Grading the Philadelphia Eagles' Entire 53-Man Roster

Randy JobstSenior Analyst ISeptember 3, 2012

Grading the Philadelphia Eagles' Entire 53-Man Roster

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    Final roster cuts are finished and preseason is over!

    The regular season is just around the corner as we are just days away from the Philadelphia Eagles season opener against the Cleveland Browns. The Eagles are in a completely different situation then they were at this team last season.

    Last year the Eagles were attempting to install completely different defensive line and offensive blocking schemes. They also promoted offensive line coach Juan Castillo to their defensive coordinator position and added several key impact players through free agency and trades—all in a very short offseason.

    This year the Eagles enter the regular season with a lot more stability. The coaches and schemes are all the same and the majority of the starters are back. The issues that cost the Eagles a 4-8 start last season seem to be resolved.

    DeSean Jackson got his new contract, the Eagles got a proven veteran at linebacker in DeMeco Ryans and they have added even more talent to a unit that posted 50 sacks last season.

    The Eagles are poised to get back into Super Bowl contention. Their roster is loaded on both sides of the football to go along with plenty of stability in the coaching staff. The 2012 season won't be a season of adjusting to new schemes, players and coaches. It will be a season of proving to the football world that last season was nothing but a fluke.

    The roster has plenty of talent to go around. Now that the roster is pretty much set heading into to Sunday's matchup with the Cleveland Browns, let's take a look at the entire roster and grade each player and position.


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    What a strange summer it has been for the Eagles quarterbacks. We entered training camp expecting Mike Kafka to be the backup and Nick Foles to be nothing more than a developmental project who wouldn't be expected to play until at least next season. Trent Edwards was expected to be the odd man out after a poor showing during OTAs.

    Now Kafka is gone, Foles is the backup and Edwards has done a complete 180 to make this roster.


    Michael Vick

    Vick is the Eagles' franchise quarterback but he is also incredibly injury-prone. When he was on the field for all four quarters last season, the Eagles were 7-3. When he wasn't, they were 1-5. No other quarterback can match his arm strength and playmaking ability and no other quarterbacks makes fans cringe more when they see him take a hit. If he plays all 16 games this season, he is an MVP candidate. The problem is that he is very unlikely to because he refuses to slide or throw the ball away and this hurts the team.

    Grade: B

    Nick Foles

    Nick Foles-mania his hit the city of Philadelphia. Foles has been the star of preseason for the Eagles as he completed over 63 percent of his passes and had a 110.1 quarterback rating. He isn't going to challenge for Vick's starting spot just yet, but Eagles fans can rest easy knowing that he has shown the ability to a solid backup option.

    Grade B-

    Trent Edwards

    Anyone who closely followed the Eagles during the summer would have told you that Trent Edwards had no shot of making this team; I didn't think he would make it to the first preseason game.

    You have to give the Eagles coaching staff a lot of credit. They really worked on his mechanics all summer long. Now he is back on an NFL roster with a chance to help this team out. Foles may be the better option as a backup, but Edwards isn't far behind and has plenty of experience to share with the young rookie. You also have to remember, the backup role is not a long-term commitment. Edwards could earn that role at any time.

    Grade B-

    Overall Grade B+

    The Eagles quarterbacks get a high grade because there is a lot of depth. How many teams could still have confidence in their offense if they lost two quarterbacks for the season?

Runnng Backs/Fullback

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    The Eagles have their youngest but deepest group of running backs they have ever had under Andy Reid's—and maybe the franchise's—history. The Eagles will carry four running backs this season, unless they get a great offer for one of their young backups. All four running backs have a lot of quickness, good size, steady pass protection and receiving skills as well. It will be interesting to see exactly how the Eagles utilize all four running backs.

    The Eagles also kept fullback Stanley Havili. Havili won't be in on the majority of offensive snaps, but his ability to be a versatile runner and receiver along with some decent lead blocking skills will be vital to the Eagles' success in the red zone this season.


    LeSean McCoy

    LeSean McCoy is one of the best players in the NFL. He is as complete of a running back as you will ever find. He breaks tackles and makes defenders miss in the open field. He is a versatile receiver who can beat you out of the backfield or lined up as a slot receiver. He is also one of the best running backs in pass protection and blitz pickup.

    Eagles fans should expect another huge year from McCoy.

