Power Rankings: Top 10 Players on the Philadelphia Eagles Roster
Talent alone doesn't win football games. The Eagles learned that the hard way in 2011, but the coaches appear to have their talent in a better position to succeed this season.
The Eagles have Pro Bowlers everywhere—Nnamdi Asomugha, DeSean Jackson and Trent Cole, just to name a few.
They also have several young players who haven't come close to reaching their potential yet. Players like Brandon Graham and Nate Allen, along with a very talented 2012 draft class, could have huge breakout seasons.
The NFL Network has compiled a list of the Top 100 players in the NFL, which was voted on by players over the past two years. It has been a very successful show in the offseason because we, as NFL fans, are always in need of football.
Seeing where players, coaches or writers rank players in that big of a sample size is fascinating.
I'm not going to attempt to rank the Top 100 players out of over 1800 players in the NFL. That type of sample size will take a lot of film study from all 32 teams.
Instead, I will attempt to rank the top 10 players on the Eagles roster.
I based my rankings on how the players played in 2011 and how they have looked going into 2012.
I left Jason Peters off because he won't be playing this season. Technically, he won't be on the roster this season. He will be on the injured reserve list.
Here are the top 10 players on the Eagles Roster.
No. 10: Brent Celek
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Brent Celek might be the most underrated tight end in the entire league.
He blocks as well as he receives, and he never complains about being used primarily in pass protection when the offense line struggles. He is the ideal tight end for a West Coast offense.
He doesn't possess the athletic ability that Vernon Davis or Antonio Gates has, but he is still one of the most complete tight ends in football.
Celek got off to a slow start in 2011. He was kept in pass protection early on in the season while the offensive line was still adjusting to Howard Mudd's blocking scheme.
Celek was held to under 50 yards in the first six games of the season. He had at least 50 receiving yards in eight of the final 10 games of the season.
He finished the season with 62 receptions for 811 yards and five touchdowns. He started to get into a grove in the second half of the season—he had 516 yards over the final eight games.
He also battled through shoulder and a sports hernia injuries during the course of the 2011 season. He had surgery on both areas this offseason and should be 100 percent heading into training camp.
It will be interesting to see what he can do when he is 100 percent healthy and doesn't have to stay in for pass protection that often.
Celek could be in store for his best season heading into his sixth year in the league. He has never gone over 1,000 yards for a season, but I expect him to seriously push that milestone in 2012.
No. 9: Jason Babin
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Jason Babin is a one trick pony.
He rushes the passer better than just about everyone in the NFL with a few exceptions. He has eight more sacks in his past two seasons than Mario Williams has had in his last three seasons.
Babin racked up 18 sacks in 2011 and had 12.5 in 2010. He has been a sack machine in the wide-nine defensive line scheme.
That's where his strength lies.
He is an elite pass rusher in the wide-nine scheme. In his previous six seasons, he had a combined 17.5 sacks with a season high of five in 2006 in that span.
Babin, being strictly a really good pass rusher in the wide-nine and nothing more, doesn't make him a bad player. It makes him a great player.
In a pass-happy league, the pass rush is vital to a defenses' success. Few have done it better than Babin has in the past two seasons.
If he was a more complete player he might be ranked higher on this list, though it probably says more about the talent on the Eagles roster than it does about Babin.
No. 8: Jeremy Maclin
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Jeremy Maclin had a pretty solid season for a guy who had a very serious cancer scare shortly before it started.
Maclin was suffering from fatigue and loss of appetite last summer before doctors eventually ruled out lymphoma. He was down to 180 pounds at one point because of his illness. His ideal playing weight has been around 195 pounds.
Macllin still managed to rack up 63 catches for 859 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games.
Even though Maclin had a pretty solid season, most people remember him for two critical mistakes he made. He dropped a critical fourth down pass late in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2 and fumbled the ball away while the Eagles were driving deep in 49'ers territory in a Week 4 loss to San Francisco.
Despite his mistakes, Maclin is an outstanding wide receiver.
He has great speed, good hands and is one of the better run blocking wide receivers in the NFL. He has 189 receptions for 2,596 yards and 19 touchdowns in his first three seasons in the league.
He hasn't even scratched the surface on just how good he can be in the Eagles offense.
No. 7: Michael Vick
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If this was a list of the 10 most exciting players in the NFL, Michael Vick would be miles ahead of the competition.
But, this is the list of the 10 best players on the Eagles roster right now. Vick is good player but there are still a lot of holes to his game.
Vick threw for 3,303 passing yards and ran for 589 more yards. He racked up 19 total touchdowns in 13 games.
He also had 18 total turnovers and completed just 52.5 percent of his passes inside the 20-yard line. Turnovers and red zone play have been major issues for Vick since becoming the Eagles starting quarterback.
Durability has also been a concern for Vick. He missed three games in 2011 and was knocked out of two other games. He also should have been taken out of another game, a Week 10 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, where he broke two ribs.
If Vick improves his play in the red zone, limits his mistakes and can manage to protect himself for a full season, he will see his name get bumped up on all player rankings lists.
He is one stellar season away from being considered an elite quarterback.
No. 6: DeSean Jackson
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As far as speed, quickness and change of direction, there is none better than DeSean Jackson.
Do you see any other receivers forcing safeties to play 15 yards off the line of scrimmages?
I didn't think so.
Jackson is the most dangerous receiver in football, but he isn't the best. There is a major difference.
Receivers like Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are complete receivers who do everything exceptionally well, but they lack the speed and quickness Jackson possesses.
Jackson is the most difficult player in the NFL to cover one-on-one. Safeties play 15 yards off him because his speed.
