The Philadelphia Eagles have gone through a major overhaul this offseason with head coach Chip Kelly running the show. Gone are some of the 2014 NFL top 100 players like LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles and Evan Mathis. But even though those household names are no longer in town, the Eagles still managed to have four players currently on their roster named to NFL Network’s ‘Top 100 Players of 2015″ list by their peers. Here are where the Eagles that made the list ranked, including one new face in midnight green:
DeMarco Murray may be the best player that head coach Chip Kelly picked up during the offseason. His high ranking on the list is due to his stellar performance in 2014 with the Dallas Cowboys. He was the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,845 yards on 392 attempts and 13 touchdowns. There is the ongoing debate that Murray was a product of Dallas’ offensive line, but in reality, Murray is a star all his own.
This loss for Dallas is Philadelphia’s gain and Murray will have such a huge impact for his new team in 2015. One of the best things about Murray is that he’s a versatile back. He has the ability to get the tough yards and is going to be a challenge for defensive backs to bring down once he gets to the last level of a defense. Murray also had 57 catches for 416 yards last season, making him one of the best offensive threats for the Eagles during the upcoming season.
The 27-year-old Murray has the potential to be a huge playmaker in Philadelphia but his success will likely be determined by whoever is the starting quarterback. He could potentially line-up with his former college teammate at Oklahoma, quarterback Sam Bradford, which would certainly make for some fun headlines. All things aside, Murray’s ranking as the fourth best player in the NFL is more than appropriate.
Jason Peters is still playing with the same high intensity level that he brought to the team since he was traded from the Buffalo Bills in 2009. He is one of the best left tackles in the game and he has plenty of accolades to further justify that label. Last season with the team he was the only offensive lineman to start and play in all 16 games. Having to deal with a lot of injuries along the offensive line put pressure on Peters and he performed above and beyond the call of duty.
Last season alone he helped the team generate over 6,000 total yards of offense and helped then Eagles running back LeSean McCoy earn 1,319 rushing yards. His age hasn’t slowed him down and the 34-year old isn’t showing any signs of stopping soon. Peters has seven Pro Bowl selections, five as an Eagle, and has the second most Pro Bowl nominations by an offensive lineman in the team’s history. In 2015, Peters will likely continue his dominance and have another stellar season in Kelly’s offense.
Connor Barwin had a fantastic season in 2014, earning second-team All Pro and Pro Bowl honors. He’s an impact player who’s surprisingly good in coverage and great against the run. He reads the field well and knows how to use his size. Barwin is a versatile player willing to rush the passer and drop into pass coverage. Given his time with the Houston Texans and years playing alongside defensive end J.J. Watt, Barwin has learned from the best how to bat down passes and has done so at a high rate in Philadelphia.
He’s also the only Eagles player with significant 3-4 outside linebacker experience and dropped into coverage on 42 percent of the snaps. Given his athleticism and size, Barwin can be used in a variety of ways in defensive coordinator Billy Davis‘ scheme and his role will likely expand even more in 2015. It wouldn’t be out of the question to see over 15 sacks from Barwin this season and an ever bigger on-field presence.
Darren Sproles joined the Eagles after being traded from New Orleans in 2013. Sproles then signed a two-year contract to keep him in Philadelphia through 2016. It’s impressive that the Eagles got him for as little as a fifth round draft pick and it was a really wise pickup during the 2013 offseason. He’s a versatile threat for the team as a running back, receiver and a returner. That is what Chip Kelly loves in his players, someone who he can use all around the field as the situation changes. Sproles accomplished a lot during his first year with the Eagles. He led the NFL in punt return average (13.0), punt return yards (506) and tied for the league lead in punt return touchdowns (2).
The 32-year old veteran has more talent to bring to an extremely talented group of running backs. A number 81 ranking is great for Sproles, who was unranked last year, and bodes well for the team as a whole. There are high hopes for Sproles this upcoming season but he’ll also have to compete with the likes of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. Murray is easily his toughest competition, having come off of a fantastic 2014 year with the Cowboys. He might also see less time as a punt returner as rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor has the potential to see time in that position as well. He earned second-team AP All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time last season and it’s likely he could again if he posts even better numbers this year.
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