Where PFF ranks every Eagles position heading into 2021: Offense
Pro Football Focus issued its yearly positional rankings heading into the 2021 season. While most of these ratings come after an abysmal season for the Eagles, the new coaching staff brings a unique energy that could help some of these groups excel beyond expectations. PFF has not been kind to the Eagles this offseason so let’s look at where they ranked each unit heading into the 2021 season.
QB Jalen Hurts | PFF Rank: 31st
PFF cites the decline in Hurts’ play after the Saints win, but that’s still only a two-game sample size. He does have to improve in his decision-making heading into Year Two after causing nine turnover-worthy plays in four games.
I think the most criminal part of these rankings is that Hurts is ranked just below Zach Wilson (#30), who’s never taken a pro snap and plays for the Jets. Tua Tagovailoa comes in at #29 despite throwing for only 753 more yards and five more touchdowns than Hurts in five more starts.
Lastly, PFF ranked Justin Fields at #25, another QB who’s never taken a pro snap, and Carson Wentz at #23 despite finishing lower than Tua in their final 2020 Quarterback Position Grades for some more salt in the wound.
RB Miles Sanders | PFF Rank: 19th
Sanders had a complicated 2020 campaign in which he totaled 1,064 scrimmage yards on only 192 touches, good for 5.5 yards per touch. But for whatever reason, Dougie P never consistently got Miles involved in the offense. His highest workload on the season came in Week One (23 touches), where he totaled 131 total yards on nearly 5.70 yards per touch.
Week One was Sanders’ second-highest total yardage on the season, just after his breakout Saints game. With Hurts under center, Miles toasted the Saints’ defense for 136 total yards on 18 touches for an exceptional 7.55 yards gained per touch. Before this game, the Saints defense had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 55 consecutive games while Boobie toasted them for 115 yards on just 14 carries.
Given the way the season went with limited touches for Miles, I’m not too upset where he landed, although James Robinson is ranked #18 and David Montgomery is ranked #13. Expect a BIG league from Boobie Miles in the 2021 season.
Wide Receiver Unit | PFF Rank: 30th
Yikes, but understandable. The Eagles have ranked dead last in receiving grades in each of the previous two seasons. While Jalen Reagor did not impress much in Year One, you can’t place the blame on a rookie playing in a dysfunctional offense at the time. The addition of DeVonta Smith adds a reliable alpha receiver who can stretch the field just like Reagor.
The third member of this trio is Travis Fulgham, who broke onto the scene midseason. In Weeks 4-8, the former sixth-round pick from Old Dominion recorded the 6th highest offensive grade (86.0) and the 9th highest receiving grade (84.1) in the league. On top of that, he led the NFL in some crucial categories during that span.
- 29 receptions (T-6th)
- 435 receiving yards (1st)
- 4 TD receptions (T-2nd)
- 3.88 yards/route run (1st)
- 21 1st downs (T-1st)
- 5 contested catches (T-7th)
- 134.5 Passer Rating when targeted (9th, min. 15 targets)
Weeks 6 and 7 were dud performances by Fulgham, and then came along Alshon Jeffery. From Weeks 8-16, Alshon received 202 offensive snaps compared to Fulgham’s 150. I’m not sure if that had to do with a slight regression to Fulgham’s game after teams had sufficient tape on him or if the Eagles’ higher-ups were too committed to a high-salary player.
Some questionable calls in the PFF rankings are the Titans at 29 pre-Julio Jones trade where it was only A.J. Brown as the lone weapon. The ranking that stung the most was the Raiders at 26, led by Nelson “Unlike” Agholor, still unproven Henry Ruggs, and somewhat-reliable Hunter Renfrow. I guess it has to be the Gruden effect?
This ranking stings, but I think the Eagles have put their young wide receiving core in a position to exceed expectations in a new scheme. It’s a solid group with a lot to prove and a new offense to highlight their strengths.
Eagles WRs Ranked in PFF Top 32: None
TE Dallas Goedert | PFF Rank: 5th
TE Zach Ertz | PFF Rank: 13th
I decide to include Zach Ertz on this list even though I doubt he will be with the Eagles this season. I mean, it would be unfathomably awkward after his last press conference ended in tears, and he expressed how grateful he was to the organization. Now, we’re just going to pretend like that never happened?
So this will be focused on the South Dakota Jack Rabbit product. Dallas Goedert has somewhat flown under the radar nationally while splitting the field with Zach Ertz. However, since 2018, Goedert is the only tight end with receiving and run-blocking grades at 80.0 or higher. Let that sink in. George Kittle is known as the premier “dual-threat” tight end, and Goedert bested him during that span while playing next to Zach Ertz.
The four tight ends ahead of Goedert on PFF’s list are Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Darren Waller, and Kyle Pitts, who has the massive learning curve as a tight end coming into the NFL and, again, hasn’t taken a pro snap. Given a Zach Ertz trade, I fully expect Dallas Goedert to be in the conversation for Top 3 tight ends in the league at the end of this season.
Offensive Line | PFF Rank: 17th
After multiple seasons of never-ending injuries, a rotating carousel of different lineups, and rookies stepping up earlier than expected, this rankings feels about right. A nagging ankle injury contributed to Lane Johnson’s career-low offensive grade of 71.9, which eventually required surgery, ending his season in Week 12.
The human cyborg himself, Brandon Brooks, is set to return once again. Back in 2019, he was the league’s highest-graded guard at 92.8. It’s been devastating injury after devastating injury for Brooks, but if he can regain any sort of his old form form, the Eagles will have one of the best interior linemen in the NFL.
Isaac Seumalo continues his reign as left guard after a very confusing 2020 campaign. He ranked 8th amongst guards in pass-blocking (77.4) but 68th in run-blocking (52.2). A curious case but nothing General Jeff Stoutland can’t handle.
In my non-biased opinion, Jason Kelce remains one of the top centers in the NFL. He’s been PFF’s highest-graded center over the past few years despite playing on with one arm or on one leg most games. However, his 69.6 offensive grade was his lowest since his rookie season with the Eagles back in 2011. Again, those grades reflect Kelce’s “Ironman” mentality by battling it out each week with several injuries.
Now the big question for the Eagles comes regarding the significant left tackle position. Andre Dillard missed all of last season after suffering torn biceps in training camp. The 22nd overall selection in 2019 struggled heavily during his rookie campaign. In only 183 pass-blocking snaps, Dillard allowed four sacks (2nd on team), four QB Hits (T-3rd), and 17 QB Hurries (T-4th). Let me remind you, he played more than 250 fewer snaps than the starters and managed to finish Top 5 in the worst offensive lineman categories.
His competition will be the 6-foot-8, 346-pound Goliath from Bankstown, Australia, Jordan Mailata. The 2018 seventh-round selection was a complete question mark but has surprisingly developed into a monster in the trenches. While still growing as an NFL left tackle, Dillard’s injury thrust Mailata into action where he held his own. The former Rugby player has developed a sound technique in his pass-blocking and is an absolute freight train in the run game. He finished in the 13th highest percentile of positively graded run blocks among tackles.
Lastly, the Eagles saw some valuable reps from young guys like rookie Jack Driscoll at right tackle and Nate Herbig playing on the interior line. A solid group of veterans backed by solid youth role players could help the Eagles offensive line return to form. That is if the injury bug finally decides to leave us alone this season.
Eagles O-Lineman Ranked in PFF Top 32:
#5 C- Jason Kelce
#8 OG- Brandon Brooks
#10 OT- Lane Johnson
#22 OG- Isaac Seumalo
Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff Getty Images