Ranking the 15 Best Players on the Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles: Ranking the Bird's 15 Best Players
It is more of a task after this season than any other over the past decade to rank the 15 best players currently playing for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles’ horrid 4-12 campaign this past season was peppered with key injuries, underachieving veterans and highly questionable coaching decisions.
Former Eagles head coach Andy Reid was axed on a very busy ‘Black Monday’ in 2012 after putting together two consecutive awful seasons (8-8, 4-12). Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie made it clear to Reid that another .500 year would be unacceptable in 2012, so his termination was inevitable after a four-win clunker.
But now with Chip Kelly manning the Eagles’ heading coaching spot after a headline-hogging acquisition, the new front-man must evaluate his current athletes.
Therefore, I took it upon myself to rank the Eagles’ 15 best overall players.
From offense, to defense, to returnmen, the Eagles house a bevy of incredible talent that is just waiting to be exploited under the right direction.
We all know that Kelly’s high-octane spread offense runs almost primarily off of three things. Speed, speed, and more speed. Luckily for Kelly, this Eagles’ offense is one of the fastest and most elusive units in the entire NFL at nearly every skilled position.
I will warn you now that there were some snubs that may leave Eagles’ fans relatively disgruntled. Most notably, QB Nick Foles and TE Brent Celek did not make my cut, because I believe that both players are incredibly replaceable with not much effort.
So, check out which Eagles I have ranked, 15 to 1, as the best players in the organization, and see if you think I am a genius, or a nutcase.
Please follow Joe on Twitter @Joe_RantNFL for all Eagles/NFL insight.
15. QB Michael Vick
After another season chock-full of turnovers and disappointment, the Eagles are expected to cut ties with Vick following the conclusion of this year's Super Bowl XLVII.
If it wasn't for his inevitable release, Vick would be much higher on my list, but I feel funny even really considering him a member of the Birds at this point. But because Vick was able to show that he still harnesses some mobility and fire-power, I couldn't completely snub him.
Look for Vick to bounce back in a big way next season with a new NFL suitor.
14. CB Brandon Boykin
Boykin certainly did not 'wow' fans in 2012, his first NFL season, but the rookie did show that he has the speed, awareness and tools necessary to develop into a legit professional cornerback.
Another attractive attribute (alliteration acknowledged) of Boykin is that he is incredibly dangerous in the return game, and whenever he gets the ball in his hands for that matter.
While Boykin failed to break off a return any longer than 44 yards this season, he still has sky-high potential as both a returnman and a cover-corner.
13. RT Todd Herremans
In his eighth year with the Eagles this past season, Herremans put together a very forgettable campaign before he was lost for the season following a Week 9 ankle injury.
Typically, Herremans would rank much higher on this list due to his past success, but considering the struggles he showed in pass-protection and run blocking in 2012, it is possible that his days are numbered.
Herremans will surely remain the Eagles' starting right tackle in 2013, but it will be interesting to see if he regresses any further once his fellow injured o-linemen are back by his side.
12. LB Mychal Kendricks
In just his first NFL season in 2012, Kendricks racked up 75 total tackles, ranking him 3rd on the Eagles' defense.
Kendricks asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with early in his rookie year, as he was able to yank down ball-carriers from every angle while also showing supreme athleticism.
I expect Kendricks to be a key part of this Eagles' linebacking core for many years to come, as a complement to former All-Pro LB DeMeco Ryans.
11. DE Brandon Graham
Following the mid-season release of DE Jason Babin, former Eagles head coach Andy Reid said that the move was made so that the unit's younger players could get a chance to compete.
Well, Graham decided to take full advantage of this opportunity, as he tallied four sacks and a forced fumble in the Eagles' final five contests.
I can guarantee you that the former first-round pick is just getting started, and is in the process of budding into an elite NFL defender.
10. K Alex Henery
I can't help but give 'the kicker' some love when it comes to Henery, the Eagles' prized, second-year booter, because of the incredible composure and ability he shows at such a young age.
In 2012, Henery connected on 27 of his 31 field goal attempts (87%), proving to the Eagles' organization that they made no mistake in releasing long-time K David Akers prior to the 2011 season.
9. RB Bryce Brown
There is no doubt that Brown is one of the biggest mysteries on all of the Eagles' roster.
After showing unspeakable talent in his first two NFL starts, running wild for a combined 347 yards and four touchdowns, Brown made a crash-landing as he totaled just 40 rushing yards and zero touchdowns in his next two games.
