Ranking Eagles’ positional strengths leading into 2022 training camp originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Expectations are high for the Eagles in 2022 and, at least on paper, they have a strong roster.
It was not easy to rank their position groups, but here’s what I came up with, from strongest to weakest:
1. Offensive tackle:
The Eagles have one of the best starting tackle combinations in the NFL with Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata, who are both Pro Bowl caliber players. Both were Pro Bowl snubs last year but they played at that level. When he’s healthy, there’s not a better right tackle in the NFL than Johnson. And Mailata is already a very good left tackle and will presumably keep getting better. And after those two guys, the Eagles have solid backups in Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll and Le’Raven Clark.
2. Defensive tackle:
Even if we recognize that Fletcher Cox is not the same dominant player he once was, we have to realize he’s still pretty good. And he’s part of a rotation with Pro Bowler Javon Hargrave, as well as first-round pick Jordan Davis and last year’s third-round pick Milton Williams. That’s a very good and deep four-man rotation that will keep these guys fresh throughout the season.
The Eagles’ cornerback duo of Darius Slay and James Bradberry has the potential to be one of the best in franchise history. While it might only last for one year, it should be fun to watch. And then you can toss in Avonte Maddox, who proved himself to be one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the league last year. You can question their depth but the Eagles have a bunch of young cornerbacks like Zech McPherson, Tay Gowan, Kary Vincent, Josiah Scott and Jimmy Moreland. All of those guys have potential.
The Eagles entered last year with Jalen Reagor as their No. 2 receiver. They enter this season with Reagor as the No. 5. That goes to show how much better this unit should be in 2022. They have AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal and Reagor, who round out the top five. And if they want to keep six, they have some intriguing options with guys like John Hightower, Devon Allen and Britain Covey.
5. Interior offensive line:
Jason Kelce is 34 now but he’s coming off yet another All-Pro season and will likely remain very good in 2022. On his left, you have Landon Dickerson, who started to play increasingly well as his rookie season went on. He’ll hopefully man that left guard position for the next decade. And then at right guard, the Eagles are giving Isaac Seumalo the first crack at the position. Seumalo has struggled to stay healthy but was once a solid left guard who is making the switch. And they have depth inside too with Cam Jurgens, Driscoll, Sua Opeta, Kayode Awosika and more.
6. Off-ball linebacker:
The fact that this isn’t all the way at the bottom of this page says a lot about how far the Eagles have come. But having a linebacker room with Kyzir White, TJ Edwards, Nakobe Dean, Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley is pretty impressive. Ton of potential there and a baseline that’s much higher than it’s been in many years at the position.
7. Tight end:
The Eagles have a top-5 tight end in Dallas Goedert, who comes into this season as the unquestioned No. 1. Early last season, he had to split those snaps with Zach Ertz. Overall, the Eagles’ tight end room was better this time last year because of Ertz but now Goedert will be able to really unlock all of his potential. And they added sixth-round pick Grant Calcaterra to a room that already included Jack Stoll. The depth is not great but it’s hard to overlook the stud at the top.
We’re putting all the “overhang” guys together here in a group that includes Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. The Eagles addressed their edge deficiency by adding Reddick but did not improve at the defensive end position, instead electing to bring back Barnett on a two-year deal. I thought edge rusher was a possible early-round draft pick but the Eagles waited until the sixth round to take Kyron Johnson out of Kansas.
This is the toughest one to place because it really depends on what you think of Jalen Hurts. To me, Hurts is a borderline top-15 quarterback, which really puts him in the average quarterback in the NFL. Can he get better? Absolutely. We just need to see it. And having a good backup like Gardner Minshew does help this ranking.
10. Running back:
Miles Sanders is a good running back when healthy but he’s missed nine regular season games over the last two years. Last season, Sanders played in 12 games but had a career-high average of 5.5 rushing yards per attempt. After him, the Eagles have solid rotational guys like Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell, who figures to have an expanded role in Year 2. They are, however, missing a big bruising back like they had last season with Jordan Howard.
Jake Elliott is coming off a career year and Rick Lovato is solid as a long snapper. But punter Arryn Siposs really struggled last year as a punter and the Eagles haven’t brought in any competition for him. And if we extend this to the return men, Reagor didn’t do much as a punt returner last year and the Eagles might not have a better option. Could a guy like Covey or Allen make the team as a return specialist? Maybe. But that’s far from a sure thing.
The Eagles let Rodney McLeod walk and despite interest in some top free agent safeties, the Eagles right now have a starting duo of Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps. The Eagles showed that they wanted to improve the position and they got worse. Especially when you consider the lack of depth, which includes K’Von Wallace, Andre Chachere, Jared Mayden and Reed Blankenship.
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