But how does the Birds’ talent compare to teams around the league?
Each summer, Michael Lombardi of NFL.com puts out his list of blue-chip and red-chip players. Click on the link for a full explanation, but here’s the basic version: Blue-chip players are among the top-five at their position, and red-chip players are among the top 10.
When first considering it, you’d think the Eagles would have a pretty good showing on the list, specifically on offense. But you’d be wrong.
According to Lombardi, the Birds only have one offensive player among the top 10 at his position, and that’s LeSean McCoy, who earns blue-chip status.
Michael Vick is not among the top-10 quarterbacks. The top-five are Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. I don’t think you’d find many who’d argue that Vick belongs in that group right now. But what about the red-chippers? Lombardi’s got Cam Newton, Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford.
Vick was a red-chipper on last year’s list, but didn’t make the cut this time around.
The Eagles were shut out at wide receiver too, and keep in mind that Lombardi went with 15 red-chippers in this category. I don’t think anyone would argue that DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin are among the top-five receivers in football, but you could certainly make the case for them in the second group, which includes Buffalo’s Steve Johnson and the Saints’ Marques Colston. Lombardi named Jackson a red-chipper in 2011, but he’s been bumped for now.
Perhaps the Eagles player who was left off and most deserves to be on as a red-chipper is Brent Celek. Celek finished seventh among tight ends last year with 811 yards, tied for sixth in plays of 20+ yards (14), 11th in receptions (62) and first in yards after the catch. He’s also made great strides as a blocker and has never missed a game in five NFL seasons.
Here are the red-chip tight ends listed ahead of him: Jacksonville’s Marcedes Lewis, Tennessee’s Jared Cook, Detroit’s Brandon Pettigrew, Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley and San Diego’s Antonio Gates.
And finally, the offensive line. Jason Peters would be mentioned if he were healthy. Lombardi had him as a red-chipper last year, although he would almost certainly deserve blue-chip status after a terrific 2011 campaign. Evan Mathis was considered, but ultimately left off. And Jason Kelce was not among Lombardi’s top-10 centers. That’s one that could change by next summer.
So, what do you think? Do any of the Eagles players left off deserve to be on? And which of them will make the leap in 2012?
Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.