    Grade: A+

    Dion Lewis

    Dion Lewis Lewis also has quick feet and receiving skills and is a very similar back to McCoy, just not at his level. He isn't a starting-caliber running back yet, dancing too much in the backfield instead of hitting the hole with authority. The offense doesn't have to adjust what they do when Lewis comes in. He will have to impress more in practice and during games to continue to be the number two back.

    Grade: C+

    Bryce Brown

    Brown played in just one game last season at Kansas State before dropping out and focusing all his attention on his pro career. Too bad for Kansas State because Brown is a naturally gifted back.

    He is natural in pass protection and as a receiver and a runner. Players like him don't need three or four full seasons in college. He hits the hole quickly and is a very agile player in the open field. He may be a 220-pound power back, but he runs like a 190-pound speed back. The potential he has is really off the chart.

    Grade: B-

    Chris Polk

    I didn't think Chris Polk was going to make the team. I knew it was going to take a lot to convince Andy Reid to keep four running backs. Polk did just that, especially in the final preseason game, when he ran for 64 yards. He showed great quickness and power at the same time. He continued to make plays every time he touched the football. The Eagles had no choice but to add him to their roster.

    Grade C+

    Stanley Havili

    Havili is a good fit for the Eagles offense. They aren't a power running team and don't need a pure lead blocker. What they need is a full back who can make plays with the football, while still being able to set them up as a lead blocker. Havili can do just that, it's just a matter of executing in the regular season.


    Overall Grade: A

    It's rare to have the depth and versatility at running back that the Eagles have this season. Just like with their defensive line, they can rotate their backs and keep them fresh over the course of 16 games with little drop-off.

Wide Receivers

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    The Eagles only made one change at wide receiver, but it wasn't the change they were expecting to make. The Eagles signed Mardy Gilyard to a two-year contract in the offseason and spent a sixth-round draft pick on Marvin McNutt last April. Neither player made the final roster, but undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson did. He will join DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper.


    Jeremy Maclin

    Maclin should become the Eagles go-to player at wide receiver this season. He is the most complete receiver on the Eagles roster. In 2010, he racked up 10 touchdowns but that number dropped to just five last year. Hamstring injuries and a mysterious offseason illness attributed to his decrease in production. A healthy season should result in a breakout season for the fourth-year receiver out of Missouri.

    Grade: B

    DeSean Jackson

    Jackson may not be a complete receiver like Maclin but he is just as valuable. His deep speed forces the safeties to play 15 yards off the line of scrimmage, which opens up the middle of the field for the running game and inside receivers. His numbers dipped a little bit last season but that was clearly due to a contract dispute. He is happy now and should get back being the most dangerous receiver in football.

    Grade: A-

    Jason Avant

    Avant is one of the best slot receivers in the game today. He runs crisp, sharp routes and positions his body to make the catch in traffic. He also possess great hands and is a valuable player on special teams. He isn't going to sell a lot of jerseys or help many people in fantasy football. He just does the little things that give the Eagles an extra edge on Sundays.

    Grade B-

    Riley Cooper

    We are still waiting to see more from Riley Cooper, the receiver, but we have already seen plenty of good things from Riley Cooper, the special teams ace.

    He had just one catch and three targets in the red zone in 2011. Not good for a 6'3 wide receiver who made three starts in 2011. Cooper will probably start he season inactive as he recovers from a collarbone injury he suffered in training camp. Still, he is a valuable player for what he does on special teams and what he could do if he has to step in on the outside again.

    Grade: C+

    Damaris Johnson

    In 2010, Johnson broke the career all-purpose yards record in the NCAA with another year of eligibility left. Unfortunately, his off the field issues cost him his 2011 season and kept him from being drafted in the NFL as well. Johnson is a good return man who uses that skill set as a receiver when he gets into the open field. He should be a vital part of this offense right away.

    Grade: C+

    Overall Grade: B+

    The Eagles have even more speed at receiver this season. Add that to a healthy Maclin and a financially stable Jackson and this unit should improve on their 2,938 combined receiving yards from a year ago.

Tight Ends

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    The Eagles tight ends combined for 974 yards and six touchdowns last season. They were needed quite frequently in pass protection early in the season while the offensive line settled into the new blocking scheme. As in the previous two seasons, Brent Celek and Clay Harbor are the only two tight ends on the roster this season.


