Eagles News: Two veterans land on NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2022 ranking
For the 12th consecutive year, NFL Network is airing their top 100 players ranking for the upcoming season. On Sunday, the network dropped the first batch of their list, which included the 100th-best player all the way down to the 51st.
Two Eagles players managed to crack the NFL’s first wave of rankings. The two selections shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Darius Slay and Jason Kelce were voted as the 77th and 71st-best players in the NFL respectively.
Kicking things off with the first Eagle to show up on this year’s list, Big Play Slay earned his moniker last season and in turn, earned his fourth appearance on the NFL Top 100 Players ranking.
Slay led the NFL in defensive touchdowns last season, taking two fumble recoveries and one interception to the house. He hauled in three interceptions in total and posted a 25.6 passer rating in single coverage, the best mark in the NFL in 2021.
Per Pro Football Focus, the veteran corner was the fourth-best player at his position based on their grading system, finishing the year with an overall grade of 81.0 along with a coverage grade of 84.5 (third-best among 115 qualifying corners).
After a lackluster 2020 campaign with the Eagles, there was some doubt with Slay entering last season. With the remarkable numbers he put up and the respect among his peers solidified, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone questioning Slay’s ability now.
Just a few slots later, Jason Kelce came in as the 71st-best player in the NFL entering the 2022 season, making his third-straight appearance on the list.
As Eagles fans, we all know how great Kelce has been during his Philly tenure, but it’s still nice to see the future Hall of Famer get some national recognition.
The 34-year-old Kelce has started 122 consecutive games for the Birds, the longest active streak among centers. That streak could be in jeopardy after the center opted to have elbow surgery ahead of the 2022 season, but the team does expect him to be ready by Week 1.
Throughout his 10-year career, Kelce has been named first-team All-Pro four times and has earned five Pro Bowl nods, the second-most all-time among Eagles offensive lineman, behind only Jason Peters (seven).
PFF ranked Kelce as the third-best center in football last season, handing the veteran an overall grade of 84.5. Kelce has posted a PFF grade of 81.0 or better in four of the past five seasons, with his highest mark coming during the 2017 Super Bowl season (94.4).
It’s hard to put into words just how valuable Kelce has been for the Eagles’ offense during his outstanding career. He’s been the anchor of their offensive line with four different coaching staffs now and hasn’t missed a step. Cam Jurgens will have extraordinarily big shoes to fill once Kelce officially hangs up the cleats.
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Will any other Eagles players crack the NFL Top 100 this year?
NFL Network still has two portions of their rankings that have yet to be revealed. The 50th-31st players will be announced on Sunday, August 21 starting at 4:30 p.m, and the top-20 will be revealed the following Sunday, August 28, beginning at 8 p.m.
There are still two Eagles players who have a strong case for this year’s list, but only one feels like a lock right now.
Although Lane Johnson didn’t make the Pro Bowl last year, he was named second-team All-Pro and is widely considered as one of the best tackles in the game.
From a pass-blocking perspective, Johnson had arguably his best season to date in 2021. On 416 pass blocking reps, Johnson surrendered just one quarterback hit and was the only Eagles lineman to allow zero sacks.
Without a doubt, Johnson deserves to make this year’s list. But my gut tells me he won’t. Despite having an outstanding season in 2021, it would still feel a little odd to have Johnson ranked higher than Kelce.
On the other hand, wideout AJ Brown feels like a lock to make the NFL’s list this year. Even though he had a bit of a down year by his standards last season, Brown is still in nearly every top-10 WRs list on the internet.
Brown came in at No. 62 in last year’s rankings and despite starting 13 games in 2021, Brown was still ranked as the fifth-best wideout in football according to Pro Football Focus, earning an overall grade of 86.3.
With young players like Mac Jones, Kyle Pitts, and Jaylen Waddle cracking the list after just one season in the NFL, it would be a little shocking if someone with Brown’s pedigree didn’t make the cut.
Personally, I think Jordan Mailata should make the list as well. His transformation from star rugby player to one of the best young tackles in the game is remarkable and he deserves recognition for that.
Nevertheless, he only has one full year of starts under his belt and is still somewhat of an unknown commodity outside of Philadelphia. Like most of the budding stars populating the Eagles roster, Mailata will get his due soon enough.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Eagles