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August 11, 2023

What they're saying: Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce are on 'Mount Rushmore' of offensive linemen

From Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson to being the best at their respective position to Jalen Hurts' fantasy supremacy and more, here's what the national media is saying about the Eagles.

The Eagles are just a day away from their preseason opener on Saturday down in Baltimore against the Ravens. We have all your local coverage of the Birds here at PhillyVoice, from "Hurts Watch" to training camp game balls and practice notes. As the pre-preseason ends, however, I want to take stock of what the national media is saying about the Birds. 

Let's take a peek...

Mount Rushmore

Trench Warfare | Brandon Thorn

In offensive lineman guru Brandon Thorn's annual OL rankings, he gives his top-15 players at every spot along the line. Unsurprisingly, Lane Johnson and Kelce came in at No. 1 in the right tackle and center rankings, respectively. In Thorn's writeup about Johnson, he says both Kelce and Johnson are on the Mount Rushmore of currently offensive line:

Along with Trent Williams, Zack Martin and teammate Jason Kelce Johnson is on the Mt. Rushmore of current offensive linemen. With a sensational blend of length, athletic ability and football intelligence, Johnson has gotten to the place where the spectacular look routine. When players combine top-tier talent with an advanced understanding of the game it allows them to play faster than everyone else which is what we are seeing on a weekly basis from Johnson. [Trench Warfare/$]

As for the other Eagles linemen, Thorn ranks Jordan Mailata 11th among left tackles, coming in his "Good/Above Average" tier. Landon Dickerson is sixth in Thorn's left guard list, falling in the "Very Good" tier. No Eagles player is in the right guard after the turnover this offseason, but I wouldn't be surprised if Cam Jurgens cracks Thorn's list come 2024. 

Blast from the Past

The Athletic | Mike Sando

Mike Sando dropped his annual survey of quarterback rankings recently that had Hurts coming in No. 6, falling outside of his "Tier 1" category. That was the 10th edition of Sando's list. To celebrate that milestone, Sando did a composite ranking across this past decade using the median of the average QB ratings for a whole host of players. Two Eagles made that list. They're two QBs who will be forever intertwined: Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. 

Both came in Sando's "Tier 3" with Wentz falling at No. 18 and Foles at No. 26. I get this isn't a straight-up ranking and there's a methodology behind this, but Jameis Winston being two spots ahead of Foles is pretty funny. 


The Ringer

When it comes to fantasy football, however, Hurts takes the top spot. Over at The Ringer, they've revealed their 2023 fantasy football rankings. Jalen Hurts is the 20th player overall on their list and their No. 1 quarterback, writing that Hurts has "perhaps the highest ceiling and highest floor of any player every single week." Continuing on, the Ringer staff said, "So often in fantasy we choose between floor and ceiling. With Hurts, you don't have to choose." 

For PhillyVoice's own fantasy QB rankings, Evan Macy ranked Hurts as QB3 behind Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. I'd lean Mahomes being QB1 with Hurts ahead of Allen as QB2. 

A Pretty Penny | Kevin Patra

In a new list on, Around the NFL scribe Kevin Patra discussed 10 one-year contracts signed this past offseason that will pay off during the 2023 season. New Eagles running back Rashaad Penny is No. 6 on his rankings. Here's what Patra had to say about Penny:

When healthy, Penny is a home run hitting force, averaging 5.7 yards per carry in his five-year career. The 27-year-old can gash defenses and hit another gear at the second level. If healthy, he's the best early-down option on the Eagles roster and meshes well with the Philly run game. Of course, injuries are the reason Philly got him for close to the veteran minimum salary. He's never stayed healthy for an entire season and appeared in 18 games the past three years combined, including five in 2022 before a broken leg ended his season. Most players battle Father Time. Penny wrestles Uncle Injury. The Eagles plan to have a committee at running back, but IF he stays healthy, Penny could be the difference-maker in a postseason run. []

Penny is the team's best pure runner, but how the Eagles' running back usage this season will turn out is still murky.  On Wednesday, I wrote that the Birds have been using Kenny Gainwell as their go-to early down running back in camp, as he's received the vast majority of the first-team offense carries and reps overall. D'Andre Swift is the best pass-catcher of any of the Eagles' backs and that talent has been on display that summer, too. 

Penny has seen fewer practices reps that I expected thus far, particularly with the first-team O. Maybe they're playing things safe with Penny's well-established injury history, but from what I've seen day in and day out, I would not bank on Penny being the Birds' No. 1 rusher, at least to begin this season. The Eagles would be wise to limit Penny's touches until the stretch run and playoffs. They're not going to need him to get to the postseason. They might need his help to win the Super Bowl though.

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