    Brent Celek

    Celek has never reached the 1,000 yard mark. This was supposed to be the year until left tackle Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon last March. Now you have to think he will be kept in pass protection more often.

    Celek has the ability to be a 1,000 yard receiver but quarterback Michael Vick has plenty of options at wide receiver as well. Something that players like Vernon Davis, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates haven't always had to contend with.

    If he continues to be solid as a blocker and makes a few more catches in the red zone, it will be a great year for Celek no matter what his final stats look like.

    Grade: B

    Clay Harbor

    Harbor is one of the most underrated tight ends in football. There might not be a better overall blocker at the position; he can line up in the backfield as a fullback or in his usual tight end spot and is outstanding as a blocker in either role.

    It is his receiving numbers that have been disappointing. After just 13 receptions and one touchdown last season, he has been a much more polished receiver this summer. He has caught everything thrown his way and looks poised to make a bigger impact in the passing game.

    Grade: B-


    Overall Grade: B-

    The tight ends don't scare you in this offense but they don't need to. The playmakers in this offense are all at running back and wide receiver. The tight ends are outstanding blockers and tend to do more of the little things to help this offense win ball games than they put up fantasy points.

Offensive Line

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    The offensive line was supposed to be a strength but their All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon last March. That left a huge hole that will be filled this season by a player the Eagles weren’t planning on re-signing this offseason: King Dunlap, the only member of the offensive line who wasn’t a starter at his position last season.


    King Dunlap

    Dunlap has been a solid reserve linemen for the Eagles the last couple seasons. He has made spot starts at left and right tackle and left guard. This season he will become a full-time starter as the team’s left tackle.

    He is more than capable of handing the position all season long if he stays healthy. He isn’t a Pro Bowl player but he is stable. He doesn’t dominate his man but he more than holds his own.

    This season the Eagles will just be hoping he isn’t a liability in pass protection.

    Grade: C+

    Evan Mathis

    At the age of 29, Evan Mathis finally had his breakout year in the NFL. He went from being a journeyman who was thought of as a key backup, to becoming one of the best interior linemen in the NFL. He is physical in the running game, dominant in the screen game and one of the better pass protectors on the line as well. With Peters more than likely out for the season, Mathis will take on an even bigger role this season. One that he should have no problem stepping up to.

    Grade: A-

    Jason Kelce

    Kelce came into to last year’s training camp as a sixth-round draft pick that was just trying to earn a roster spot. Before he could settle in, he was already being worked in as the first team center. He easily beat out veteran center Jamaal Jackson and became the team’s long-term solution at the position.

    He isn’t very physical against the run but was outstanding in pass protection and is one of the best centers at blocking upfield on screens and draws. If he gets a little stronger, he should improve as a run blocker and become one of the top centers in the NFL.

    Grade: B

    Danny Watkins

    Danny Watkins took a while to settle down in the NFL. He didn’t start until Week 5 and was up and down when he became the starter. He did too much thinking and not enough reacting last season. He was trying to soak up a very complicated blocking scheme in his first ever season playing offensive guard.

    Six years ago he had never even played organized football.  Now he should be much more comfortable as the team’s starting right guard. He demonstrated that in preseason play. He started to show signs of becoming a Pro Bowler.


    Todd Herremans

    Herremans was the most valuable lineman on the Eagles roster last season. He was moved over from left guard to right tackle very late in the summer but took no time to transition into his new spot on the line. It allowed the Eagles to start Evan Mathis at left guard and not have to bring in someone else to play right tackle.

    Now Herremans is one of the top right tackles in the game and should make the Pro Bowl this season for the first time in his career.

    Grade: A-

    Demetress Bell

    The left tackle position was basically laid out for Demetress Bell this summer, but he had other plans. Bell looked okay during training camp but was horrid during preseason. He has been slow off the snap and looks unsure of who to block and which angle to block them at.

    It’s been a tough adjustment for Bell who is playing in a completely different blocking scheme than has ever played in. Some players, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans, for example, picked up on it very quickly. Bell is not one of those players.

    Maybe he will catch on later in the season and overtake Dunlap at left tackle. Maybe not. As of right now he might not even be the first left tackle off the bench if Dunlap were to miss any time this season.

