Pro Football Focus recently put out their annual “top 101 players” rankings now that the 2019 NFL season is over. Only four Philadelphia Eagles players made the final cut last year but the total is up to seven this time around. Let’s take a look together.
5. BRANDON BROOKS
Last year: Unranked
Brandon Brooks tore his Achilles at the tail end of the 2018 season — in January 2019, to be exact — so playing to even a respectable level this year would have been an achievement. Instead, Brooks went ahead and had the best season of his career and was the best offensive lineman in football fresh off the back of an injury that almost invariably affects performance in the first year a player returns from it. Brooks surrendered just one sack and 19 total pressures all season, and he earned the best run-blocking grade in the NFL among guards. He won PFF’s Bruce Matthews Award as the league’s best lineman and continued to get even better, despite being one the most underrated players in the league.
Aside from his anxiety flaring up in Week 12 and suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 17, the 2019 season was a pretty awesome one for Brooks. He played at a high level for nearly the entire season and he signed a four-year contract extension worth $54.2 million. BBrooks is the man.
It’s too bad that he’ll have to spend a second straight offseason recovering from a significant injury but at least he should be ready to dominate again during the 2020 season.
34. LANE JOHNSON
Last year: Unranked
At his best, and when healthy, Lane Johnson is one of a few right tackles who can make a case to be seen as the best in the league. When he went out of the lineup, there was a noticeable drop in play despite his backup, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, actually performing reasonably well. Johnson had the best run-blocking grade (92.6) of any tackle in football this season, and he allowed only one sack across 454 pass-blocking snaps. Injury limited him to just 12 games, however, and that’s what keeps him from being among the very best players on this list, because in pure grading terms, this was the best season of his career.
Johnson was upset about not being named to the original Pro Bowl roster. He said he felt like 2019 was his best season to date. Johnson ultimately did make his third straight Pro Bowl as other(s) ahead of him dropped out of the game.
The Eagles signed Johnson to a four-year, $72 million contract extension back in late November. The team is counting on him to continue to play like an elite right tackle for seasons to come.
44. FLETCHER COX
Last year: No. 5
Much like Aaron Donald, Fletcher Cox wasn’t quite able to live up to his performance from a season ago. However, even after taking a step backward this year, he was still one of the most dominant interior forces in the league. He finished the year with 56 total pressures, adding four more in the team’s wild-card defeat in the postseason. Cox also tallied 23 defensive stops and an overall PFF grade of 89.5, having posted the best game of his season when it mattered most — the playoffs — albeit in a losing effort.
Cox definitely wasn’t bad in 2019 but he wasn’t as dominant as the team needed to be. He finished with the second lowest sack total of his career and he didn’t frequently take over games like has in the past.
The Eagles are hoping that Cox bounces back after having a full healthy offseason to get ready for 2020. Malik Jackson staying healthy this year would also help him out.
53. JASON KELCE
Last year: No. 64
Jason Kelce played every snap of the Eagles’ season — all 1,163 of them — the most of any center in the NFL this season, before adding 64 more in the wild-card loss. Kelce’s run blocking is one of the most important elements in the Eagles’ ground game, and his ability to make tough blocks on the move separates him from other centers. He ended the year as the top-graded player at his position once again, even if his pass blocking slipped a little this year to a PFF grade of 67.6.
Kelce earned AP All-Pro first team (third straight season), PFWA All-NFL team, PFF All-Pro team, and Pro Bowl honors for his 2019 performance. He’s an awesome player that the Eagles are fortunate to have.
60. BRANDON GRAHAM
Last year: No. 50
Brandon Graham will forever be one of the league’s most underrated players because he is the poster child for pass-rush production in the form of pressure over sacks. Graham again finished with fewer than 10 sacks, but he had 67 total pressures over the course of the year. Graham ended the season with an overall PFF grade of 84.2 and makes the PFF Top 101 list for the sixth time in his career. He also registered 38 defensive stops and was once again solid against the run in most games.
Graham’s ranking slipped despite finishing 2019 with the second highest sack total of his career. BLG isn’t an elite player at his position but he is a good one to have around.
72. JASON PETERS
Last year: Unranked
As impressive as it is for quarterbacks to be playing late into their 30s and into their 40s, imagine the same thing happening at tackle, where 250-pound plus players are coming at you every snap. Somehow, Jason Peters is still playing at a very high level late into his 30s. Peters surrendered just 25 total pressures over the season and had good grades as both a run blocker and pass protector. As has been a trend with him lately, he did miss some time through injury, but he still racked up 936 total snaps over the entire season (including playoffs).
PFF graded Peters as their sixth best offensive tackle from 2019. JP, who’s set to be a free agent in March, said he still intends on playing in 2020 despite recently turning 38 years old. It’s not going to be for the Eagles, right? Especially after the team traded up in the 2019 NFL Draft to select his replacement in the form of Andre Dillard?
75. DALLAS GOEDERT
Last year: Unranked
At times this season, Dallas Goedert was the last man standing in the Philadelphia Eagles receiving corps, as everybody else was struck down with injury at one time or another. Goedert wasn’t as productive as some other tight ends on this list, but he earned impressive PFF grades in every facet of play we grade, topping at least 70.0 in every category. As a run blocker, he was a significant boost to a powerful offensive line, and he also made several impressive highlight-reel catches over the season.
Spoiler alert: Goedert is the only Eagles tight end to make this list. That’s right, no Zach Ertz. Goedert finished with only a slightly better receiving grade but a way better blocking grade than Ertz.
I can’t see the Eagles trading Ertz; I actually think he’ll be signing an extension this offseason. But this PFF ranking is only fuel for the minority that thinks Ertz should be traded and Goedert should be elevated to the No. 1 tight end.
NOTABLY DIDN’T MAKE THE LIST
As previously noted, Ertz didn’t make the list despite making his third Pro Bowl in 2019. Ertz was No. 91 in last year’s rankings.
Malcolm Jenkins was PFF’s 46th highest graded safety.
Miles Sanders checks in at 56th in PFF’s running back grades. He didn’t make PFF’s list of top 50 rookies. Kinda weird considering he led all rookies in yards from scrimmage and subsequently had a case for Offensive Rookie of the Year!