Some of my favorite players on the Eagles will not be with them in 2015, meaning I need to update my mental list of my favorite players on the actual roster. They’ve made so many moves that it’s hard to pick (since it would be weird to pick players who haven’t even played a down for them yet), but this is my attempt at making a list. A few of my least favorite players have also left the team, including the starting cornerback duo of Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams. This is in no way an attempt at something actually newsworthy, but it definitely can spur debate. I will first begin with my top five least favorite players, in reverse order.
Least favorite Eagles
5. OG Dennis Kelly
Clearly, many of my least favorite players on the team have left for me to choose Kelly as one of my least favorite guys, but I had to pick someone. Kelly started a slew of games a in the past few years as a backup offensive lineman, but he’s been essentially a terrible player. I don’t have Pro Football Focus and therefore can’t look up his actual grade, but he was one of the reasons why their offensive line struggled. And yet he’s still on the team. I don’t hate him, but I’d much prefer to see him on a different team.
4. LB Marcus Smith
It may seem unfair to hate a player just because he was a bust, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. Smith was easily the worst first round pick of 2014 after not recording a single tackle all season. It’s not really his fault he was taken that high in the draft, but when you’re taken in the first round, you better play like it. Tra Thomas, a former assistant coach of the Eagles, said Smith has the build of a high school athlete and isn’t tough. Wow. That’s not at ALL what I want to hear about a linebacker of all positions. Please get him off this team, unless he can miraculously turn his career around.
3. WR Jeff Maehl
I honestly believe the only reason Maehl ever made the roster was because he went to Oregon while Chip Kelly was there. He is absolutely nothing special and didn’t even outshine against a bunch of backups in preseason last year. Yet he beat out guys like Arrelious Benn and Damaris Johnson who deserved the job more than him. I have no problem with Kelly bringing in Oregon guys if they’re great players, but Maehl, who excelled in college because, well, it was college, is not good. Since he was an exclusive rights free agent, I guess that means he’s still on the team, but he shouldn’t be a lock to make the team coming training camp.
2. QB Matt Barkley
What’s to like about Barkley? This is a guy who, had he declared for the draft after his junior year, was being looked at as a possible number one overall pick in the draft. He ended up being the first pick…in the fourth round. And oh yeah, he’s been terrible since entering the NFL. Luckily he only had one pass attempt last year, but in his career, he has four interceptions, three fumbles and zero touchdowns. I’ll let that speak for itself.
1. WR Riley Cooper
Nobody liked Cooper after the incident where he used a racial slur at that concert. He had three forgettable seasons to start his career before being named a starter in 2013, where he was the worst receiver in the first half of the year. He bounced back and had a great second half of the year with Nick Foles at quarterback, but then he ranked as the worst receiver in the league for the whole 2014 season. Sounds kind of familiar, right? And Chip Kelly gave him a big contract instead of Jeremy Maclin. Hmmm…
Now that I’ve gotten all the negativity out of the way, let’s take a look at my favorite players on the team, a much easier list to compile.
5. K Cody Parkey
Parkey came onto the team and immediately became a fan favorite after beating out Alex Henery, who was easily the opposite of a fan favorite. “LoveParkey” became a hashtag and he was hitting field goals left and right. He became a Pro Bowl kicker in just his first season in the NFL. He first gained his full love after he hit the game-winning field goal to beat none other than his former team, the Colts. That was one of the best moments of the 2014 season.
4. DE Vinny Curry
Curry is quietly one of the best players on this team. He had nine sacks and four forced fumbles last year despite not even starting. He could definitely start for a different team, although I really wonder what he could do on a 4-3 team as a passing rusher. He would wreak havoc.
3. OG Evan Mathis
Pretty much everyone can agree that Mathis is one of the most well-liked players on the team. It’s really unfortunate that there are trade rumors this year, but they happened last year and nothing came of them, so I’m hoping the same thing happens. Whether it’s a clever tweet to get the fans riled up or a funny comment, he’s always doing the right thing. And oh yeah, he’s an All-Pro guard too. Great player.
2. TE Brent Celek
I have always had a soft spot for tight ends. After playing tight end for a couple years in my glory years as a football player (yes, that’s peewee football I’m talking about), I’ve always liked the position. My first Eagles jersey was a Chad Lewis jersey and he became my favorite player. His performance the year they made the Super Bowl was amazing. I’ve always liked the way Celek has played too. He’s a hard-nosed, upbeat, team-first guy. Unless you’re a recent tight end for the Patriots, you probably fall into that category.
1. LB Connor Barwin
The way Barwin has been more vocal since the offseason starts makes me think that he’s the leader of this defense. I know DeMeco Ryans was technically the leader of the defense, but without him for a while, somebody had to step up, and I feel like Barwin did just that. He exploded last year for a second-team All-Pro performance and was one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Keep this guy an Eagle for life.
Well, this is just my list, and I’m sure both lists will change a bit as the weeks go on. Whether you agree or disagree, I’d love to hear of your favorite and least favorite players. I just wish I could make my favorite players list longer.