    Grade: F

    Dennis Kelly

    Dennis Kelly has really impressed me since preseason started. He is a developmental player at tackle but has looked more like a solid backup option in his rookie season. He is a big, long player at 6’8", 320 pounds. He has played well at both right tackle and left tackle and was also worked in a little bit at right guard. It appears that the Eagles are trying to turn him into the valuable reserve linemen that King Dunlap was last season. That is a great sign for a player that wasn’t a lock to make this roster.

    Grade: C+

    Dallas Reynolds

    Dallas Reynolds was a surprise for many to see make this roster. His time on the practice squad has expired and he either had to make a 53-man roster or try another football league. He did an okay job as the backup center in preseason and training camp. He is what he is. He doesn’t have much of a ceiling and isn’t a great athlete but he won’t botch many snaps either and is a safe choice as a backup center.

    Grade: D+

    Nate Menkin

    He is the only member of the Eagles offensive line who wasn’t here all summer. Menkin was released from the Houston Texans during final cuts. He is a versatile offensive lineman, capable of playing right tackle and either guard spot.

    The biggest question Eagles fans will probably want to know is whether he is a Howard Mudd-type of lineman. Yes! He is a decent athlete who loves to play aggressive with a little bit of a mean streak. 

    It’s only a matter of time before the Eagles can rely on him as a backup who can fill it at three different spots at any time. He, along with Kelly, could make Demetress Bell expendable by October.

    Grade: C+

    Overall Grade: B

    This would be an “A” offensive line with Jason Peters at left tackle. That is the type of impact he makes. Still, this is a good group that has a chance to be great this season.  

Defensive Ends

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    This is by far the deepest position on the Eagles roster and is easily the deepest group of defensive ends in the NFL. Trent Cole and Jason Babin are Pro Bowl players who combined for 29 sacks last season. Behind them the Eagles can rotate in Phillip Hunt, Darryl Tapp, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. This group alone is capable of racking up more sacks than any other team in the NFL.


    Jason Babin

    Last season, Jason Babin racked up 18 sacks in his second season under defensive line coach Jim Washburn and his wide-9 technique. He has been a force in the past two seasons, recording 30.5 sacks. He uses his flexibility, strength, quickness off the snap and his array of pass-rushing moves to beat his man. I fully expect around 12 to 18 sacks once again from Babin.

    Grade: A-

    Trent Cole

    Trent Cole is one of the best all around 4-3 defensive ends in football. He is an outstanding pass-rusher who is actually better against the run. He had 11 sacks last season in 14 games. Last season was his first season in the wide-9 scheme which usually takes some time to adjust to. Cole is right in the prime of his career with no signs of slowing down.

    Grade: A

    Brandon Graham

    The Brandon Graham who was greatly slowed down coming off his ACL surgery is no longer with us. Instead, the Eagles will get back the player they traded up for in the first round of the 2010 draft. Graham has shown no signs of losing any of the speed and athleticism that made him a first-round draft pick two years ago.

    Now he is a much more polished player with the hunger and desire to prove that he is no first round bust. All he heard this offseason was what Jason Pierre-Paul, who was drafted a few picks after Graham, has done. Now it’s time for Graham to show what he can do.

    Grade: B


    Darryl Tapp

    I fully expected Darryl Tapp to be the odd man out at defensive end this summer. Then a funny thing happened: he played far too well to be cut. In the third week of preseason, he dominated Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, including beating him on a third-down play where he hit quarterback Brandon Weeden from behind and forced a fumble.

    You just can’t cut or trade away a player who is capable of dominating one of the best offensive tackles in the game. You have to give credit for what Tapp did during preseason.

    Grade: B

    Phillip Hunt

    As good as Graham and Tapp were during the preseason, they were outshined by Phillip Hunt. Hunt had 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in three preseason games. Nobody has looked quicker off the snap than Hunt has this season. He is noticeably stronger and faster in his second season removed from the CFL.

    Hunt will see a lot of time in obvious passing downs because of his rare quickness off the line. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hunt rack up at least 10 sacks this season.

    Grade: B+

    Vinny Curry

    Technically, Vinny Curry will be the odd man out for most of the season. He certainly isn’t going to be released anytime soon but he is going to struggle to see many snaps this season. More than likely the Eagles will keep the other five defensive ends active on game day and Curry inactive unless someone gets hurt.

