Eagles All-Pro James Bradberry lands on ranking among top five stingiest NFL cornerbacks

It doesn't get much better than James Bradberry at the cornerback position. Just ask the stat gurus over at Pro Football Focus.
James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles
James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles / Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Some of you have followed James Bradberry's career since his entry into the NFL. He was the 62nd player taken by the Carolina Panthers in 2016. No one who knows that needs to be reminded that he's been good at his job for a very long time. With seven impressive seasons in his rear-view mirror, the man wearing the Philadelphia Eagles' Number 24 jersey is still touted as one of the best in the NFL. It's hard to believe that will change in 2023.

Pro Football Focus named him among the 20 stingiest cornerbacks in the game. His official ranking was third as he was credited with only allowing an open target to wide receivers by their quarterbacks 27.9 percent of the time. Only Michael Davis of the L.A. Chargers (26.2%) and Alontae Taylor of the New Orleans Saints (27.5%) allowed opposing signal-callers an open target less frequently

Just in case you're curious, Darius Slay, Philly's other starter on the outside, landed at 20. Here's what was said about James.

"James Bradberry had the largest sample size among players on this list, as his 759 coverage snaps (playoffs included) were 81 more than the next closest corner (Tariq Woolen). Bradberry also faced the second-most targets, 104, trailing only Asante Samuel Jr. That makes Bradberry finishing third in open-target rate against all the more impressive."

Jim Wyman, PFF

What can be expected of James Bradberry for an encore in an Eagles jersey? It's too early to tell, but based on the resume he has crafted so far, we expect him to be special. We rewind the tape to the 2020 offseason. That's where we'll begin our story.

The Eagles land James Bradberry, two years after some previously expected them to.

If you're a football junkie, you're aware that James Bradberry could have joined the Philadelphia Eagles' roster a while ago. Following four seasons in Charlotte, he and Byron Jones entered the 2020 NFL offseason as the two most coveted cornerbacks on the free-agent market. It would have been nice to have nabbed one. The Birds were in a pinch and had been for a while, but while many were eyeing Bradberry, the Eagles brass had already set the wheels in motion to move on another deal.

Howie Roseman waved his magic wand, and Darius Slay was added as a very acceptable prize by way of a trade with the Detroit Lions. As fate would have it, Bradberry wound up joining the nest anyway. He was finally acquired two years later, two years after some were expecting.

Philly added James to the nest on May 18th after he was allowed to walk by the G-Man during their attempt to clear some cap space. Fast forward to the present. Slay is coming off of consecutive Pro Bowl seasons (2021 and 2022). James is preparing for his eighth professional season after being named Second-Team All-Pro the last time we saw him. That was the first time in his career that he had accomplished that feat.

The question now is this. It's one that you've probably asked once or twice.

What will this phenomenal combo of James Bradberry and Darius Slay accomplish with the Eagles during the 2023 NFL season?

It isn't often that we're excited by the prospect of entering a season with two starting cornerbacks who are both over the age of 30. No one truly knows what to expect. Regression can't be ruled out. That's part of the NFL game. More often than not, however, if players aren't retiring from the NFL voluntarily, the NFL retires them.

Here's the good news. No one should be shocked if Slay and Bradberry produce more fireworks while working together in unison. If anyone can make believers out of doubters, it's definitely those two.

It took some doing. It appeared that the Eagles might lose one or both of them at some point during the most recent offseason, but after some savvy salary cap management, another year with Darius Slay and James Bradberry working together in unison is imminent.

Slay, the Pro Bowler, didn't end the most recent Eagles season as furiously as his campaign began, but he had a respectable run overall. He's still as a brash as over though. Bradberry goes about his business more quietly, but he maintained his steady and solid production all season.

Year one for the best CB tandem in pro football went about as well as it could. These are two of the most gifted cover guys in the entire NFL. Expectations are high as they'll annoy quarterback/wide receiver combos again in 2023. New Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai certainly has some weapons in his secondary.