NFL Executive Shockingly High on Eagles Chances

Brandon Graham

Getty Brandon Graham and his defensive line mates are a key reason one NFL executive thinks there will be more celebrations in the Eagles future, though he's not calling them favorites to hoist the Lombardi just yet.

The Philadelphia Eagles are going to coast to the NFC East division title, according to at least one NFL executive. Perceptions of the Eagles seem to be rising league-wide, and that in addition to key injuries to division rivals have Philadelphia positioned as the team to beat in the division, the executive told Heavy NFL Insider Matt Lombardo.

“I thought Dallas would give the Eagles a good run at the division this year, but now I think Philly’s going to run away with it,” the executive told Heavy on the condition of anonymity.

The Cowboys suffered a major injury setback when left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a major knee and hamstring injury on August 24. After a full evaluation, it was revealed that the eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro had an avulsion fracture of his knee, according to NFL Network.

That’s a massive loss for the rival Cowboys, as Smith was ranked the second-best offensive tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus. But the Eagles rising stock within the division isn’t just about opponents suffering setbacks.

Eagles Roster Improved Throughout the Offseason, Camp

Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman has continued to improve his roster during training camp, and the team has looked strong in practice.

“I think Philly’s got a good team, and they’ve got the chemistry because they have a good front on both sides. And that’s huge,” the executive told Lombardo. “When you have a great offensive line and a great defensive line, that’s a really good start. You don’t need the best quarterback in the league, when you have that.”

The Eagles organizational philosophy has centered around building strength in the trenches for decades, and they appear to be in one of the stronger positions they’ve ever been in on the offensive and defensive lines.

Offensive Line Among the Best in the NFL

On the offensive side, the Eagles have a mixture of experience and youth, with veteran right tackle Lane Johnson and center Jason Kelce playing the role of grizzled veterans who are still among the best at their positions. Johnson ranks 10th at tackle and Kelce is the third-best center in the league, per Pro Football Focus. Jordan Mailata may not have gotten as much leaguewide recognition yet, but he appears poised to do just that, ranking third on the list of tackles in the NFL.

Right guard Isaac Seumalo doesn’t qualify for the rankings due to missing the snap minimum last year after an injury, but would have placed just outside the top 10 based on his grade. The 28-year-old should be headed into the prime of his career. Left guard Landon Dickerson ranked 22nd, and is expected to improve in his second season.

Eagles D-Line Hopes New Additions, Healthy Vets Make It Elite

Meanwhile, the Eagles ranked a dismal 31st in the league in sacks per pass attempt last year at 4.92%, but they have addressed that in big ways this offseason. The Eagles signed EDGE rusher Haason Reddick and used a first round pick on defensive tackle Jordan Davis.

A pair of veterans also appear poised to recapture their old form after disappointing seasons. Last year coming off of his first career Pro Bowl appearance, defensive end Brandon Graham tore his Achilles tendon and missed most of the season. Even in May’s OTAs, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was noticing Graham’s conditioning coming off of the injury.

“He looks good out there right now, and I kind of had to tell him actually, ‘Hey, we don’t play for a couple months here, you don’t have to go full tilt,’ because he’s full tilt all the time,” Gannon said during his May 24 press conference.

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox tied for the fewest sacks he’s had since 2013 last year with 3.5, and the fewest tackles he’s had in a full 16-game season at any point in his career with 35. Cox recently told the media he was overthinking the new scheme last year, and he feels better about producing in Gannon’s system going forward.

If that pair produces at their usual levels, the infusion of Reddick and Davis, along with returning talent like Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat, could make for one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL.

Strong Sentiment Not Necessarily Universal

While at least one league executive thinks the Eagles are poised to cruise to a division title, it’s hard to tell if that’s the consensus just yet. Oddsmakers still have this priced as a two-team race. FanDuel gives the Eagles and Cowboys identical odds to win the division at +145, which implies around a 37% chance for each team. Their prices on the Commanders give them less than a 15% chance, with the Giants around 11%.

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