- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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In the final 20 days before the start of the regular season, we are counting down the top 20 players in the NFC East. For a full explanation, see this post. And if you want to read any of the other posts that have run since we started this series, you can find them all here, in this link.
(Last year: Not ranked)
The one and only reason Peters didn't make last year's list was that he was already out for the season following multiple Achilles surgeries. Coming off of the 2011 season he had, if he had not been healthy, he'd have been a legitimate candidate for the No. 1 spot on the list. But I wasn't ranking guys who we knew weren't going to play in 2012.
Regardless Peters is back now, and he looks as healthy and devastating as ever. He was the best left tackle in the game prior to his injury, and assuming he can avoid a recurrence of that injury, his return is the best thing to happen to the Eagles this season. New coach Chip Kelly and his quarterback competition have received the bulk of the attention in camp, but the return of Peterson to anchor the offensive line will help improve the play of anyone who's playing quarterback for the Eagles this year, not to mention the production of brilliant running back LeSean McCoy.
What the Eagles lost with Peters out was a left tackle who can not only consistently win against the league's best pass rushers at the line of scrimmage but can also then get out and immediately begin delivering crushing blocks against linebackers and safeties at the second level. With him back, the Eagles' ability to run their screen game and do many of the short-range passing things Kelly wants to do on offense will improve drastically. Once we get to Week 6 and everybody's talking about what a great year McCoy is having, make sure somebody compares how much success he's having running left this year versus last year. And when you see those numbers, remember this post, and what a difference-maker Peters is.
The rest of the rankings: