NFL power rankings exist in the offseason?! You bet.
Let’s take a look at how the Philadelphia Eagles stack up first before taking stock of the rest of their decision.
5) The Eagles didn’t help themselves in the draft as much as many would have liked them to, but our panel is envisioning a bounce-back year for a squad that won four straight games just to reach the playoffs.
In the words of Survivor legend Tony Vlachos: “Top five, baby!”
The only teams above the Birds: the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens, the San Francisco 49ers, and the New Orleans Saints. Even the most optimistic Eagles fans should be able to admit those are reasonable superiors.
Five feels too high, though. Pretty generous when it comes to giving this team the benefit of the doubt.
7) It’s been more than three weeks and we’re still thinking about the selection of Jalen Hurts in the second round (and this excellent film breakdown by Ted Nguyen helps give a glimpse into how the Eagles could use him). The question we’re trying to answer, though, is after free agency and the draft, are the Eagles better than the Cowboys? Our panel still seems to think so.
You can make the case the Eagles are better than the Cowboys and vice versa. It’s a close race.
9) They added some much-needed speed outside in the draft, but why did they take Jalen Hurts in the second round? Carson Wentz is the guy - and should be.
A fair question.
Battle Red Blog
9) If you think small sample sizes are for losers, which they are, because there’s no such thing as large sample sizes in life, you’d believe that Jalen Raegor’s addition will take the top off the Eagles’ offense, because you remember how great they were in Week One 2019 when DeSean Jackson dropped 154 yards and 2 touchdowns against one of the worst passing defenses in the league. Raegor can fill that void, and Week One 2019 can become a season long continuation instead of a one game aberration. Speed kills. It creates space for everyone to thrive. It opens up space after the second level in the run game. It has a cascading and crushing effect on defenses. It’s hard to refute the logic surrounding the Raegor selection. The key for the Eagles isn’t getting anything out of Reagor though. The key is getting anything out of their wide receiver group at all. The most targets they had at the position were the 73 that went to Alshon Jeffery in 10 games. Carson Wentz had a casting couch at the receiver position. The only consistent targets he had were his tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Wentz needs to have a better 2020 after zany decisions and dropped interceptions. Hopefully he has some semblance of normal at the position in 2020. The talent is here now that the Alka Seltzer has metabolized and cured the Super Bowl hangover. They have the best combined offensive and defensive line talent in the league. Slay can take away an offense’s best receiver. Most of their secondary issues will be solved if they ever figure out how to run quarters coverage. And the offensive potential is there for a top ten offense. Philadelphia has never fully put it together with Wentz at quarterback for an extended period of time. The heavenly bodies have never fully align. Whether it’s a torn knee, or injured receivers, something always prevent Syzygy.
Common misspelling of Reagor’s last name aside, solid analysis here from SB Nation’s Houston Texans blog.
9) Two positions stood out like a proverbial sore thumb for the defending NFC East champions in 2020. The Philadelphia Eagles badly needed help at wide receiver and cornerback. They got help at wide receiver in the draft, using their first pick on TCU’s Jalen Reagor and a fifth-rounder on John Hightower of Boise State. But for reasons known only to general manager Howie Roseman, rather than add a cornerback on Day 2 of the draft, the Eagles elected to select Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. It’s understandable, given the issues Carson Wentz has had staying healthy, that Philly wants a viable Plan B under center. But that was a lot of draft capital to expend on one given the razor-thin margin between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys last year. The Eagles are a good team with a track record of success in recent years that includes a Super Bowl win. But the receivers still aren’t great, and the secondary is an antonym for great. In a stacked NFC, that could mean trouble in 2020.
Would anyone be truly shocked if the Eagles have receiver and/or corner issues again this season? The team did some things to address those spots, yes. And it’s possible things work out in a good way! Hopefully it does. But it’s not a lock. There’s still a good deal of uncertainty.
11) I love the signing of Darius Slay. This team is in a great position for a bounce back year.
