Philadelphia Eagles: Breaking Down Most Surprising Players of the Early Season
The Philadelphia Eagles are off to a 2-0 start and much of this can be attributed to the surprisingly strong play of many players on the roster. This has contributed to the early success of the team so far.
The team has gotten a huge boost from many rookies who are playing like seasoned veterans, making up for their lack of experience with their natural instincts and talent. However, some veterans have also played better than fans and possibly even coaches had anticipated.
Here are the five most surprising players so far in the early season.
1. Brandon Boykin
Rob Carr/Getty Images
When the Eagles drafted Boykin, everyone knew that he had potential and that it was a wise pick. However, not many expected Boykin to make this strong of an immediate impact.
The Eagles took a bit of a risk when they decided to cut their veteran nickel corner, Joselio Hanson. But Boykin has filled in admirably and excelled, showing great coverage abilities and excellent tackling.
He played a pivotal role in the Eagles' win over the Baltimore Ravens, breaking up key passes and helping the Eagles to make crucial stops.
He is a great young corner who has a bright future ahead of him.
2. Mychal Kendricks
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Like Boykin, Kendricks was viewed as a player who clearly had a great deal of potential. But also like Boykin, Kendricks has been playing out of his mind so far.
He is a great tackler, shows impressive speed and is excellent in coverage. Not only was he able to beat out Jamar Chaney for the starting outside linebacker spot, but he is excelling, being one of the best linebackers the Eagles have had in a while.
What is perhaps most impressive is that Kendricks has only played two NFL games so far. His future is only beginning.
And when he is already making great defensive plays in clutch situations like a seasoned veteran would, blanketing Ray Rice on a fourth-down pass to preserve an Eagles victory, the future is very, very bright.
3. DeMeco Ryans
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Ryans is also one of the best linebackers the Eagles have had in a while, perhaps since Jeremiah Trotter. The middle linebacker position (much like the entire linebackers corps) was a huge liability last season, and the Eagles made it a priority to acquire a difference-making veteran.
It may be safe to say that they 100 percent succeeded in that plan, and then some.
Ryans not only provides the leadership that the Eagles were hoping for, but he seems to have completely recovered from his knee injury, which limited his productivity last season. There were concerns when trading for Ryans that he may no longer be the Pro Bowl player he once was, but that does not seem to be the case.
In both games so far, Ryans has made key stops and big plays consistently. He shows excellent field awareness, great tackling and good coverage. He is a leader not just with words, but with his play.
4. Kurt Coleman
Jason Miller/Getty Images
The safety position seemed like a huge liability during the offseason, most notably the strong safety spot. But Kurt Coleman has really taken a huge step in 2012, and the improved safety play has helped the secondary as a whole.
Coleman is much improved in coverage, and his tackling seems to be more polished. He also still has good hands and is still capable of nabbing interceptions.
The Eagles may not have found the runaway solution at strong safety, but Coleman has certainly proved himself as a serviceable player. His improvement has greatly helped the cohesiveness of the Eagles defense.
5. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Many analysts expected Nnamdi Asomugha to bounce back after a lackluster 2011 season. But while many also expected DRC to bounce back, few expected him to be this good.
Rodgers-Cromartie picked off two passes in his first two games, and his tackling has improved drastically. He has shown the ability to keep up with receivers and to also generate big plays. There are few players on the Eagles defense as athletic as he is.
While DRC has not been perfect, getting burned on a few big plays by opposing wide receivers, he has shown that he can excel if returned to his natural position as an outside press corner. Improvement in DRC's play was to be expected, but if it keeps up he could potentially make a case for the Pro Bowl.