Around this time every year, Pro Football Focus ranks all 32 NFL rosters from best to worst. The Philadelphia Eagles finished fourth ahead of the 2019 NFL season. This year, PFF ranks the Eagles ninth overall. Here’s their explanation, via ESPN+:
Biggest strength: The Eagles are one of the strongest teams in the NFL in the trenches. As a team, they finished the season with PFF’s highest-graded offensive line, and their defensive line ranked fourth behind only the Steelers, 49ers and Rams. The defensive line is a group that should continue to improve with the additions of Javon Hargrave and a healthy Malik Jackson.
Biggest weakness: Linebacker is still a question mark for Philadelphia. Nathan Gerry figures to be atop the depth chart after more than 600 snaps of average play in 2019, but there’s much less clarity behind him. Can T.J. Edwards break out after earning an 83.4 overall grade on just over 100 snaps last season? Will Jatavis Brown win a starting job after shaky play led to his role getting significantly reduced in 2019 with the Chargers? Rookie Davion Taylor will have a chance at playing time early, too. It’s a group that still doesn’t have much definition on what should be an improved defense overall.
X factor for 2020: Darius Slay’s PFF grade in 2019 doesn’t represent the kind of player that he has been throughout his career. The first thing to note is that he played a difficult role in Detroit, consistently shadowing the opposing team’s best receiver in man coverage. Despite that, Slay came in as the fourth-most valuable cornerback in the NFL in 2014-18 per PFF WAR (wins above replacement), and his 74 forced incompletions over that stretch were the most in the NFL. Expect him to bounce back and give a big boost to that secondary.
- The eight teams that rank ahead of the Eagles, in order: Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans. It’s hard to argue with the top four but you can make the case for the Eagles ahead of the remaining four. I do think the Dallas is fairly ranked ahead of the Eagles given their offensive firepower. Ninth overall lines up with the feeling that the Eagles are a good team — certainly playoff caliber — but not a great one.
- PFF clearly believes the NFC East is shaping up to be a two team race once again. The Cowboys (6th) and the Eagles (9th) are towards the top while the Giants (27th) and Washington (31st) rank among the league’s least talented rosters.
- The Eagles are set to play six games against teams ranked in the top 10. They will also play six games against teams ranked in the bottom 10.
- The Eagles are definitely designed to be strong in the trenches. But just how good is their offensive line really going to be in 2020? Having PFF’s top graded offensive line in 2019 was in part due to Jason Peters grading out as the NFL’s sixth best tackle. Going from Peters to Andre Dillard, who clearly struggled as a rookie, could represent a sizeable drop off. Of course, it’s possible (maybe even probable?) that the Eagles will re-sign JP. But then there’s the fact that PFF’s top ranked guard in Brandon Brooks will be out for the year. The Eagles’ offensive line might not be their biggest strength in 2020.
- The defensive line had better be good with the Eagles paying three top tier interior defensive line contacts to Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Malik Jackson. There’s ample reason to believe they can be a disruptive trio. It’ll be interesting to see how the rotation works out and if they can live up to expectation.
- We previously wrote about the Eagles’ linebacker concerns at length back in May. The team might have enough there to merely “get by” but it’s definitely an unproven and thin group.
- Slay is an appropriate choice for X-factor. PFF is bullish on him bouncing back and so are the Eagles. It’s quite possible he’ll end up being a great acquisition by Howie Roseman. Then again, he’s had some nagging injury issues in recent years and he turns 30 before the end of the regular season. If he falls off, the Eagles’ secondary could end up being shreddable as ever. The hope is that he can rebound and live up to his “Big Play Slay” nickname. Philly need more picks; they ranked tied for the 24th most interceptions in 2019 and 25th in 2018.
- Here’s how PFF grades the entire projected starting lineup:
PFF says the Eagles have the NFL’s ninth best roster. Too low, too high, or just right?
This poll is closed