Eagles earn top-15 finish in second tier of NFL secondary ranking

James Bradberry #24, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
James Bradberry #24, Philadelphia Eagles (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The hits keep coming for the Philadelphia Eagles. Everyone has tried to temper their excitement, but admittedly, that’s been hard to do.

The final days of the 2022 NFL offseason are trickling away. It’s been hard for the City of Brotherly Love, Birds fans who live in other parts of the country, and media members to overlook the guys in midnight green in NFL-related discussions.

Besides pulling off a late trade to acquire Jessie Bates III from the Cincinnati Bengals, the offseason brought us everything we were hoping or waiting on.

Three amazing days during the most recent NFL Draft concluded, and an undrafted rookie free agent class followed, one that might be the most talented in franchise history. There were still questions about the secondary though. We would eventually learn that what we called a less-than-aggressive approach was actually patience.

Vice president/general manager Howie Roseman added James Bradberry shortly after his release from the New York Giants. Jaquiski Tartt was signed via a one-year deal one month later. Voila, a formidable secondary had been assembled.

Pro Football Focus was impressed. They recently pieced together a ranking of the NFL’s best secondaries, and Birds fans will want to give that a look.

Pro Football Focus names the Eagles’ secondary as the NFL’s 13th best.

32 teams and five tiers… That’s how PFF’s Michael Renner stacked his secondary ranking. The tiers are as follows:

  1. Where do offenses even attack?
  2. Teams with minor question marks
  3. Ascending units
  4. Seriously flawed teams
  5. Too much uncertainty

Philadelphia earned a top-15 finish at 13 in the ‘minor question marks’ category. Here’s how Renner explains his decision to place them there.

"If you’re going to be strong anywhere in the secondary, having two potential shut-down cornerbacks on the outside trumps all. Over the past two seasons, James Bradberry ranks first in the NFL in forced incompletions, while Darius Slay ranks sixth in coverage grade."

It’s been a great Eagles offseason overall. The free-agency frenzy began with a bang via Haason Reddick’s addition. Then, things went as silent as before he arrived, other than the reacquisition of some of the team’s familiar faces.

Greg Ward, Derek Barnett, Boston Scott, and Anthony Harris were inked. We can debate each guy and discuss how wise (or unwise) we believe those signings were. Here’s where we all can agree.

With draft capital and cap space at the dawn of free agency, people were praying for the splash signings that weren’t coming fast enough. Philadelphia eventually released Fletcher Cox (March 17th). That was unexpected. Some thought there was an outside shot that they had done this to make room to be more aggressive, but in the back of most of our minds, we had this feeling they’d bring him back.

They did, and it didn’t take long… two days to be exact. Signings like Zach Pascal and Kyzir White were solid albeit slightly unexciting. The top questions were as follows. Where are the safeties? Where are the wide receivers? Does this team understand that they need cornerbacks? Howie Roseman and company have done a great job of answering those questions.

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Not only have the additions of Bradberry and Tartt strengthened the backend of Philly’s defense, but this team also satisfied needs at every other level. Look no further than the decision to draft two former members of the Georgia Bulldogs, Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean, if you need evidence of that one.

Here are a few things to ponder. Darius Slay isn’t getting any younger. Bradberry and Tartt are signed for one year, so we’ll have to revisit questions about the Eagles’ secondary next offseason, but for now, there are reasons to smile. Philly’s defense will be better than it was in 2021.