Trade, not a signing, but you get the point. Assuming he’s able to stay healthy and stave off decline, Slay could be the best corner the Eagles have had in some time. Of course, that’s not really saying much.
12) Player who benefited: TE Zach Ertz. The Eagles invested heavily in speed receivers, using draft picks on Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and Quez Watkins and trading for Marquise Goodwin. Add them to DeSean Jackson, and you have a group that will stretch the field and open things up underneath for Dallas Goedert and Ertz, who was double- and triple-teamed last season with few dynamic playmakers around him. The influx of receiver talent will help Carson Wentz too, though the Jalen Hurts selection in Round 2 makes it hard to select Wentz as the player who benefits most from this draft.
If all goes to plan, the Eagles’ offense should be a lot more explosive than the boring, plodding slog we’ve endured through the past couple seasons. Generating more big plays would go a long way towards increased success. Just think back to how the Eagles looked in Week 1 last year. It was like they were playing a different sport relative to the rest of the season.
12) Should get numerous players back healthy, and this is only NFC East team returning its head coach. As for the draft? Not pretty at the top.
It’ll be interseting to see just how much of an advantage the Eagles truly have by not hiring a new coaching staff ahead of a shortened offseason.
13) The Eagles return Doug Pederson’s seasoned offense with Carson Wentz, getting the new speedy wide receiver they needed in Jalen Reagor. Defensively, they further fortified their front with Hargrave and got Darius Slay to clean up cornerback, but linebacker and safety (without Malcolm Jenkins) will be concerns. They will be in a tight fight with the Cowboys in the NFC East once again.
The Eagles are definitely banking on a lot of projection at linebacker and safety. Are Nathan Gerry and T.J. Edwards truly ready to be full-time starters? How will Jalen Mills handle the transition from cornerback to safety as he aims to be the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins replacement?
14) Packers fans were stunned to watch their team draft a quarterback in the first round of Thursday’s draft. Eagles supporters were similarly befuddled when GM Howie Roseman pulled the trigger on Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a position of need, but Philly can no longer ignore the possibility that Carson Wentz will simply never be a durable quarterback. Hurts provides Doug Pederson with much-needed insurance and a dynamic athlete opposing teams must factor into the game plan (think: Taysom Hill in New Orleans). And let’s not act like the Eagles didn’t help Wentz out: The team used its first pick (25th overall) on explosive TCU star Jalen Reagor, who molded himself into a first-round target despite being saddled with subpar QB play in college. Deep breath, Eagles fans.
It’s annoying that “Philly can no longer ignore the possibility that Carson Wentz will simply never be a durable quarterback” is being written after a season where he started 17 games.
Regarding Reagor, there’s definitely reason to be excited about him. But what if I told you back in January that he would be the only significant wide receiver addition the Eagles were going to make this offseason? Would you really be totally fine with that?
14) Maybe the Jalen Hurts pick will make sense. I can’t say I understand it. It seemed like the selection of a team that is trying to outsmart itself.
18) Carson Wentz’s inability to stay on the field has been a problem, but the Eagles shouldn’t have used a second-round pick on his backup. Know what else gets a quarterback hurt? A shoddy supporting cast.
Wow, and people say I’m too down on the Eagles. I think they’re at least a playoff caliber squad that belongs in the top 14. Not even a top half team in these rankings? Harsh.
This average bears out how I feel about the Eagles: they’re good but not great.
It’s possible everything falls into place for them like it did back in 2017. They have the ceiling of a championship contender.
They also have some question marks — as previously noted — that could prove to be problematic.
If I’m power ranking the Eagles, I’d definitely have the following teams ahead of them: the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens, the New Orleans Saints, and the Seattle Seahawks. Then you start to get into arguable territory with teams like: the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers, the Tenneseee Titans, etc. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a wild card (perhaps more than just figuratively) depending on if Tom Brady is truly washed up or not. I don’t know why so many rankings consistently have the Buffalo Bills ahead of the Eagles, relax with that. There will be at least one bad team from last year that could make a big jump, maybe that’s the Arizona Cardinals?
