Ronald Darby makes PFF’s Top 25 players under 25

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Ronald Darby /

Although Ronald Darby had it rough during his first season in Philadelphia, Pro Football Focus still believes in him.

Was there a player on the Philadelphia Eagles criticized more than Ronald Darby in 2017? The 24-year old cornerback had nothing but obstacles stacked against him in his third season, and he still came out on top as a Super Bowl champion. Let’s look back to last summer. At this time last year, Darby was donning a Buffalo Bills uniform. Assuming he would play at least two more years in Buffalo, Darby had no idea he would soon be a Philadelphia Eagle.

Out of nowhere, Darby comes to Philadelphia in the middle of the preseason in exchange for wide receiver, Jordan Matthews. He was the clear-cut number one cornerback on the team. As soon as Darby slightly adjusted to Jim Schwartz system, he was thrown onto the field as a starter in the second week of the preseason. Ironically, he played against his former team, the Buffalo Bills.

Darby quickly won over the Eagles fan base when he picked off Tyrod Taylor early on and almost took it to the house. Unfortunately, Darby soon would suffer a dislocated ankle in the first half of Game One against the Washington Redskins, forcing him to miss a large chunk of the regular season.

The love was lost:

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Darby finally returned after the Eagles bye week to re-debut against the Dallas Cowboys. He loaded up on eight tackles, along with an interception. But for some reason, Darby’s mistakes began to have an impact on Eagles fans minds rather than his accomplishments. And instead of cutting Darby some slack due to the fact he was getting back to one-hundred percent on the fly, he ate up more criticism than anyone else on the defense.

Despite the fan base’s strange hate towards Darby, the analysts still see a promising young player in the three-year veteran. Pro Football Focus recently put together a list of the Top 25 players under the age of 25. The only Eagles’ player to make the list was Ronald Darby, at No. 25. Here’s what PFF had to say about Darby’s previous seasons.

"Darby makes his second appearance on this list, now with three seasons under his belt. He has graded very well in two of them including the 23rd-ranked 84.2 overall grade in 2017. When quarterbacks targeted his coverage last season, they didn’t get much in return, collectively producing a 57.2 passer rating."

Are the fans overreacting?

Look, we’ve seen Darby struggle at times in 2017. Especially in the Super Bowl, when the Eagles secondary let Tom Brady throw all over them. But when it comes down to it, Darby is as clutch as they come. Getting beat on a few plays can be frustrating, but you can’t disregard the fact that Darby has had some game-changing plays.

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With a full offseason/season in Philadelphia, Darby could surely put on a show. There was a reason the Eagles traded for him in the first place, and it is doubtful that he doesn’t put up a fight for one of the two starting spots at cornerback. Is he one of the leagues best players under the age of 25? Only time will tell. But don’t sleep on Darby, he’s still got it.