    Curry has shown a lot of potential this summer. He has demonstrated a lot of pass-rushing ability while also being stout against the run. He lead the Eagles in total tackles during preseason with 16 and was third in sacks with two.

    Grade: B-

    Overall Grade: A+

    This group is flat out loaded. Jim Washburn will have the best set of defensive ends he has ever had as a defensive line coach. It is very likely that the Eagles could have three of their defensive ends rack up at least 10 sacks this season.

Defensive Tackles

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    The 1984 Chicago Bears set an NFL sack record that still stands today—72 sacks as a team. If the Eagles inside pass rush plays as good as it is capable of playing, then the Eagles will make a serious run at that record. We already know how good the pass-rush can be from the defensive end position, but just how good can the pass-rush be from the defensive tackle spot?


    Derek Landri

    Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon were supposed to handle the nose tackle spot on the Eagles defensive line this season. Dixon was one of the Eagles final cuts while Mike Patterson is likely not going to be cleared to resume football activities this season. In their place Derek Landri has become a star on this defense.

    His quickness and ability to penetrate have made him the perfect fit as the nose tackle in the wide-9 scheme. You saw that in the opening drive against the Cleveland Browns in the preseason when he busted through the line and stripped the ball loose from quarterback Brandon Weeden on a critical red-zone possession.

    Last season Landri made his living penetrating into the backfield as a rotational player. This season he will be even more adept at making plays in the backfield as a starting tackle.

    Grade: B+

    Cullen Jenkins

    Jenkins got off to a great start last season for the Eagles, racking up five sacks in the first five games. He wound up with just half of a sack over the next 11 games. I don't know if it was because he wore down during the season or if teams just did a better job of targeting him in obvious passing downs, but clearly his production was lacking. Jenkins is a powerful, athletic and versatile defensive tackle that should thrive in the wide-9 scheme each and every week.

    Grade: B+

    Fletcher Cox

    Fletcher Cox was born to play in the wide-9 scheme. This is why the Eagles traded up in the first round to get him. He is super-freak athlete with raw power, speed and versatility. He can line up and make plays anywhere on the line. His potential in this scheme has no limits. He is at his best when he can just attack and penetrate the backfield, exactly what will be doing on every single play. He could easily amass seven or eight sacks in his rookie season.

    Grade: B

    Cedric Thornton

    Cedric Thornton is a  great story. He was an undrafted free agent out of Southern Arkansas who earned a spot on the practice squad. This season he played his way onto the 53-man roster and should be a vital part of the defensive tackle rotation this season. He is another lineman on this roster who is really quick off the line. He uses a good spin moves to get around his man and into the backfield in a hurry. He is still a pretty raw player, so his potential at this point is pretty unknown.

    Grade: B-

    Overall Grade: A

    Last season the Eagles really only had one true inside pass-rusher. This season they have three. We could see anywhere from 10 to 25 sacks from this group alone.


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    The biggest issue with the Eagles defense from a year ago was the linebacking core. They couldn’t stop the run, cover receivers or make tackles in the open field. Changes had to be made and changes certainly were.

    The Eagles traded for veteran middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans and drafted Mychal Kendricks to take over at the strong-side linebacker spot. Their ability to quickly grasp the defense and bring some stability to the middle of the field will be crucial to the defense’s success this season.


    Akeem Jordan

    The battle for the weak-side linebacker spot was supposed to be between Jamar Chaney and Brian Rolle. Rolle struggled in pass coverage mightily while Chaney has yet to get back to 100 percent.

    Meanwhile, Akeem Jordan has been outstanding all summer long. He has been great against both the run and the pass. He isn’t going to be the next great Eagles linebacker but he won’t make many mistakes either. He is a solid tackler who has a good feel for where he needs to position himself. He is a nice safe choice for the defense.

    Grade: C+

    DeMeco Ryans

    It’s important to know that DeMeco Ryans isn’t Patrick Willis or Ray Lewis. It’s also important to realize that he has lost some speed after his 2010 Achilles injury and can't cover wide receivers or tight ends in man coverage anymore.

    What he does bring to the defense is great leadership. He makes the extra effort to make sure that everyone is on the same page each and every play. That is something the Eagles haven’t had since Brian Dawkins left.

