The Eagles don’t have another scheduled practice until the end of July and free agency seems to have ended for the club. Barring any unforeseen news, we won’t hear from the team for at least a month. So while we have some down-time, it’s time to grade out the best Eagles at each position over the last two decades. The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the winningest teams in football over the last 20 years with two Super Bowl appearances, one title, and six conference championship appearances.
Today, we judge the defensive line for the Eagles.
5. Corey Simon
The 6th overall pick of the Eagles back in 2000, Simon helped transform the Eagles from one of the worst team’s in football, to one of the best defenses in league history. Simon placed third in the defensive rookie of the year voting, and made a pro bowl in 2003.
Simon was overshadowed by some of the greatest interior defensive lineman of the age. While not like Warren Sapp or Kevin Williams, Simon was a very dependable pass rusher, notching over 32 sacks in a five year window. For reference, Fletcher Cox, a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer, totaled 36 sacks in his best five year window in Philadelphia.
Simon’s tenure in Philadelphia ended in a disappointment, however at his best, he was one of the best lineman of the last few decades.
4. Hugh Douglas
Pop Quiz. There are only two defensive linemen for the Eagles that have been named to the 1st Team All-Pro group. One was Fletcher Cox.
The other? Hugh Douglas.
Douglas was a dominating force in Philadelphia. After being traded to the team in 1998 for a 2nd and 5th round pick, Douglas tallied 51.5 sacks in his five years in Philadelphia. Only Trent Cole has more than him since the 2000’s.
Douglas was a former defensive rookie of the year and was an important role player for the Eagles late runs of the 2000’s.
3. Brandon Graham
You can argue that this is too low for one of the great personalities in team history, but I think this is a perfect spot for him. He was never as dominant as Hugh Douglas was in a five year stretch, and it took him a while to even show he was worth a first round pick.
However, once the scheme matched the talent, Brandon Graham flourished. He’s still one of the best run defenders in football and is the heartbeat of the Eagles defense.
His forced fumble on Tom Brady in Super Bowl LII is the greatest play in Eagles history (Philly Special doesn’t come close) and he is absolutely deserving of being on this list.
2. Trent Cole
As a pass rusher, Trent Cole is far better than Brandon Graham. Graham has the playoff moments that certainly help him, but Cole was the more consistent player over his entire career.
After 10 seasons in Philadelphia, where he was a second-team all-pro selection and a two-time pro bowler, Cole notched 85.5 sacks. Graham is entering year 12 and he has only 59.
I love Graham, but Cole was the better player. In his best five year stretch, Cole tallied 55 sacks from 2007-2011. It also must be accounted that while Graham has played with a hall-of-famer in Cox, Cole was really the only consistent pass rusher the team had for a long time.
Cole is rightfully on this list.
1. Fletcher Cox
Aaron Donald is the greatest defensive player of his generation. For a six year window, Cox was the second best defensive tackle in the league and it went unquestioned.
Fletcher Cox has been to six pro-bowls and was a first-team All-Pro in one year, and a 3x second team All-Pro player. He was also a member of the 2010’s All-Decade team. Fletcher Cox is one of the greatest interior defensive lineman in Eagles history.
His five year stretch from 2014-2018 saw Cox emerge as one of the league’s best players in all of football. While Cox’s future may be in doubt after 2022, the defensive tackle is heading to Canton no matter where his career ends.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire