The 10 most underrated people in the Eagles organization

This isn’t about Jalen Hurts or Darius Slay. It’s not about Nick Sirianni or Jonathan Gannon. It’s not about Jeffrey Lurie or Howie Roseman.

Today we celebrate some of the lesser-known players, coaches, coaches and scouts who helped the Eagles go 9-1.

Some of the names will be familiar, others might not, but they all rank among our top 10 most underrated people in the Eagles organization.

TJ Edwards: The once-undrafted special teamer has developed into a better linebacker in all four NFL seasons, and he’s quietly playing elite football at middle linebacker this year. Pro Football Focus ranks him the No. 3 linebacker in the entire NFL (behind multiple Pro Bowlers Bobby Wagner and Tremaine Edmunds). Edwards has always been a strong tackler, but he has made significant strides in blitz and cover. With apologies to Mike Reichenbach, the best undrafted linebacker to ever play for the Eagles.

Markus Epps: Like Edwards, Epps didn’t make many splash plays, but he provided the Eagles with incredibly consistent safety play in his first year as a full-time starter. Like Edwards, Epps worked his way into defense after beginning his career as a longshot special teamer. Epps was originally the 6th place finisher of the 2019 VikingsthBut he’s played more and more defense every year and is now a smart, hard-hitting, solid force on the No. 2 NFL defense. Like Edwards, he’s not committed for 2023, and like Edwards, Howie Roseman will likely fix that at some point.

Max Gruder: Gruder, 33, who was once a linebacker at Pitt, is the Eagles’ director of pro scouting, which means he oversees the department that researches and recommends current NFL players — including free agents like James Bradberry and AJ Brown, Trade targets like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson or unsigned veterans like Linval Joseph or Ndamukong Suh – to Howie Roseman. Gruder worked his way up through the Dolphins’ scouting department for six years after college before joining the Eagles in 2019 as Assistant Director of Pro Scouting.

Brian Johnson: The Eagles quarterbacks coach has a fantastic relationship with Jalen Hurts, dating back to Johnson’s days as a high school quarterback in Texas, playing for Hurts’ father. Johnson came to Philly with a full resume — the most successful quarterback in Utah history, worked with Dak Prescott at Mississippi State, coached Heisman Trophy finalist Kyle Trask in Florida — and has worked wonders with Hurts, sharing his remarkable development into a the NFL’s top oversight quarterback in his sophomore year as a starter. Johnson has never been an NFL coordinator but could still be a sought-after head-coaching candidate this spring.

Zech McPhearson: It hasn’t been a particularly good year for Michael Clay and the Eagles’ special teams, but McPhearson, a 4thth-Round pick from Texas Tech, excelled as a contributor in every special teams unit. McPhearson, a backup cornerback, has played 200 special teams snaps — that’s 79 percent of the Eagles’ special teams snaps — and has earned a dazzling 85.8 grade from Pro Football Focus, 4th-highest among all cornerbacks in the league playing against special teams. McPhearson remains a promising cornerback, but as long as Slay and James Bradberry are healthy, he won’t come on the field on defense. But he’s made a huge impact on special teams throughout the year.

Zach Pascal: He’s been targeted just 13 times all year, but Pascal plays 31 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps because he’s such a valuable all-around player. He’s a tough and willing blocker, he’s a smart and selfless leader, and he’s a reliable receiver when the ball comes his way. Pascal has caught 11 of 13 goals for 123 yards and a touchdown. One of those guys whose contributions can never be measured by statistics.

Anthony patch: Patch, one of the longest-serving employees in the entire Eagles organization, originally joined the Eagles’ scouting team in 2001 under Tom Heckert, with whom he had worked in Miami. Patch has worked with the Eagles for more than two decades, from a West Coast scout to assistant director of college scouting to director of college scouting to executive search consultant and, since 2016, to senior director of college scouting. Working with personalities as diverse as Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Tom Heckert, Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson and Nick Sirianni is doing something right. Patch is a fixture in an ever-changing industry and remains a valued voice in the Eagles’ scouting department.

Ted Rath: A former Toledo linebacker, Rath was at the heart of the 2020 reorganization of the Eagles’ practice and rehab staff to avoid the injuries that had derailed in recent seasons. And he’s helped tremendously in that area. Rath doesn’t speak to the media and likes to keep a low profile, but judging by the number of players who unsolicited credit him for getting them in shape and overseeing their rehab, he’s a tremendously valued member of the organization.

Jake Rosenberg: Rosenberg, Howie Roseman’s most trusted assistant, has been with the Eagles since 2012 and has worked his way up from manager of football administration to director of football administration and vice president of football administration since 2018. Rosenberg, who studied Economics and International Relations at Penn, was a bond and commodity trader for 10 years before joining the Eagles and is the franchise’s foremost expert on the complexities of the CBA, salary cap and contracts. Ask Roseman an overly complicated question about a salary cap or contract details, and his response will likely be, “Ask Jake.”

Dennard Wilson: You could tell Wilson made a difference last year as the Eagles’ secondary coach. After a disastrous start, the Eagles were 8thth-Best pass defense in the NFL in meaningful games in the second half of last season. That was with Steven Nelson, Anthony Harris and Rodney McLeod. With three new starters — including one who wasn’t even here for training camp — Wilson is making the Eagles’ pass defense play at an exceptionally high level this year. The Eagles are #2 in passing yards and #1 in opposing passer ratings, and Wilson deserves a ton of credit for what we’re seeing.


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