That's what makes him such a great player: his speed changes the way defenses line up.
That's rare in any era.
The reason he isn't higher on this list is his lack of clutch catches in the red zone and on third downs. He had just two receptions in the red zone last season for a total of 14 yards and had one touchdown. He also had just 12 of his 58 receptions on third downs—and zero on fourth downs.
He has to get better in clutch situations. The Eagles and Jackson's struggles on third downs and red zone situations are not a coincidence.
No. 5: Nnamdi Asomugha
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Nnamdi Asomugha is a somewhat similar player to Jason Babin. He is a one trick pony like Babin and is truly elite at what he does.
Asomugha is an elite press cover corner. His ability to press receivers at the line of scrimmage is second to none.
Asomugha's ability to read receivers' routes and use his long arms to play physical with receivers all over the field make him an exceptional press cover corner.
Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo tried to use Nnamdi Asomugha similarly to how the Green Bay Packers use Charles Woodson. They move Woodson all over the defense and line him up almost like a safety or linebacker combo player.
That isn't Asomugha's game, and that's why he struggled so much in 2011.
Asomugha isn't a great blitzer and he is just okay in run support. He is the type of player that has to be used in a specific way.
When used in a press man coverage scheme, he is an elite cornerback. That is what makes him a top five player on the Eagles roster. He isn't higher on this list because he isn't a versatile or complete cornerback.
No. 4: Todd Herremans
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Jason Peters was the best player on the Eagles offensive line last season, but Todd Herremans was the player who helped make the line truly great.
He made the switch from left guard to right tackle very late in training camp last season. He also filled in at left tackle in Week 17.
Herremans seamless transition from guard to tackle helped the offensive line become complete. Had he not been able to move to right tackle, the Eagles could have been forced to insert King Dunlap at right tackle and keep Evan Mathis on the bench.
Herremans is one of the most underrated players in football. He has been an outstanding guard and tackle throughout his career.
He was strong enough to take on 300-pound plus defensive tackles as a guard and athletic enough to handle edge rushers as a offensive tackle.
With Jason Peters suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon, Herremans has become more valuable to the line.
If Demetress Bell struggles at left tackle, Herremans could make the move to the left side so King Dunlap can play his more natural right tackle.
Herremans can also move to guard if either Evan Mathis or Danny Watkins go down and the coaches aren't comfortable with the reserve guards for an extended period of time.
It's Herremans versatility, athleticism and strength that make him such a valuable offensive lineman.
No. 3: Evan Mathis
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Evan Mathis had an incredible breakout season in 2011. He went from being a decent reserve guard to becoming the best offensive guard in the league.
According to profootballfocus.com, Evan Mathis was ranked as the 10th best player on offense last season. He was the No. 1 ranked guard in all of football.
When you watch Mathis on tape, it's not hard to see why he was ranked so high. He gets the most push of all the Eagles' interior linemen.
In the second half of the season, when the Eagles went 5-3, Michael Vick ran his quarterback sneaks behind Mathis.
Mathis is a very versatile lineman—similar to Herremans, who can play both guard and tackle. His athleticism makes him an ideal fit for Howard Mudd's blocking scheme, and his strength and intensity make him an excellent run blocker.
Mathis was ranked as the No. 1 interior lineman in 2011, and it was just his first season in Howard Mudd's unique blocking scheme. It's exciting to think what he can become in year two.
No. 2: Trent Cole
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Trent Cole has become the Eagles' most consistent pass rusher over the past five seasons. He has averaged 11 sacks per season.
He has 68 career sacks with the Eagles in seven seasons, which ranks him third all-time and just eight behind Clyde Simmons.
Despite his excellent sacks total, it doesn't even come close to telling his whole story.
He might actually be better in run support than he is as a pass rusher. He finished the 2011 season with 41 solo tackles, which ranked him fourth on the team behind two safeties—Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen—and middle linebacker Jamar Chaney.
Cole, like Evan Mathis, was in his first year in a different line scheme. Defensive line coach Jim Washburn brought his wide-nine scheme to Philadelphia last summer.
Cole is quick,powerful and relentless. He is exactly the type of player that Washburn has turned into defensive starters like Jason Babin, Albert Haynesworth and Jevon Kearse. Those players were all great under Washburn but struggled in other schemes in their careers.
It will be interesting to see what a player like Trent Cole, who is already a defensive star, will become under Washburn.
No. 1: LeSean McCoy
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The No. 1 ranked Philadelphia Eagles is LeSean McCoy.
McCoy racked up 20 touchdowns in 2011 and had over 1,600 total yards. He had just one lost fumble.
He finished fourth in the NFL in rushing with 1,309 yards, but was just 55 yards behind second place. He missed the final game of the season due to injury.
Otherwise, he most likely would have finished second.
McCoy really is the complete package at running back. He is a dangerous runner in the open field and a solid short yardage back.
He recorded a first down or touchdown on 18 of his 25 third down carries in 2011 and recorded a first down on three of his four fourth down carries.
He was successful in giving the Eagles a first down every time he ran the ball on a third or fourth down 72 percent of the time.
When you compare that to Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's leading rusher, and his third and fourth down conversion percentage of just 54 percent, McCoy is a solid short yardage back.
He is also an outstanding receiver and a very underrated pass blocker. The only thing McCoy doesn't do exceptionally well is run defenders over.
It's not his game. He isn't a power back, he is a shifty back with incredibly quick feet that never stop moving.
His breakout 2011 season made him one of the elite running backs in the NFL and the best player on the Eagles roster going into 2012.