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ESPN lists Eagles CB as an under-the-radar MVP candidate

MVP buzz has surrounded the Philadelphia Eagles all season. QB Jalen Hurts is currently second in the MVP odds, per DraftKings Sportsbook, and has already taken home the NFC Player of the Month award back in September.

While Hurts is undoubtedly the most likely player on the Eagles roster to take home the MVP at season’s end, ESPN believes there’s another Philly player worth keeping an eye on in the race for Most Valuable Player.

Over the weekend, while all of us were fawning over the Phillies’ miraculous World Series berth, ESPN NFL analyst Seth Walder named Eagles cornerback James Bradberry as an under-the-radar MVP candidate to watch.


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Walder on why the Eagles CB deserves MVP consideration:

Bradberry is worthy of a top-10 MVP vote, in my view. His nearest defender numbers from NFL Next Gen Stats are outrageous. Among outside corners with 125 coverage snaps, Bradberry ranks:

  • Second in yards per coverage snap (0.5)
  • First in targeted expected points added by a wide margin (minus-25.8)
  • Second in completion percentage over expectation (minus-20%)
  • First in receptions allowed over expectation (minus-8.0)

To put the second number in context, the Bengals have recorded plus-28.7 EPA on Joe Burrow dropbacks this season (I’m mixing between NGS and ESPN EPA models here — not ideal, but you get the point). To record a level of production as a corner that’s in the same ballpark as a higher-end QB is incredibly valuable. Yes, a bunch of that was generated on a deflection that he turned into a pick-six off Jared Goff, but it was hardly a one-off; Bradberry has been superb the whole year.

Now, will Bradberry actually win the MVP this season? I’d give it a .00001% chance of happening, but that shouldn’t take away from the remarkable season he’s putting together.

Per Pro Football Focus, Bradberry is the 16th-highest graded corner in football this season, earning a 76.1 defensive grade through six weeks. His 80.8 coverage grade ranks eighth out of 110 qualifying corners and a grade point higher than Bradberry’s running mate Darius Slay.

Bradberry’s coverage has been elite this season and his numbers reflect that. On 41 targets, the Eagles CB has allowed just 17 completions (41.5 completion percentage) and a passer rating of 32.2, the second-lowest rating allowed by any corner with at least 20 targets. Slay sits atop that list, surrendering a 31.8 passer rating in 2022.

Bradberry is fourth in passes defended with nine and he has the most coverage snaps (254) without allowing a single touchdown this year.

Taking home the MVP award is a bit far fetched for Bradberry, but the Defensive Player of the Year? There’s certainly a case to be made there.

It’s just refreshing to see some elite cornerback play in Philadelphia. Not only is Bradberry playing extremely well, Big Play Slay has matched him every step of the way.

The best CB tandem in the NFL resides in Philly. What a time to be an Eagles fan.


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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Eagles

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