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July 11, 2023

What they're saying: The Eagles have the best cornerback duo in the NFL

Across the national media, the Eagles' secondary and defensive line are generating a lot of buzz.

Eagles NFL
Darius_Slay_Eagles_Giants_091922_KateFrese143.jpg Kate Frese/PhillyVoice

Eagles cornerback Darius Slay.

We're in the doldrums of the offseason, but before you know it, the Eagles will be back in training camp, people will go wild over preseason standouts and the Birds will begin their defense of the NFC title. Until then, let's take a look at what the national media has to say about the Eagles, including some huge props to the team's secondary...

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Bleacher Report

In an Instagram post, Bleacher Report's football account @brgridiron did a ranking of the best cornerback duos in the NFL. The Eagles came in at No. 1 (click the arrows on the IG embed to move from image to image):

I will say that picture makes no sense because it's Darius Slay and Andre Chachere, who's not even on the team anymore. They obviously mean James Bradberry along with Slay, but somehow, a picture of those two doesn't exist?

Anyway, the ranking feels pretty apt. I might have the Dolphins' tandem of Jalen Ramsey and Xavien Howard ahead of them though. What a matchup the Eagles' Week 7 game against Miami will be in prime time on Sunday Night Football. The league's two best corner tandems against maybe the best two wide receiver duos in A.J Brown-DeVonta Smith and Tyreek Hill-Jaylen Waddle? The NFL knows what it's doing with that scheduling. 

Still Underrated?

ESPN | Jeremy Fowler

ESPN is in the process of ranking a bunch of different positions in the NFL through a voting system of executives, coaches and scouts. Their edge-rusher rankings had Haason Reddick coming in at the No. 5 spot, writing: 

Reddick has reached elite status as a pass-rusher after a banner year in Philadelphia, receiving several top-three votes from evaluators.

This wasn't always his path -- the former first-round pick recorded 7.5 sacks over his first three seasons in Arizona, which miscast him as a defensive end and inside linebacker at various points.

Reddick overcame his uneven start to post 12.5 sacks in his final year in Arizona, followed by 11 sacks with Carolina and 16 with Philadelphia last year.

"He's a closer," an NFC executive said. "Three years, three teams, double-digit sacks back-to-back-to-back. That's an impossible stat."

Reddick's five forced fumbles for the Eagles led the NFL, and his 27.5% pass rush win rate ranks second.

"This is the perfect case of talent entering into the proper situation where he's used correctly," an NFL personnel evaluator said. [ESPN/$]

The edge rushers in front of Reddick, in order from No. 1 on down, were Nick Bosa, Myles Garrett, Micah Parsons and T.J. Watt. 

I'd probably have Reddick at No. 4 ahead of Watt, but on a single-season basis, Reddick's 2022, including the postseason, was better than any other edge rusher in the sport. 

Year 3 Breakout

The Athletic | Bo Wulf

Over at The Athletic, a beat writer for each NFL team picked a breakout candidate for the 2023 season. Reporter Bo Wulf was up for the Eagles' pick and went with third-year defensive tackle Milton Williams, writing:

The Eagles have used a first-round pick on a defensive tackle in each of the past two drafts, but their 2021 third-round pick might be best positioned to surprise in the team’s quest to replace Javon Hargrave’s production. Defensive tackles typically take time to develop, and the 24-year-old Williams has looked good as a rotational player with six total sacks and 12 QB hits across his first two seasons. Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis will be the headliners for this young interior, but the supremely athletic Williams will have a chance to make an impact after dealing with some nagging injuries for parts of 2022. [The Athletic/$]

The Eagles are absolutely stacked at defensive tackle, featuring four DTs in Williams, Fletcher Cox, Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis who could each basically start for any other team in the league. A rotation will keep all these players fresh into the stretch run, which bodes well for a veteran in Cox and two guys still adjusting to the pros in Carter and Davis. That does create an opening for Williams to eat up snaps and showcase his talent. He's shown flashes whenever he's been on the field over the last two years.

In 2021, Williams played 41 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps. In 2022, that number was at 36 percent. Expect a career-high in snaps from Williams this fall. 

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