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Better roster: Eagles' Super Bowl team or 2019?

Eliot Shorr-Parks
June 15, 2019 - 5:30 am

After an up-and-down season last season, when the Eagles seemed to only say they believed in themselves as opposed to actually believing it, their confidence is indeed back. 

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So much so that this week tight end Zach Ertz didn’t hold back when he declared this is the most talented roster he has ever played on — and he might not be wrong.  

The Eagles have a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball. So much so that you can make the argument they have the best set of skill players in the league. But are they better than the team that brought home the Lombardi Trophy back in 2017? 

That is an interesting question. Injuries and an “it” factor certainly factored into the 2017 season. Nobody thought Nick Foles would be Nick Foles before he ended up taking the team on a magical ride through the playoffs. 

So without knowing what surprises this season might have in store, for better or worse, here is a comparison of the 2017 Eagles vs. the 2019 Eagles roster. 

Quarterback: 

2017: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld 

2019: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson

Analysis: The quarterback position might be the biggest difference between the Eagles’ roster in 2017 and the 2019 version. Even before he took the team on a ride to the Super Bowl, Foles was a veteran starter with plenty of experience in the NFL and a playoff game under his belt. Sudfeld might also be able to take the Eagles on a surprise if needed, but he doesn’t bring the same kind of experience or confidence that Foles did. Plus, the Eagles had Sudfeld in 2017.  The Eagles’ 2017 roster wins this position in a land slide. 

Edge: 2017 

Running Back:

2017: LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, Jay Ajayi 

2019: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement 

Analysis: This one is close, and how Miles Sanders ends up turning out could be the difference. Looking on paper right now, however, the edge has to go to 2017. The Eagles had two proven studs inn Blount and Ajayi, plus a healthy Clement — not to mention Darren Sproles for a small portion of the season. Howard and Blount might be essentially the same, but Ajayi gets the edge over Sanders, especially since the rookie has missed the entire offseason workout program due to an injury. 

Edge: 2017 

Wide Receiver:

2017: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor 

2019: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor 

Analysis: When people discuss how much better the Eagles roster is this season than it was in 2017, they are really just talking about the addition of Jackson. The speedy receiver could very well end up being good enough to be a huge difference maker. He has certainly looked the part in OTAs and already seems to have great chemistry with Wentz. Jackson’s speed will always be the first thing people talk about, but his route-running and hands don’t get enough credit. Jackson should be a huge upgrade over Smith. 

Edge: 2019

Tight End:

2017: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton

2019: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers

Analysis: This is a close one. There is an argument to be made that the Eagles’ tight ends in 2017 were deeper, as Burton was a far better third tight end than Rodgers currently is. Ertz is a better player than he was back in 2017, and Goedert gets the edge over Celek, who was at the end of his career. If Goedert takes the leap everyone expects him to, the 2019 group could end up being considerably better, with way more top-end talent than the 2017 roster. 

Edge: 2019

Offensive Line:

2017: Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai  

2019: Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Andre Dillard

Analysis: The offensive lines are essentially the same, with the addition of Andre Dillard really being the only main difference. So why does 2017 get the edge? To start, everyone on the line was young —and that matters for players like Peters and Kelce. Also, Brooks was still healthy, and not recovering from a torn Achilles. Both lines are great, but 2017 gets the nod. 

Edge: 2017 

Defensive Line: 

2017: Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Beau Allen 

2019: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Timmy Jernigan

Analysis: If the quarterback position is the biggest difference between the two teams, than the defensive line is the second. The Eagles’ defensive end position is not as good on paper now as it was in 2017. The loss of Long is a big one and Curry has to prove he is still the player that left in 2017 and not the one that was injured in Tampa Bay. The addition of Jackson helps the pass rush, but Allen is a better backup defensive tackle than any that the Eagles have right now. Injuries play a major factor in this group, as Cox, Barnett and Jernigan are all coming off of major injuries — which they weren’t in 2017. 

Edge: 2017

Linebacker: 

2017: Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks

2019: Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown, Kamu Grugier-Hill 

Analysis: Hicks didn’t play in the Super Bowl, but he was on the roster and was playing well before going down with an injury. It is easy to forget, but Kendricks played at a high level once he took over for Hicks. The two units are very close, and Brown could end up being a steal, but for now the 2017 roster gets the nod at linebacker as well.  

Edge: 2017

Secondary:

2017: Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Patrick Robinson, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod

2019: Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Avonte Maddox, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod

Analysis: Like the offensive line, the group in the secondary is essentially the same. The only difference is nickel cornerback, which is why the 2017 roster gets the nod. Maddox has a ton of potential, but Robinson played at an elite level in 2017 and was arguably the best nickel cornerback in the NFL. 

Edge: 2017

Overall: Of the eight positions, 2017 has the edge in six of them -- and has the better roster overall.  

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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