Training camp has begun and the new NFL season draws closer. With only a month until the curtain-raiser between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans, the excitement for the upcoming season grows. As part of the build-up to the 2020 season, the Last Word on Sports NFL department will be compiling a list of the 10 best players in each division heading into the 2020 campaign. This article will focus on the NFC East.
Top Players of the NFC East Heading Into 2020
1. Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox ranks as the best defensive player in the NFC East and is one of the best in his position in the entire league. The stats don’t do Cox justice as he recorded 3.5 sacks in the 2019 season but did make the Pro Bowl this past year. Cox fits perfectly in Doug Pedersen’s 4-3 defense and causes disruption whenever he’s on the field. Regarded as one of the best run stoppers in the league, Cox helped the Philadelphia Eagles to the third-best rushing defense in the 2019 season. Entering his ninth year in the NFL, Cox is a mainstay on the Eagles defensive line and is an integral piece to the Eagles franchise.
2. Zack Martin
Zack Martin has proven to be the best guard in the league in his six years in the NFL. Martin is the most reliable player on the Dallas Cowboys offensive line, starting 94 of 96 games since being drafted in 2014. Additionally, Martin is crucial to Dallas’ O-Line as he creates running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott while protecting quarterback Dak Prescott. Throughout his NFL career, Martin has only allowed eight sacks, 1.5 during the 2019 season. A resume that includes four First-Team All-Pros, two Second-Team All-Pros, and six Pro Bowls makes Martin one of the best players in the league.
Drafted second overall in 2018, Saquon entered the NFL with lofty expectations. However, the Giants appear to have selected a generational talent with two back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the man from Penn State. Undoubtedly, Barkley is the biggest weapon on the Giants offense scoring eight touchdowns last season (six rushing and two receiving.) A dual-threat, Barkley can also work as a catcher in the backfield, having 52 receptions for 438 receiving yards last year. An injury meant he missed three games in 2019 but a fully fit Saquon could mean another 1,000-yard season in 2020.
Another elite running back in the NFC East is Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys. 2019 was considered a down year by many. However, Zeke still produced 1,357 rushing yards without making the postseason. This ‘underwhelming’ year is a testament to the productivity Elliot has had within his four years in the NFL. With two rushing titles in four years, Zeke’s importance to the Cowboys’ offense can’t be underestimated. One of the most physical backs in the NFL partnered with his elusive movement Zeke could lead Dallas to the playoffs in 2020.
5. Dak Prescott
A question mark heading into the 2020 season was Dak Prescott’s contract. The quarterback still hasn’t reached a deal with Dallas to tie him down for the future but will see out 2020 on the franchise tag. Turbulent contract situation aside, Prescott has run the Cowboys offense since being drafted in 2016. Winning rookie of the year in his first year leading Dallas to a 13-3 record, Dak hasn’t looked back since. Though there was no appearance in the postseason for Prescott in 2019, the Cowboys still ranked as the number one offense last season. With 30 touchdowns last year Prescott will look to recreate that in 2020 and dominate the NFC East.
6. Jason Kelce
Possibly the best center in the league, Jason Kelce has been the epitome of consistency since drafted in 2011. Kelce became First-Team All-Pro for three consecutive years in 2019 (the first center to do so in 30 years.) Kelce has created an impressive partnership with Brandon Brooks teaming up to prevent the pass rush. At 300 pounds, Kelce combines athleticism and football intelligence only allowing one sack in the 2019 season. Kelce has led the offensive line in Philadelphia for almost a decade and is on course to be a possible Hall of Famer.
7. Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz is viewed by many as a top 10 quarterback in the NFL but injuries have hampered his chances to impress in the postseason. Wentz has elite accuracy and reads coverage well. Rarely does Wentz throw an interception and currently holds the fourth-best interception ratio in NFL history after four years in the league. However, fumbles have been Wentz’s biggest downside allowing 16 fumbles last year. Overall Wentz is a special quarterback who with limited fumbles could shine in 2020.
8. Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper is one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers and is still improving at only 26. Cooper’s main strength is his route-running with his speed of break creating separation from the league’s best corners. Another four-time Pro Bowler, Cooper has surpassed 1,000 yards in four of his five seasons breaking out in 2019 and produced career highs in games played, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Being partnered with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup in 2020 will only improve his productivity in a stacked Cowboys offense.
9. Tyron Smith
Tyron Smith is one of the best left tackles in the league and is one of the most experienced on the Cowboys offensive line. Smith is a two-time First-Team All-Pro and more recently was inducted into the 2010s all-decade team. Smith has been ever-present in the left tackle slot protecting Prescott’s blindside. Injury issues recently with both his back and ankle hasn’t stopped Smith’s ability to anchor the O-Line and make life a misery for any right end in the league.
10. Zach Ertz
Eagles fans were crying out for a receiver in the 2020 draft. However, Zach Ertz has been the most reliable weapon for Carson Wentz. For five consecutive seasons, Ertz has had elite consistency with production. Five years with over 70 receptions and over 800 yards has made Ertz a cornerstone in the Eagles franchise. Ertz has given it all for Philadelphia playing through a lacerated kidney and broken ribs but has won the ultimate prize. Since scoring a touchdown in Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win, Ertz has continued playing to the highest level and more is expected in 2020.