So, yeah, I’d put the Eagles somewhere around 10, give or take a couple spots. What say you?
The Eagles have an average ranking of 11 in the offseason NFL power rankings. Is that ...
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Pivoting to the other NFC East teams ...
The Cowboys suffered a number of free agent losses, including Byron Jones and Robert Quinn. But they restocked their pipeline with young talent in the form of a draft class that’s been lauded as the best in the league. The Cowboys’ offense was great last year and there’s reason to believe it’ll be dangerous again. The Eagles stand every chance to beat Dallas but things could also easily go the other way.
Arrowhead Pride — 5th
Battle Red Blog — 6th
NFL.com — 7th
B/R — 7th
NBCSP — 7th
Yahoo! Sports — 9th
Sports Illustrated — 10th
CBS Sports — 10th
ESPN — 10th
Sporting News — 11th
The Athletic — 11th
USA Today — 13th
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Arrowhead Pride: They paid Amari Cooper a lot of money, and they paid Ezekiel Elliot a lot of money. Will they pay Dak a lot of money too?
Battle Red Blog: If you play the 2019 season 100 times, the Dallas Cowboys make the postseason 99 times; in one of those simulations, they lose to the Eagles in Week 17. On a play-by-play basis, they were one of the best teams in the league. They were mired with one score losses and failing to come back from behind when down at the half. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore didn’t help matters with his staunch beliefs in first down rushing attempts and failing to scheme for the opponent, even if he came up with some delectable plays. That was last season. Now the Cowboys are even better. They added defensive line depth in Gallimore, McCoy, and Poe. DeMarcus Lawrence should put up sacks again next season after putting up lonely pressures last year. They finally have a safety now that Heath has been replaced by Clinton-Dix. Adding the carousel that is Lamb is absolutely unfair. Plus Ezekiel Elliott won’t be losing his remote control in Mexico during training camp and should be in shape once football finally starts. It’s a simple algorithm. Great performance + bad luck + offseason improvement = following season win total increase.
NFL.com: How about them Cowboys? Jerry Jones and Co. did excellent work in the draft, finding value up and down the board. It might not have been the plan to select a wide receiver in the first round, but Dallas didn’t expect CeeDee Lamb to still be on the board at No. 17. Question: Would the ‘Boys have re-signed Amari Cooper to that massive contract if they knew Lamb was going to fall to them? We’ll never know, but we do know that Lamb joins Cooper and Michael Gallup to form one of the most talented wide receiver groups in football. Elsewhere, Dallas added depth and starting options at offensive line, defensive line and cornerback. This feels like your NFC East favorite.
B/R: Things are rarely boring in Dallas, and the 2020 offseason was no exception. After failing to make the postseason last year, head coach Jason Garrett was finally shown the door by Jerry Jones. He’s been replaced by longtime Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, who inherits a roster that’s not short on talent on either side of the ball. The offense, in particular, is loaded. Dallas has a stout O-line, one of the game’s best running backs in Ezekiel Elliott and a wide receiver corps that added a player many considered the best receiver in the class of 2020 in CeeDee Lamb. However, there were some significant losses in free agency. There’s a sizable hole in the middle of the offensive front after Travis Frederick retired. The team’s leader in sacks last year (Robert Quinn) and top cornerback (Byron Jones) followed trucks filled with money out of town. And there’s the looming stigma after years of failing to play up to the talent level. If McCarthy can do what Garrett couldn’t and get the most from this roster, the Cowboys could be a Super Bowl contender. That’s a Texas-sized “if,” though.
NBCSP: The Cowboys were having a strong offseason before April, hiring Mike McCarthy, retaining core players and adding quality vets. Then they killed the draft, landing prospects like WR CeeDee Lamb and CB Trevon Diggs.
Yahoo! Sports: The Cowboys are going to have a heck of a fun offense. Their nearly impeccable draft helps make up for an offseason that wasn’t going too well during free agency. Getting Dak Prescott the extension he wants might be smart because if he plays for the franchise tag, he has a shot to win MVP on that one-year deal.
