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Philadelphia Eagles: Top 5 players 25 and under

The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to make another deep playoff run. Their 2017 Super Bowl seems like a distant memory, but there’s enough talent available for another push this upcoming season.

A significant reason for that expectation is the team’s young, ascending talents who have a chance to take a sizable leap in 2019. Some of those players will be bouncing back from an injury, while others will be continuing their development or taking snaps in the NFL for the first time.

Below is a list of the top 5 players either at or under the age of 25 for the Philadelphia Eagles.

5. Andre Dillard | Offensive Tackle

2018 stats: N/A

PFF grade (2018): N/A

At this point, we don’t know whether or not offensive tackle Andre Dillard will be a success at the NFL level. We do know, however, that the rookie first-round pick out of Washington State has all the tools you look for at the position.

Dillard is a superb athlete with a smooth pass set. In fact, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound lineman was arguably the best pass protector in the 2019 draft class. While he’s not as efficient as a run stopper, he’s more than capable of being a plus-player in that area as well.

More than likely, Dillard won’t be asked to play significant snaps in 2018. At 37 years old, current starter Jason Peters is the oldest player on the roster. He has managed to stay healthy outside of 2017, but at his age, a backup plan needs to be in place. That’s why Dillard’s presence could be critical.

If everything goes according to plan, Dillard will make a move up this list in the future.

4. Rasul Douglas | Cornerback

2018 stats: 58 tackles, 6.0 TFL, 3 INTs

PFF grade (2018): 72.5 (No. 30 CB)

From a physical standpoint, Rasul Douglas is the most impressive cornerback on the roster. At 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, he’s got plenty of length to hold his own on the outside against some of the league’s taller receivers.

What makes Douglas stand out ⁠— well, besides his size ⁠— is his ability as a run-defending cornerback. Pro Football Focus graded the former third-rounder as the No. 13 cornerback in the NFL when it comes to stopping the run (84.5 grade).

At only 23 years old, Douglas is still an ascending talent on the roster. The cornerback group is littered with young talents such as Ronald Darby (No. 2 on this list), Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc in the fold, but Douglas is still a valuable piece.

3. Derek Barnett | Defensive End

2018 stats: 16 tackles, 5.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 11 QB hits

PFF grade (2018): 67.5 (N/A)

Derek Barnett was the Philadelphia Eagles’ first-round pick back in 2017, but he still hasn’t been unleashed as a full-time starter. There were signs of a potential breakout last season (2.5 sacks in four games), but a torn rotator cuff ended any chance of that happening.

Now, the edge rusher out of Tennessee will have a chance to grow into a major contributor. At 6-foot-3, 259 pounds, Barnett has a skill set that could allow him to be an impact player against the run and pass. In fact, Pro Football Focus had run defense grade at 76.4, which ranked him as the No. 23 edge player in that category.

While he’s still under the radar according to a lot of people outside of Philadelphia, Barnett has a chance to become a top-tier defensive end ⁠— if he can stay healthy.

2. Ronald Darby | Cornerback

2018 stats: 43 tackles, 1 INT, 12 PBU

PFF grade (2018): 70.6 (No. 43 CB)

Ronald Darby has a chance to become a top-tier cornerback in the NFL. The problem is that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy since the Buffalo Bills shipped him to Philadelphia prior to the 2017 season.

Out of a possible 32 regular season games over the last two years, Darby has missed almost half (15) of them. That’s not going to get it done if Darby wants a long-term contract commitment.

The team did bring Darby back on a one-year, $8.5 million prove-it deal back in March. But considering he’s coming off a torn ACL, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be at full health in 2019.

When he’s been on the field for the Philadelphia Eagles, Darby has been a reliable playmaker ⁠— three interceptions in only eight games in 2017. It’s a matter of staying on the field.

1. Dallas Goedert | Tight End

2018 stats: 33 receptions, 334 yards, 4 TDs

PFF grade (2018): 75.5 (No. 5 TE)

Dallas Goedert is only heading into his second year in the NFL. But the former FCS talent out of South Dakota State managed to do enough during Year 1 to land himself at the top of this list.

Yes, it’s true that Zach Ertz is still the No. 1 tight end with the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s also true that he’s still relatively young (28 years old) and produces at an elite level (116 receptions, 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns). But it’s also possible for there to be two top-tier tight ends on the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster.

Like Ertz, Goedert is a balanced tight end who’s capable of providing an impact in several different ways. He’s an efficient run-blocker while also being a reliable pass-catcher, especially in the red zone.

Clint Lamb is a writer for PFN covering the NFC East. You can follow him on Twitter @ClintRLamb.

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