Pair of Birds Defenders Land On PFF All-Decade Top 101
On Monday, Pro Football Focus began their All-Decade Top 101 list and one Eagles player (as well as a former play) made the portion of the list between 101 and 74.
On Tuesday, they released the second part, featuring two more Eagles.
With 49-25 being released on Wednesday, the Birds were once again represented on the lines.
The Eagles also landed their first defenders on the list.
Cox has been arguably the most well rounded defensive tackle in the league for half of the last decade. PFF, for their part, says he has a slow start to his career. but has been second only to future Hall of Famer Aaron Donald since 2015. The fact that Donald is in the league and has flashy plays in the pass rush despite simply mediocre rush defense, plays against Cox ever getting the proper recognition for his play outside the City of Brotherly Love. Cox was a first-round pick in 2012 and while it would be remiss to say he had a slow start to his career, the young defender was simply a starting caliber player compared to the game wrecker he is now. 367 tackles, 48 sacks and 11 forced and recovered fumbles since he entered the league is also not necessarily eye catching, but Cox is routinely double-teamed and often triple-teamed when injuries hit the defensive line. A player who had a truly slow start to their career is defensive end Brandon Graham. The 2010 first-round pick bounced between defensive end and linebacker and did not see more than six starts in a season until 2015. Fans wanted him out until he became a top DE in the league and had a game-changing play in Super Bowl LII. He enters the list at 42.
PFF states that Graham has had a higher pressure rate on quarterbacks of the past 10 seasons than all but two other defensive ends.
Part of the reason that his career seemed to develop so slowly was that his raw numbers are not all too impressive, even if he is in the backfield every other play.
PFF has been a big proponent of Graham because of his ability to force rushed and/or bad throws or force the QB/RB into another defender with the pressure he creates, even if it doesn't result in a great stat line for Graham.
He is the epitome of a star player who doesn't put up the numbers that would make him a star, but whose presence makes the average players around him look like stars and the stars around him look elite.
Paul Bowman is an Eagles contributor for 97.3 ESPN and Eagles editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @PhillyBallPaul.