    Ryans will also greatly improve the run defense. He uses his hands extremely well to shed blocks when he's engaged against offensive linemen. He should easily rack up over 100 tackles as he has done four times during his career already.

    Grade: B

    Mychal Kendricks

    Mychal Kendricks has looked better than any other rookie on this roster so far this season, which is really saying something with players like Nick Foles, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin coming out of last April’s draft class.

    Kendricks has been flying all over the field and looks dominant against the run. He has the speed to outrun most skill position players he goes up against. His tackling and play recognition skills have been really impressive all throughout summer. He has been reading and reacting to screens and wrapping up everyone that he gets his hands on. I would put him high on the list for favorites to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He has been that good very early.

    Grade: A-

    Brian Rolle

    Rolle hasn’t shown the progression in his second season that most thought he would. He still plays very fast and very aggressive but he hasn’t improved in the mental areas of the game. He just can’t read what is going to happen next. He guesses far too often and gets burned on simple routes. He might still win his weak-side linebacker spot back at some point this season, but for right now he is just a solid backup.

    Grade: C

    Jamar Chaney

    It’s hard to judge what kind of player Jamar Chaney is right now with what little we have seen from him this summer. Chaney has been slowly recovering from offseason neck surgery.

    Last season he started at both middle- and strong-side linebacker. This season he was worked in as the weak-side and a nickel linebacker. His versatility will be a valuable commodity the Eagles will be lucky to have this season. He can fill in at any linebacker spot coming off the bench.

    Grade: C

    Casey Matthews

    Last season was a disaster for Casey Matthews. He came in after a very short offseason program and was overwhelmed as the team’s starting middle linebacker. This season he beefed up to 250 pounds to better prepare himself to handle the middle linebacker spot, should he need to make a spot start. With Chaney having more experience at the position, Matthews should be able to spend the 2012 season learning another a solid veteran like DeMeco Ryans.

    Grade: D+

    Overall Grade: B

    This unit can be a real strength of this defense. Kendricks is a super athlete on the outside and Ryans should solidify the run defense. There is also good depth behind the starters in Chaney and Rolle.


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    The cornerbacks were supposed to be the strength of the defense last season, but we quickly learned that you can’t have Asante Samuel and two outside press corners in the same secondary.

    If you are going to press, then you need corners that can jam the receivers right at the line. If you want corners that can play off the receiver and jump routes, you need corners like Samuel. This season, all five of the Eagles corners can press. That means the Eagles will be pressing wide receivers right at the line of scrimmage.


    Nnamdi Asomugha

    Nnamdi has to be the happiest defensive back on this roster. He won’t have to play in as much zone coverage this season. Last year, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo tried to make him into a Charles Woodson-type of defensive back. He isn’t Woodson, he is Nnamdi. He needs to be a press corner in order to get to the level that he is accustomed to playing at.

    Grade: B+

    Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

    Rodgers-Cromartie is back on the outside where he belongs. Like Nnamdi, he is at his best in a press man coverage. He isn’t as strong as Nnamdi is but he makes up for it with his speed. Even if he lets his receiver get a step or two on him, he has the recovery speed to make up for it very quickly. When the ball is in the air, there isn’t a faster cornerback than Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

    Grade: B+

    Brandon Boykin

    The pressure will be on Boykin early this season. The Eagles elected to cut long-time slot corner Joselio Hanson so they could immediately plug Boykin into that role. Playing in the slot corner spot as a rookie is no easy feat. He will get thrown a lot of different looks by three and four wide receiver sets this season. His role will play a big part in the success of the defense this season. What good is it to have two stud outside corners if nobody can cover the slot receiver?

    Grade: B-

    Curtis Marsh

    Curtis Marsh will play a bigger role this season, especially when the Eagles move Nnamdi on the inside and replace him with Marsh on the outside. The Eagles want Nnamdi to cover the best receiver on key third-down plays. Sometimes that is the slot receiver, sometimes the tight end and sometimes the outside receiver. Marsh is what will make that work this season. If he can’t cover the outside receiver, Nnamdi can’t move to the inside.

    Grade: C+

    Brandon Hughes

    Hughes is a good backup corner to have. He plays very well on special teams and can fill in on the outside or as a slot corner. He doesn’t have elite speed but he tackles well and plays hard. He is the type of corner you want to fill the end of your roster with.

