Three Eagles Named To PFF Midseason All-Pro Team

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Eagles won the Super Bowl last season, largely due to their ability to win in the trenches. Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, and Jason Kelce were amongst the best lineman on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, Jason Kelce was the highest rated offensive lineman overall last season.

The 30-year-old center has continued that dominance this season. While he is not the top overall lineman, Pro Football Focus has rated him as the best interior offensive lineman midway through the season.

While there are a few tackles ranked above him, largely due to some of the fairly obvious blunders he has made through the first eight games of the season, his mistakes are few and far between. He is well known for his run-blocking, but he has only allowed five pressures in route to putting up the third highest pass-blocking grade of any center this season. He has been dominant enough to be rated at 81.0 while the best guard so far this season, Austin Blythe of the Rams, has only graded out at an 80.3.

His play has made him the obvious selection for the All-Pro team halfway through the season. The Eagles have him under contract until the 2021 season.

While Kelce is the only offensive player to make the cut, he isn’t the only Eagles player to be selected to PFF’s Midseason All-Pro team in the trenches.

Both Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox made the cut on the defensive side of the ball. Graham had a rather slow start to the season, but remains a dominant force since bouncing back from that early-season ankle injury. He is ranked as the third best edge rusher this season, but was selected to the team due to his ability to affect both the pass and run game. While he may not always put up the traditional statistics like tackles and sacks, he ranks as the ninth best pass rusher and sixth best run stopper among defensive ends through eight games this season.

Graham has come into his own over the past few seasons and is set to be a free agent this offseason. Due to his high-caliber play, he is set for a big payday and, with the Eagles cap situation, the birds may not be able to keep him around. While his loss will be huge, his huge contract and play will almost surely result in a third-round comp pick in the 2020 draft should he leave.

Meanwhile, Fletcher Cox, who had set his sights on earning Defensive Player of the Year, is well on his way. He leads the league with 14 quarterback hits this season. The Eagles are lucky to have such a player under contract until the 2023 season.

I think this needs to be put into perspective, however. Cox being ranked with Donald makes him look rather unimpressive as he has not even been the best player at his position and is 3.2 points back from the player in first. That is why it is important to note that Aaron Donald is a monster. Cox trails only Donald, not for the lead amongst interior defensive lineman, but as the highest rated player so far this season.

That is correct – Fletcher Cox has been the second-best player in the NFL all season long, according to Pro Football Focus. Take into consideration that through the first eight games, the Rams and Aaron Donald have already lined up against three of the worst teams in the league (Raiders, Cardinals and 49ers) while the Eagles have only had one game that was against a team with two or fewer wins (Giants) for Fletcher Cox to pad his stats. Cox has certainly put himself in position to make a solid case for the DPOTY award, but even if he cannot surpass Aaron Donald, it should not go understated just how absolutely dominant Fletch has been.

Two other Eagles to crack some of PFF’s midseason rankings were Kamu Grugier-Hill and Dallas Goedert. While Kamu has proven himself to be a capable linebacker who has been starting opposite Nigel Bradham, he was ranked as the fifth best special teams player in the league so far. Meanwhile, Goedert has been rated as the best rookie tight end this season. That is good news for Eagles fans as he is the only rookie to have played enough snaps to have truly made an impact and qualify for any of these rankings.

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