More Sports:

October 13, 2016

Eagles report cards after four games: Defense edition

Eagles NFL
101316BrandonGraham Chris Szagola/AP

Brandon Graham is having the best season of his career, by far.

The Philadelphia Eagles are a quarter of the way through their first season under Doug Pederson, and are off to a surprising 3-1 start. Now feels like a good time to grade the Eagles' first quarter performances, individually.

Here are our offensive grades, in case you missed them.

DE Brandon Graham: A

We showed at length the effect Brandon Graham has had on opposing offenses so far this season. We can all stop talking about Earl Thomas and Jason Pierre-Paul at this point, and just appreciate Graham for the really good player he has become.

MORE ON THE EAGLES: Redskins could be without best offensive weapon Sunday vs. Eagles | Carson Wentz leaves a big tip for a fan at his alma mater | DeSean Jackson open to return to the Eagles in free agency | Week 6 NFL picks | Eagles power ranking roundup: Birds tumble | Film breakdown: Did Wentz make the right throw on game-ending interception vs. Lions?

DT Fletcher Cox: A

Cox was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. He most certainly has not slacked off since receiving a lucrative contract extension this offseason,\ and is a piece the Eagles can build around for the next decade.

DT Bennie Logan: B+

Logan has two sacks, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and a huuuuuge blocked field goal on the Steelers' opening drive Week 3. The Eagles drafted Logan to be a two-gapping 3-4 NT, but he has adjusted well to Jim Schwartz's attack-style defense, and is a big reason for the Eagles success against the run.

DE Connor Barwin: C-

Barwin has done a good job setting the edge in the run game along the Eagles' defensive line, but as a pass rusher, he has not been much of a factor at all. On the season, Barwin has just five tackles and one sack, despite getting the highest number of snaps among the Eagles' defensive linemen.

DE Vinny Curry: B-

As usual, Curry isn't getting as much use as he should, although part of that may be because the Eagles don't want Curry in on run downs. Curry was a little banged-up to begin the season, but he got good pressure against the Lions in limited snaps.

DE Marcus Smith: C-

He has a tackle, and it was for a loss too!

...on 42 snaps.

..which means his production is up 4000 percent.

DT Beau Allen: C+

There's a noticeable difference when Allen enters the game for Cox or Logan, which is understandable. Allen is a good backup, but that's probably his ceiling.

DT Destiny Vaeao: C+

Vaeao made a huge play on his sack/fumble of Jay Cutler in the Bears game, but has otherwise been little more than a snap eater for Fletcher Cox, whenever he needs a breather.

LB Jordan Hicks: B+

While Hicks hasn't yet made the splash plays that he did in his rookie season a year ago, he has been excellent in coverage in the middle of the Eagles' defense.

LB Nigel Bradham: A-

Bradham was a lesser-publicized signing by the Eagles this offseason, but he has turned out to be a very good football player, "dumbass" or not. Bradham was all over the field in the second half of the Lions game, collecting three tackles for loss. For a guy who allegedly assaulted a cabana boy over an umbrella and didn't know he had a loaded gun in his carry-on at the airport, Bradham has shown to be a smart, instinctual player.

Mychal Kendricks: F

Just go here.

Stephen Tulloch: C+

Tulloch seems to be as advertised. He's good enough against the run, but you do not want him covering running backs or tight ends in the passing game.

CB Leodis McKelvin: C+

There are some who feel that Jalen Mills is better than McKelvin. I couldn't disagree more. McKelvin hasn't often been healthy, but when he has, he has been the Eagles' best cover corner. That said, the Eagles need to upgrade their corners this offseason.

CB Nolan Carroll: C+

Carroll is essentially what he was a year ago – a competent No. 2 corner who works hard, won't often be beaten deep, and is good in run support. However, he has given up a lot of passes underneath and has been flagged for three pass interference calls so far this season.

Slot CB Ron Brooks: C

Again, the Eagles could search for help across the board at corner this offseason, as Brooks has struggled in coverage.

CB Jalen Mills: C

I had two concerns about Jalen Mills when he was drafted:

  1. He wasn't exactly the most willing tackler at LSU.
  2. He ran a 4.61 40 at the NFL Combine, and was likely to be beaten deep by opposing receivers if he had to play on the outside.

Concern No. 1 has not been an issue, as Mills has proven to be a competitive player in the Eagles' secondary. However, concern No. 2 has indeed been an issue. As we said back in training camp, Mills is probably a slot corner only, and he is likely to struggle as long as he has to play on the outside.

S Malcolm Jenkins: A-

Jenkins has been really, really good. His numbers aren't eye-popping (although he does have an impressive four pass breakups). He lacks big plays so far this season, but he is always around the ball. The big plays will come.

S Rodney McLeod: A-

Like Bradham, McLeod was a very good free agent addition this offseason by the Eagles. McLeod leads the team with 23 tackles and two interceptions.

The final first quarter report card:

Player 1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q 
 Brandon Graham   
 Fletcher Cox   
 Bennie LoganB+    
 Connor BarwinC-    
 Vinny CurryB-   
 Marcus SmithC-    
 Beau AllenC+    
 Destiny VaeaoC+    
 Jordan HicksB+    
 Nigel BradhamA-    
 Mychal Kendricks   
 Stephen TullochC+    
 Leodis McKelvinC+    
 Nolan CarrollC+   
 Ron BrooksC   
 Jalen Mills   
 Malcolm JenkinsA-    
 Rodney McLeodA-    

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

Like Jimmy on Facebook.