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Doug Pederson's assessment seconded by Pro Football Focus

New Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson says this team has more talent than the Eagles team Andy Reid inherited in 1999. Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

PHILADELPHIA -- This offseason, new Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he believed the team could contend for the NFC East title in his first season.

The team has more talent than the team Andy Reid inherited in 1999, Pederson said. That’s why he believed his first season could be better than Reid’s first season, when the Eagles went 5-11.

Pederson’s claim raised an eyebrow or two. During Chip Kelly’s final, 7-9 season, it was difficult to gauge whether the talent level was low or whether the team was hampered by Kelly’s approach. Complicating matters was the list of talented players who had been let go during Kelly’s reign: DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans, Trent Cole and others.

Another eyebrow was raised when Pro Football Focus published its evaluation of every NFL roster on Monday. It was no surprise to see New England and Green Bay at the top of the rankings.

But there, at No. 5, are the Philadelphia Eagles. Either Pederson’s assessment has some merit or PFF has similarly overrated the Eagles' talent level.

It’s worth noting that the Eagles were ranked No. 6 at this time last season. Mathis and DeMarco Murray were listed as two of the Eagles’ top five players. Mathis was released in June and Murray was traded after a disappointing and acrimonious 2015 season.

This season, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, quarterback Sam Bradford, offensive tackle Jason Peters, defensive end Brandon Graham and safety Malcolm Jenkins are rated the Eagles' five best players by PFF. If the overall ranking raised eyebrows, that list might cause an eyeroll or two.

Peters has been outstanding, but his injury-marred 2015 season raises legitimate questions about whether, at 34, age is creeping up on him. Bradford’s performance in 2015 doesn’t quite support placing him in the top five. Or maybe it’s fairer to say that if he is in the top five after last season, the Eagles really aren’t as talented as the ranking suggests.

PFF analyst Sam Monson explains that the Eagles' quarterback battle between Bradford and rookie Carson Wentz "will be the headline grabber, but Bradford played pretty well in 2015."

Graham is an interesting case. He might not even be starting this season. PFF has consistently given Graham high marks as a pass-rusher, even when Graham was playing limited snaps as a reserve. The question has always been whether the Eagles were underutilizing Graham or whether the limited playing time was the reason he was able to be so effective when he was on the field.

One major concern is the apparent lack of playmakers on offense. Monson takes a pretty optimistic view: "Skill position players Zach Ertz, Darren Sproles and Jordan Matthews provide dangerous weapons from their roles," Monson writes. "Second-year receiver (Nelson) Agholor needs to be much better in 2016."

The 2016 Eagles' best chance to be competitive is for Pederson’s offense and Jim Schwartz’s defense to get the most out of the talent on hand. It’s encouraging, at least, that Pederson and Pro Football Focus both believe there is plenty of talent to work with.