Sports Illustrated: The Jason Garrett Era is finally over, and there’ll be plenty of pressure on Mike McCarthy after a great draft in Big D.
CBS Sports: They had a nice draft, and receiver CeeDee Lamb will help the offense, but does the Dak Prescott contract situation impact this team? I think it can.
ESPN: Player who benefited: QB Dak Prescott. We don’t know when or if Prescott will show up for the virtual offseason program as he awaits a long-term contract, but whenever he is back, how can he not benefit from the addition of CeeDee Lamb in the first round? With Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Lamb, the Cowboys might feature the best three-receiver group they have ever had. Add that to Ezekiel Elliott, a good offensive line (even without Travis Frederick) and new coach Mike McCarthy, and the offense should flourish, which means Prescott will flourish. Quarterbacks across the league should envy the position Prescott is in.
Sporting News: They have good new coaching momentum with Mike McCarthy and Mike Nolan. They lost Randall Cobb and Travis Frederick offensively but rebounded well with CeeDee Lamb and Tyler Biadasz. They also stole Bradlee Anae and Neville Gailmore for their revamped defensive front to replace Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins. Byron Jones will be hard to replace at cornerback, but rookie Trevon Diggs can be a star and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix is a coverage upgrade from Jeff Heath.
The Athletic: It’s a slight climb since our last rankings, in which the Cowboys were No. 12 after free agency, after what was widely considered to be a very good draft by the Jones family. None of us could have imagined CeeDee Lamb falling into the Cowboys’ laps, and while wide receiver wasn’t a pressing need for the Cowboys, the reality is that it looks like their best chance to win this year is going to be through a loaded, high-scoring offense. And things are as optimistic as ever in Dallas.
USA Today: A seemingly brilliant draft headlined by first-round WR CeeDee Lamb provides justified optimism. But newcomer Mike McCarthy still must stir pot ... maybe without QB Dak Prescott’s assistance for foreseeable future.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Daniel Jones could make a Year 2 leap. Joe Judge could prove to be the Giants’ version of Doug Pederson. But until I see it happen, I’m reluctant to believe it. Dave Gettleman has hardly earned the benefit of the doubt.
Sporting News — 16th
NBCSP — 21st
B/R — 25th
Yahoo! Sports — 26th
Arrowhead Pride — 28th
NFL.com — 28th
Sports Illustrated — 28th
ESPN — 29th
Battle Red Blog — 29th
CBS Sports — 30th
The Athletic — 30th
USA Today — 30th
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Sporting News: The Giants upgraded at right tackle with Andrew Thomas as needed for their offense, which is pretty promising with Daniel Jones going into Year 2 under Joe Judge and Jason Garrett. Defensively, they got three new impact starters in their back seven in Martinez, James Bradberry and Xavier McKinney. The Giants will be hot NFC playoff sleepers.
NBCSP: If OT Andrew Thomas adapts to the NFL quickly and can keep Daniel Jones clean, the offense is loaded. The defense is a bit more of a work in progress, but it will be tough to outscore the Giants.
B/R: It was no secret that the offensive line was a major area of need for the New York Giants entering the draft. As Ralph Vacchiano reported for SNY, general manager Dave Gettleman came away from said draft pleased with the additions that were made up front. “Well, you know, we feel real good about it,” Gettleman said shortly after the draft wrapped up on Saturday. “We’ve got two tackles and a guard that we feel real strong about. Adding them to what we already have now, we’re very pleased with this.” There’s no denying that tackle Andrew Thomas (drafted fourth overall) should provide an immediate impact on Daniel Jones’ blind side. Tackle Matt Peart and guard Shane Lemieux should provide depth along a line that lacked in that department last year. Free-agent linebacker Blake Martinez and rookie safety Xavier McKinney are improvements on a defense that ranked 25th in the NFL a year ago. All that’s well and good. But if the Giants take a big step forward in 2020, it will be because the team’s second-year signal-caller did the same.
