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Running the Numbers: Breaking Down the Eagles’ Rookies
The Philadelphia Eagles have been outstanding as evaluators of talent under head coach Andy Reid, continually finding superb rookies to replace veterans. For the majority of Reid’s tenure, the Eagles have never really been in rebuilding mode; 2012 aside, they’ve always been competitive.
On Sunday, the Cowboys will face a handful of faces that are new to Philadelphia. One of those will be Nick Foles, a quarterback the Cowboys really introduced to the world when they knocked Michael Vick out of the game in the teams’ first matchup. In addition to Foles, the ’Boys have already seen cornerback Brandon Boykin, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and linebacker Mychal Kendricks.
One player with whom Dallas is relatively unfamiliar, and one who could potentially give them problems this week, is rookie running back Bryce Brown. Brown erupted for 189 total yards and two touchdowns on Monday night, displaying a size/speed combo that makes you wonder how he slipped to the seventh round. The Eagles might be rolling out these rookies sooner than they anticipated, but there’s a good chance the Cowboys will need to continue to deal with them over the next few seasons.
- QB Nick Foles
65.3: Foles’ passer rating.
Foles certainly has potential, but there’s no doubt that he’s struggling right now. The third-round pick out of Arizona has completed only 59.6 percent of his passes for 5.5 yards per attempt (YPA).
49.8: Foles’ passer rating when blitzed.
If the Cowboys want to generate turnovers, they’ll need to put pressure on the quarterback. If you recall, defenses that reach the quarterback are far, far more likely to secure takeaways. If the Cowboys can get in Foles’ face by blitzing in obvious passing situations, the rookie will likely make some mistakes.
- RB Bryce Brown
1: Number of starts Bryce Brown has made since high school.
Prior to Monday night’s game against the Panthers, Brown’s last start came as a member of the Wichita East High School football team. He attended the University of Tennessee, where he backed up Montario Hardesty, before transferring to Kansas State. He played in only 14 collegiate games.
31.1: Brown’s Body Mass Index.
Many of you are familiar with Body Mass Index (BMI), but did you know that there’s a pretty strong correlation between BMI and running back success in the NFL? Historically, great running backs have tended to be somewhat short and very stocky, packing a ton of muscle onto frames with a low center of gravity. Emmitt Smith (31.7 BMI), LaDainian Tomlinson (31.7 BMI), Barry Sanders (30.9 BMI), and Marshall Faulk (30.3 BMI) all had body types similar to Brown’s.
4.48: Brown’s 40-yard dash time.
Brown’s body type alone can’t predict his future NFL success, but his combination of size and speed sure suggests he should be an effective running back. In terms of his measurables alone, he’s very similar to Tomlinson.
6.3: Brown’s current yards per carry (YPC).
Brown has been highly efficient as a rookie, averaging 6.3 YPC on 51 attempts. That number was still respectable at 4.4 YPC prior to Monday night. That’s important because rookie rushing efficiency is highly predictive of future NFL success. Of rookies with as many carries as Brown, only four since 1980 have posted greater efficiency.
- CB Brandon Boykin
58.5: Boykin’s percent completion rate allowed.
Playing in the slot with veterans Nnamdi Asmougha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the outside, Boykin has held up pretty well in his rookie season. He’s allowed a 58.5 percent completion rate, really good for a slot cornerback, and 8.0 YPA.
- LB Mychal Kendricks
239: Kendricks’ weight.
At only 5-11 and 239 pounds, Kendricks is built for speed. It has showed in his rookie year, as the inside linebacker has allowed only 5.41 YPA in coverage. In comparison, Bruce Carter allowed 7.32 YPA before going down with a season-ending injury. Kendricks will cover tight end Jason Witten at times, so it will be interesting to see if the linebacker’s speed and quickness can make up for his lack of size.
- DT Fletcher Cox
51.1: Percentage of Eagles’ snaps played by Cox.
Cox has rotated with Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri, playing 60.1 percent of his snaps against the pass. I did a scouting report on Cox prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, noting that he was a bit raw coming out of Mississippi State. The rookie will need some time to fully develop, but his current pressure rate of 5.3 percent and tackle rate of 5.6 percent are comparable or superior to Jenkins’ 6.2 percent pressure rate and 4.0 percent tackle rate, suggesting the rookie is already on his way.