a young quarterback signed to a long-term deal, a championship-winning coaching staff and the best overall roster in this panel’s reckoning. So what could improve their situation? How about a bit more attention to the interior of their offensive line, where center Jason Kelce will be 32 this season and the guard position lacks depth?
Yeah, when people are pointing to interior offensive line depth as one of a team’s biggest needs worth addressing, I think that team is in awfully good shape.
Kelce’s outlook is definitely something the Eagles will need to be thinking about. He almost retired earlier this offseason. Philadelphia would’ve been pretty screwed if he did hang ‘em up because there’s no inspiring in-house replacement.
As for guard, Brandon Brooks turns 30 in August as he works his way back from an Achilles injury. Issac Seumalo, meanwhile, signed a contract extension that basically gives the Eagles a trial period to evaluate him further as a long-term starter. Stefen Wisniewski, 30, is under contract for 2019 but he’ll be a free agent again next year. The Eagles could definitely afford to stock the interior offensive line pipeline next offseason.
Elsewhere in these Future Power Rankings, the non-Eagles NFC East teams aren’t looking so hot.
The Dallas Cowboys rank second in the division at No. 14. There’s concern about Dak Prescott, as there should be. We know the Cowboys can win with him. But do they really win because of him? Dallas also needs to figure out their head coach situation with Jason Garrett entering a contract year.
Washington checks in down at No. 27. There’s some potential for optimism if Dwayne Haskins turns out to be any good. But that optimism must be tempered by the presence of Dan Snyder and the dysfunctional culture that exists down in DC. Washington’s front office is ranked second worst in the league.
The NFL team with the second worst outlook in the league? That’s the New York Football Giants. This team is doomed with a clueless Dave Gettleman running the show.