May 20, 2022

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10 Philadelphia Eagles who exceeded expectations

3 min read
10 Philadelphia Eagles who exceeded expectations


With the Rams now crowned as Super Bowl champions, all 32 NFL teams will now look towards the 2022 offseason, free agency, and NFL draft.

The 9-8 Eagles were able to secure the final playoff spot in the NFC and that was thanks to several guys on both sides of the ball playing key roles down the stretch.

Even with injuries at several positions, Philadelphia was able to put up historic numbers behind a dominant offensive line and they improved leaps and bounds on defense under the guidance of Jonathan Gannon.

With several offseason subplots set to kick off in less than a month, here are 10 Eagles who exceeded expectation in 2021.

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Bradley’s still working to crack the lineup as a linebacker, but he’s become one of the NFL’s top special team’s aces after logging 23 total tackles in 15 appearances this season.

(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

A second-round pick, Dickerson didn’t get clearance to begin practice until Aug. 30, and yet the former Alabama center started 14 games in Eagles’ offensive line as a rookie right guard in 2021.

A dominant run-blocker, Dickerson logged 859 offensive snaps as a rookie and will team with Jordan Mailata to give Philadelphia a dominant guard, tackle tandem.

PFF credited Dickerson with 2 sacks allowed, 8 hits, 23, hurries.

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Edwards landed on the list because Jonathan Gannon refused to play the former undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin until relegating Eric Wilson to the bench.

Edwards finished as the team’s second-leading tackler with a career-best 130 combined tackles, 5 pass deflections, 5 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hits, and 1 fumble recovery.

He’ll enter 2022 as a starter at linebacker.

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After a down year in 2020, Elliott bounced back big-time in 2021.

A 2021 Pro Bowler, Elliott converted 30 of 33 field goals – his 90.9 percent success rate set a franchise record – and also converted all 44 of his PAT kicks to score a career-high 134 points.

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A physical presence in the secondary, Epps exceeded expectations and was the most productive safety on the roster.

Epps logged 62 total tackles, 5 passes defended, and 1 interception.

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A fifth-round pick on a team with Miles Sanders as the lead back, Gainwell was without a doubt one of the NFL’s best value picks after finishing his rookie season with 544 yards from scrimmage and 6 touchdowns. Per Reuben Frank, Gainwell is one of just two Philadelphia rookies drafted in the fifth round or later with 500+ scrimmage yards and 6+ touchdowns; the other was Calvin Williams in 1990.

According to PFF, 28% of Gainwell’s runs went for first downs or touchdowns.

(AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)

Mailata has improved every season entering the NFL and in 2021, he earned a contract extension and the title of enforcer at left tackle for Jalen Hurts.

Mailata finished this season as the NFL’s third-highest-graded tackle, with an 86.9 mark.

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A raw, and athletic sixth-round pick in 2020, Watkins made a huge jump from his rookie year, earning the role as a starter and surpassing all expectations.

Watkins caught two of seven targets for 35 yards during the 31-15 wild card loss to the Buccaneers, and during the 2021 campaign, he caught 43 of 62 targets for 647 yards and a touchdown while rushing once for three yards across 17 regular-season appearances.

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Hurts is talented and the expectation was that he’d be solid as a starter, but not many experts around the league predicted such a workload and productivity.

The second-year quarterback amassed 3,144-yards passing and 784 yards rushing to lead the Eagles in both categories.

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A second-year player out of Auburn, Driscoll saw action at guard and tackle as a rookie in 2020, and when pressed into action in relief of Brandon Brooks, he was among the highest-rated guards in the NFL when healthy.

10 Eagles who exceeded expectations during 2021 NFL season