Yahoo! Sports: On April 23, Joe Judge said the first-round pick of Andrew Thomas could “help Daniel,” referring to quarterback Daniel Jones. That was the first time Judge had spoken the name of any Giants player since he got the head-coaching job, which is ridiculous. The only way this approach works is if you win. Ask Matt Patricia.
Arrowhead Pride: Can Daniel Jones take a step forward? That’s the only question that matters.
NFL.com: “We want to fix this offensive line once and for all,” GM Dave Gettleman said on Thursday night, after the Giants used the fourth overall pick on Georgia All-American left tackle Andrew Thomas. The Giants weren’t done addressing the position, either: They tabbed UConn tackle Matt Peart with the 99th overall pick on Friday night. This is all great news for second-year quarterback Daniel Jones and star running back Saquon Barkley, who both stand to benefit greatly from improved performance up front. Safety Xavier McKinney might have been a Day 2 steal; he joins a defense that used free agency to add cornerback James Bradberry and middle linebacker Blake Martinez. This isn’t a Super Bowl roster, but it does look better than last year’s. We’ll find out if the Giants win enough in 2020 to allow Gettleman to see this rebuild through.
Sports Illustrated: Goodbye, Eli. Hello, Joe Judge and the newest branch of the Bill Belichick coaching tree.
ESPN: Player who benefited: QB Daniel Jones. The Giants committed to protecting Jones well into the future. And not just with tackle Andrew Thomas at No. 4 overall. They drafted three offensive linemen in the first five rounds for the first time in the modern draft era. Thomas, tackle Matt Peart and guard/center Shane Lemieux are now part of the draft class that will forever be known as GM Dave Gettleman’s last stab at fixing this offensive line “once and for all.” The idea is for an improved line to protect Jones and Saquon Barkley. Hard to argue with the logic.
Battle Red Blog: New York (G) had the 31st ranked pass defense by DVOA and 29th by yards per attempt. But dammit they could stop the run and run the football. These things don’t matter much anymore. It’s a passing league. The Giants added James Bradberry and Xavier McKinney to help out with that. The curtain is still chewed with holes. DeAndre Baker was one of the worst corners in the league his rookie season and was recently arrested. Who knows what’s going to happen there. Their best pass rusher Markus Golden is going to sign somewhere else this summer, and the kids are interesting, but none of them produced much in 2019. Next season is looking similar to last season. New York runs the ball well, stops the run, but is one of the worst teams in the league because of their passing game faults.
CBS Sports: They did a nice job adding to the offensive line in the draft, which is a smart long-term play. But they are a year away before they can compete for a playoff spot.
The Athletic: In a move that should have surprised no one, the Giants took an offensive tackle, Andrew Thomas, with their first-round pick. It’s a classic Dave Gettleman move, but one the Giants needed to make as they build around Daniel Jones. What does it mean for Nate Solder? Well, that’s a question for another day. (One other question that’s been bothering us since the draft: Why couldn’t Joe Judge have brought his dog Abby with him to his apartment for the draft?)
USA Today: Culture shock is surely coming under new coach Joe Judge, though at least players should have some idea of what’s coming from New England.
Washington is a strong contender to be one of the NFL’s worst teams again in 2020. Hiring Ron Rivera could bring some level of stability to this dumpster fire organization but the quarterback situation is ultimately shaky. Dwayne Haskins showed more downside than promise as a rookie.
NBCSP — 25th
USA Today — 28th
B/R — 30th
Arrowhead Pride — 31st
NFL.com — 31st
Sports Illustrated — 31st
ESPN — 31st
The Athletic — 31st
Yahoo! Sports — 31st
Sporting News — 31st
CBS Sports — 32nd
Battle Red Blog — 32nd
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NBCSP: Chase Young was the prize of the draft, but the best thing Washington did this offseason was a regime change. Not sure the roster is there yet, but this team is on the right track and will be competitive again.
USA Today: Ron Rivera just might have this franchise heading in a positive direction. Chase Young should help defense get 50 sacks.
