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: No. 19)
Signed to be a backup guard in the summer of 2011, Mathis played his way into a starting role in that year's training camp and has emerged two years later as the most reliable offensive lineman the Eagles have. Pro Football Focus consistently grades him the best run-blocking guard in the league by a wide margin, and last year he also ranked as their second-best pass-blocking guard. Mathis was the only one of the Eagles' five starting linemen to make it through the 2012 debacle healthy, and given the chaos that went on around him, his standout individual performance is that much more remarkable.
With Jason Peters and Jason Kelce back healthy on either side of him this year, Mathis should continue to flourish. He seems energized, along with everyone else in Philadelphia, by new coach Chip Kelly's approach and schemes, and his intelligence, instincts and athleticism should continue to make him one of the Eagles' top unsung offensive assets and one of the very best interior linemen in the NFL.
The rest of the rankings: