Eagles: PFF cites T.J. Edwards as the team’s most underrated player

On Thursday, Pro Football Focus took a crack at listing every NFL team’s most underrated player. For the Eagles, they cited linebacker T.J. Edwards as the team’s most underrated player.

Their reasoning:

Edwards has been underrated for virtually his entire playing career. A star at Wisconsin, he posted elite PFF grades but was a marginal and undersized athlete, causing him to go undrafted in 2019. From there, he had to earn his spot by excelling on special teams, in the preseason and then eventually in the regular season. At every step along the way, Edwards earned good PFF grades and is now a capable starter. In 2021, he earned a 75.5 overall PFF grade, putting in at least above-average marks in every facet of linebacker play. Edwards is walking proof that players can still thrive in the NFL without elite physical tools.

Ever since entering the league in 2019 as an undrafted rookie, Edwards has contributed in some capacity. He was a mainstay on special teams, racking up 30 combined tackles while missing only 3.2% of his attempts. Edwards started four games that year as well, but only saw 112 total defensive snaps, just about 12% of the snap share. Nevertheless, Edwards posted an elite PFF grade in his first season, ending the year with a 83.4 mark.

In his sophomore campaign, Edwards showed some flashes and got more playing time as a result, logging 59% of the team’s defensive snaps. Then in 2021, Edwards became the unquestioned starter at linebacker in the latter half of the season, racking up 130 combined tackle, second-most on the team. He also accumulated five tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and five pass defensed.

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He scored above average marks in every major category for linebackers on PFF. His overall grade (75.5) ranked 10th among 87 qualifying backers. His best mark was in run defense, where Edwards finished the year with a 76.6 grade, good for ninth among linebackers. Even his coverage grade was solid, posting a 68.9 mark there, ranking 12th among 80 qualifying linebackers.

Entering the 2022 season, Edwards suddenly has some competition in the linebackers room. Kyzir White and Nakobe Dean were added this offseason, and third-year backer Davion Taylor has taken steps towards becoming a starter in the near future. While Edwards doesn’t have the physical traits of Taylor or White, he and Dean share the same type of intelligence and nose for the football that separates the below average linebackers from the good ones.

Edwards should continue to get the majority of early down snaps in 2022, along with Dean. While White and perhaps Taylor take over in clear passing situations.

The good news is, the Eagles actually have flexibility at the linebacker position now. Something they haven’t had in quite some time. Edwards will continue to be a mainstay in Jonathan Gannon’s defense, but he won’t be asked to do every. Which is a good thing at the end of the day.

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