B/R: The Washington Redskins were the worst team in the NFC last year. But in at least one respect in 2020, they could be as good as any team in the conference. The addition of No. 2 overall pick Chase Young gives Washington five first-round picks along the defensive line, and Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports thinks head coach Ron Rivera’s new four-man front could challenge the San Francisco 49ers for the best such position group in the game. “With the obvious talent the Redskins possess on the defensive line and the fact that several players will be playing their true positions in a more comfortable scheme, it’s clear the Redskins should have the best defensive front in the NFL,” he wrote. Of course, just having a smothering defensive line isn’t going to get the Redskins into contention. Young quarterback Dwayne Haskins had an up-and-down first season, and the skill-position talent around him isn’t especially imposing. Washington should be better than last year’s three-win team, but the Redskins are a long way away from challenging the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.
Arrowhead Pride: If Alex Smith had stayed healthy, I think we might have to declare the Redskins the winners of the Fuller-Smith trade. Chase Young is going to be a monster.
NFL.com: Chase Young has *superduperstar* potential, and his selection at No. 2 overall gives Washington one of the best defensive lines in football. For a rebuilding team, that’s a great starting point. On the flip side, the Trent Williams standoff came to a merciful conclusion when the disgruntled left tackle was traded to the 49ers for a fifth-rounder and a 2021 third-rounder. Williams was on a Hall of Fame trajectory before his ugly falling out with the team — Redskins fans can only hope the organization learned from the fiasco. After Young, Washington used its next four picks on skill players and offensive linemen. This should help Dwayne Haskins, who will get another shot to prove himself. Does he have the goods? We’ll find out.
Sports Illustrated: Washington reportedly considered a QB with the second pick, but just because they chose Chase Young doesn’t mean Ron Rivera is tied to Dwayne Haskins long-term.
ESPN: Player who benefited: DE Montez Sweat. The Redskins, and Sweat, believed the switch to a 4-3 defense was going to be a big boost for him. But the arrival of end Chase Young will provide significant help as well. Teams will slide the protection more often than not in Young’s direction, freeing up the opposite side for more one-on-ones. Both Sweat and Young also have the ability to factor on inside rushes too, because of their power and length. Sweat finished with seven sacks as a rookie, but Young’s addition will increase his ability to make a bigger impact in his second season.
The Athletic: Washington bookended its draft with a pair of edge rushers: Chase Young, the consensus best defensive player in the class, at No. 2 and seventh-rounder James Smith-Williams. You probably know plenty about Young by now, so we’re going to recommend taking a moment to get to know Smith-Williams through this story by The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker about his work as the NFL’s first “Set the Expectation” ambassador.
Yahoo! Sports: It would be great if Chase Young took off as a player because Washington needs something to hang its hat on as a franchise. The possibility of Washington being the worst team in the league again is on the table, and wouldn’t it be something to pair Young and Trevor Lawrence?
Sporting News: The Redskins have a cloud over quarterback with Kyle Allen in the mix with Dwayne Haskins. They are still limited at the offensive skill positions and remain weak on the line. They can get a big defensive boost from Chase Young, but have issues there at linebacker and the secondary as they transition into a base 4-3 with Rivera and Jack Del Rio. With the Cowboys and Eagles still strong and the Giants much improved, last place is calling in the NFC East.
CBS Sports: This season, despite what they’ve done in the offseason, will be all about Dwayne Haskins. Does he take the next step? At least the defensive front will be nasty.
Battle Red Blog: Everything finally fell apart for Jay Gruden last season with Case Keenum after consistent seasons mired in mediocrity with Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins at quarterback. Gruden gone. Dwayne Haskins taking over. Ron Rivera in. The second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The rewards for all of this. They added Chase Young, an all-time draft prospect in the mold of Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett, to a front composed of the first round Alabama interior of Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne, 2019 first round pick Montez Sweat, consistent pass rushing producer Ryan Kerrigan, and Matthew Ionadis, who proved 2018 wasn’t a fluke. Last season they combined for 29 sacks and 61 quarterback hits. It’s a murderous group. Even before the addition of Young, this group was worth watching regardless of the win-loss record, and now, it’s even more so.