Philadelphia Eagles: Who has Impressed the Most Thus Far?

Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55) reacts to a stop against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 34-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55) reacts to a stop against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 34-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

After six games, the Philadelphia Eagles sit at 4-2. Given that every team in the division is over .500 currently, their fast start to the season has been crucial. We look at the 5 Eagles who have impressed the most thus far.

This season has already felt like a wild rollercoaster ride for the Philadelphia Eagles. Starting 3-0 and thrashing the Steelers gave the fan base real reason for excitement, but 2 disappointing losses to the Lions and Redskins curbed much of the enthusiasm the season started with. But after the win against the undefeated Vikings, there is renewed excitement with this team. We look at the five Eagles who have played the biggest roles in shaping this 4-2 squad.

1) Fletcher Cox

There won’t be many people that dispute that Cox is the best player on this team. But after signing that six-year, $102 million contract extension this summer, a contract that at the time was the richest ever in NFL history for a non-QB, there were a few skeptics if he was truly worth that much. His performances this season have quickly confirmed his value.

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While four sacks in six games for a defensive tackle is already impressive, everything Cox does won’t show on the stat sheet. The Eagles are tied for 2nd in the league in sacks as a team with 20 in six games, and much of that can be credited to Cox occupying multiple blockers to free up other members of the front seven. Cox is certainly looking like money well spent, despite the enormous figure.

2) Carson Wentz

Probably the most obvious inclusion on the list, Carson Wentz has exceeded expectations through his first six games. It wasn’t even certain he would be getting any playing time this season until early September, and Wentz has certainly repaid the Eagles coaching staff and Howie Roseman in their confidence in him.

After starting 3-0 with zero turnovers, Eagles fans became a bit spoiled in their expectations of the rookie QB. While he has come back to earth the last three games, Wentz has looked extremely poised and mature well beyond his years. Even with this extremely average (at best) receiving core, Wentz has displayed the utmost confidence in them so far. It will be fascinating to see how he deals with the next two opponents, the Cowboys and Giants both on the road.

3) Brandon Graham

If there’s one player who’s benefited the most from Jim Schwartz’ arrival as defensive coordinator, it’s been Brandon Graham. Since the inception of the 4-3 defense in Philly, Graham has looked like the best defensive end on the team. After five QB hurries and a sack against the Vikings, Graham is already only 2.5 sacks short of his career-high for a season, which was 6.5 sacks last season as a linebacker. It’s clear that Graham thrives as a defensive end, and the presence of Fletcher Cox hasn’t hurt either. The University of Michigan product is undergoing a renaissance, and it’s coming at the perfect time for the Eagles.

4) Malcolm Jenkins

Jenkins, in his 3rd season with the team, has been nothing short of an integral part of the Eagles defense since he joined from New Orleans. While he’s not necessarily a Brian Dawkins-type figure, he sure isn’t far off. Jenkins, who’s as much of a beast against the run as he is defending through the air, has been huge this season for the Eagles so far, particularly in the last two games. After a solid game against Washington that included a 64-yard interception returned for a touchdown, Jenkins followed up against Minnesota with a typical performance from him.

After lock down play at safety, Jenkins moved to slot corner after Ron Brooks went down with his season-ending injury. Jenkins locked down any receiver the Vikings tried to put in the slot, thus showing his immense value and versatility to this defense. His leadership is something the Eagles were starving for in the gap between him and Dawkins, and he looks to have filled that void.

5)  Nigel Bradham

Despite his well-documented questionable character, Nigel Bradham has been a very solid addition to this Eagles front seven. Already with 32 tackles, a sack, and an interception, Bradham has clearly been the better of the two OLB’s with Mychal Kendricks still struggling to impress.

Aggressive, smart, and very athletic, Bradham has shown the ability to blow up run plays in the backfield and equally adeptly drop back in the pass and cover TE’s and some WR’s. The Eagles must be wary of any possible discipline from the league as more unfolds regarding his arrest at a Miami airport for a weapons charge. Barring he stays on the field, he will be a key piece if this team has true playoff aspirations.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles: Ron Brooks Out, Aaron Grymes In?

For a 4-2 football team that could very well be 6-0, this Eagles team isn’t loaded with studs. Doug Pedersen has done very well at getting everyone to buy into their roles, and it’s showing with some impressive contributions from the team as a whole. If they can keep these five guys healthy and out of trouble, there’s no reason why this team can’t win 10 games and grab a playoff spot.