Each Sunday another 10 names are revealed on NFL Network and the following day, Peter King of Sports Illustrated unveils another 10 players on his own Top 100 list. On Sunday night, the NFL players' rankings from No. 40-31 were released. No Eagles were among the 10 players. So far, defensive end Trent Cole is No. 73 on the list. Cornerback Asante Samuel was No. 54. Quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver DeSean Jackson have yet to be announced.
However, two Eagles made King's list of the players ranked No. 40-31 and it will certainly provide some fodder for discussion. King ranked Jackson at No. 36 on his list. One spot ahead of him was Cole.
On the surface, the initial talk will surround whether each player is ranked too low on the list. Part of the arguments will come from the players who are ranked higher.
But it brings another point into question. Which player is more valuable, more integral, to the Eagles' success in 2011?
Let's start with Jackson since he was listed behind Cole. Here's the scary 2010 stat that speaks volumes. The Eagles were 7-0 when Jackson scored a touchdown last year. He didn't play in two games, which were both losses. That means the team was 3-5 in games (including playoffs) that Jackson played, but didn't score a touchdown. And it's not like Jackson scored his touchdowns in garbage time to fill up the stat sheet.
In just the road division games last year, there was the 88-yard opening play of the game touchdown against Washington. There was the 91-yard go-ahead touchdown in Dallas. And there was also some 65-yard punt return for a score as time ran out to complete the Miracle at the New Meadowlands.
When Jackson caught the ball in 2010, he averaged 22.5 yards per catch. He is essentially eating up a quarter of the football field with each reception. And Jackson had over 1,000 yards for the second straight season so it's not like he's only getting a catch or two per game.
Now, let's turn to Cole. He's the exact opposite compared to Jackson. Not only because of the fact that he plays defense, Cole is a workmanlike player who is a consistent, steady contributor. Cole is not going to explode for 3.0 sacks a game very often. Cole did have three multi-sack games in 2010 and the Eagles won two of them. In an odd stat, the Eagles were actually 7-1 when Cole did NOT get a sack. But just like Jackson's presence alone is a concern for opposing defenses, Cole's ability to play the run and durability makes him someone that must be accounted for at all times. Cole was rested for the regular season finale in 2010, but that's the only game he's missed since the 2006 season.
And King is a big fan of the addition of defensive line coach Jim Washburn. King's ranking could be based on how he thinks Cole will thrive in the new system. King had previously written that Cole could challenge for the sack title with Washburn as his mentor.
There is no question that the Eagles would be hurt if either player was not on the field. But which loss would impact the Eagles more? It's your turn to decide.