Brown's talent is undeniable, but he must show a much greater level of consistency if he wishes to prove himself as a legitimate feature-back in the NFL.
8. C Jason Kelce
After the Eagles lost Kelce in Week 2 of the 2012 season to a torn ACL, his relevance and importance in the middle of the squad's o-line became incredibly apparent.
While the off-season loss of LT Jason Peters was certainly devastating to the Eagles, the absence of Kelce effectively unraveled the Eagles' entire protection scheme.
Kelce is truly the anchor of this Eagles' o-line, and his recovery before the 2013 campaign will be paramount to the Bird's success.
7. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
When the Eagles shipped QB Kevin Kolb to the Arizona Cardinals before the 2011 season, Rodgers-Cromartie came to town as a highly-prized, brilliant acquisition.
While Rodgers-Cromartie has shown flashes of greatness over the past two seasons, he has still not totally lived up to his unlimited potential. There is no doubt that Rodgers-Cromartie has displayed incredible coverage skills, as well as ball-possession abilities when getting his paws on a turnover.
The absurdly talented duo of Rodgers-Cromartie and Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha could easily become the best coverage-couple in the entire NFL.
6. WR Jeremy Maclin
Maclin has certainly been a disappointment in the NFL to this point, as the the 4th year wide-out has yet to put together a single 1000-yard campaign.
After he was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Maclin was expected to explode on the NFL scene immediately, after a dream-worthy career at the University of Missouri.
Nonetheless, Maclin has landed at number six on my list of the Eagles' best players because of his unquestionable potential. If Maclin is able to stay healthy, he has the pass-catching abilities and ball-possession skills to run with the league's best wide receivers.
5. LB DeMeco Ryans
Even though Ryans has not been able to show the All-Pro level of talent that he featured in his first two professional seasons with the Houston Texans, he has still remained a tackling machine.
When the Eagles acquired Ryans via trade this past off-season, they were looking for an elite linebacker who could plant himself in the trenches and rack up take-downs. With 113 tackles in the 2012 season, Ryans did his job but did not shine will doing so.
Ryans will need to work hard to restore his youth if he wants to have any chance at re-emerging as the premiere linebacker he once was in 2006, when he won the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
4. CB Nnamdi Asomugha
Sadly, Asomugha is currently the poster-boy for overpaid NFL athletes, as the 10th year cornerback has displayed nothing but regression in his two years with the Eagles.
But for some reason I still believe that Asomugha has the field-vision and coverage skills to bounce back as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.
With some serious help at the strong safety position, I look for Asomugha to prove the haters wrong, and live up to his monstrously generous contract.
3. WR DeSean Jackson
In the 2012 regular season, Jackson was on pace for the best season of his career from receptions and yardage standpoints, before he was lost for the season with broken ribs early in Week 12.
While Jackson failed to show a lot of the explosion and break-away ability this season that he did in recent years, the wide-out was able to display more confidence and composure than ever. Jackson also seemed more willing to catch balls over the middle, and looked like much more of a team player in 2012.
With the right quarterback at the helm in 2013, I expect Jackson to go off for a career year, while most NFL fans have quickly written him off as a has-been.
2. LT Jason Peters
During the 2012 off-season, Peters suffered a set of catastrophic injuries when he tore his Achilles tendon not once, but two times, in preparation for his 9th NFL season.
Throughout Peter's entire career, he has been easily one of the best offensive tackles in all of professional football, as he has been invited to five Pro Bowls and selected for four All-Pro rosters.
The Eagles proved in 2012 that their o-line is in complete disarray without Peters, as they fielded arguably the league's worst offensive protection unit.
If Peters is able to return to full strength entering next season, all eyes will be on the big man to reconcile and revive this Eagles' offensive front.
1. RB LeSean McCoy
Even after a 2012 season that showed a massive drop in McCoy's production, the 4th year star still tops my list as the best player on the Eagles' current roster.
McCoy has always displayed exceptional elusiveness, as well as some of the best cuts and direction changing abilities in all of the NFL. But in 2011, McCoy more than solidified himself as an elite running back, rushing for 1,309 yards and totaling an incredible 20 total touchdowns (17 rushing).
With head coach Chip Kelly now at the helm for the Eagles, McCoy has the perfect opportunity to thrive in his fast-paced, up-tempo style of spread offense.
Not only is McCoy currently the best player on the Eagles, but he is the primary focal point and go-to-guy on one of the league's most talented offenses.
Please follow Joe on Twitter @Joe_RantNFL for all Eagles/NFL insight.