    Grade: C

    Overall Grade: A-

    This unit would be in much better shape had they kept Joselio Hanson on the roster. He gives them an extra slot corner and a good one at that. Now they are thin at the position and will be asking a lot out of Brandon Boykin in his first season.

    Having said that, the Eagles might have the best duo on the outside with Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie. If this unit stays healthy they will be one of the best in the league.


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    The Eagles safeties get more criticism than any other position on this roster. Is it deserved? In the early portion of the 2011 season it was. The problem was that Nate Allen’s knee wasn’t right and Jarrad Page really struggled in a starting role. Once Allen got healthy he and Kurt Coleman played well last season.


    Nate Allen

    Allen is listed as the team’s starting strong safety, but Juan Castillo believes that his safeties are interchangeable. Allen is better playing as a center fielder, protecting the deep portion. Allen is also a textbook tackler; he doesn’t usually lay the lumber on the ball carrier but he always wraps him up. That is an important trait to have when you are often the last line of defense.

    Grade: B-

    Kurt Coleman

    Kurt Coleman was never supposed to be a starting safety. He became a starter late in the 2010 season when Nate Allen went down. Then he took over at strong safety when Jaiquawn Jarrett struggled as a rookie last season. Coleman, a former seventh-round draft pick back in 2010, was passed over because of his lack of size and speed. This has rarely affected him on the field. He always finds a way to be around the football and is as sure a tackler as they come.

    Grade: B-

    Jaiquawn Jarrett

    Jarrett had one really bad preseason game but followed it up with three preseason games that were all better than the previous one. You can’t focus on the one bad game, especially in preseason. Every NFL player has his bad games. Not every player can bounce back from them and learn from it. The progression Jarrett showed after such a bad game is key. He started to react much quicker and got on the same page as the rest of the defense.

    Grade: C+

    David Sims

    At the end of preseason, the Eagles need some more depth at safety. O.J. Atogwe was supposed to be a key reserve this season but he was never healthy. You can’t keep a backup player that is never healthy.

    Sims was traded for a conditional draft pick from the Cleveland Browns.  Sims had himself a whale of a preseason with 14 tackles and two interceptions. We need to see more from him before we can believe he has starter potential, but he should be a good backup safety on a roster that badly needed it.

    Grade: C

    Colt Anderson

    Colt Anderson is listed as a safety but won’t play the position unless three of the Eagles safeties get hurt at the same time. He is a special teams ace who excels at covering kicks. He does it better than just about anyone in the NFL. He suffered an ACL tear late last season and is expected to be fully recovered from it very soon. He starts the season on the 53-man roster but will probably be inactive for at least a game or two in the beginning of the season.

    Grade: A-

    Overall Grade: C+

    This group may be a bit underrated but it still has a lot to prove. There is a good safety class coming in next April’s draft. If this group doesn’t take that next step, you can bet Andy Reid will look for an upgrade or two.

Special Teams

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    The kicking game for the Eagles is pretty solid for the most part. You won't see a lot of awful punts, badly missed field goals or botched snaps. They are quiet in a really good way.


    Alex Henery

    Henery missed just two field goals under 50 yards during the 2011 season. He made a game-winning field goal very late in the opening preseason game from 51 yards. He is a very accurate kicker who can make a field goal from anywhere up to 55 yards. His kickoffs have also improved heading into this season. He has made the transition from David Akers a very easy one.

    Grade: A-

    Chas Henry

    Chas Henry does not have a big leg for a punter. He has shown plenty of accuracy, downing eight of his 12 preseason punts inside the 20, but his average has been a very unimpressive 36.1 yards per punt. If his power doesn't improve this season you can bet the Eagles are going to look to bring someone in for competition once again. The one thing he really has working for him is his ability as a holder. We have yet to see him put down a bad hold for Alex Henery. That is something that you can never overrate.

    Grade: B-

    Jon Dorenbos

    Dorenbos is one of the best long snappers in the game. His snaps are always perfect and he hustles down field to help cover punts. He is the type of player that no one outside of Philly knows about and that is a good thing to hear for a long snapper.

    Grade: A

    Overall Grade: B+

    The only real issue here is with Chas Henry being a more consistent punter. Everything else is solid with the kicking game and should continue to be that way.