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Ranking the 25 Best Eagles: Miles Sanders Runs His Way to No. 16

The fourth-year RB enters a contract season with something to prove

Miles Sanders isn’t shying away from big expectations in a contract year.

The talented fourth-year running back understands his 2022 season will set the benchmark for his next contract whether that’s in Philadelphia or elsewhere and Sanders isn’t shy about what outsiders should expect from the Eagles offense as a whole after Philadelphia added dynamic receiver A.J. Brown to the mix.

“Oh man, we all feel like we’re on an All-Star team, so we feel great,” Sanders told CBS Sports when asked about the offense. “We feel unstoppable, I’m not gonna lie."

Sanders himself has never been an “All-Star” at the professional level but few deny his talent.

While the pieces may never all come together, the Pittsburgh native is good enough to be ranked No. 16 on Eagles Today’s list of the 25 best Eagles players entering the 2022 season.

The process behind the list started with Eagles Today site publisher Ed Kracz and staff writer John McMullen putting together their top 25 lists independent of each other’s and then assigning point values, with 25 points awarded to the player ranked first on each list, 24 to the player ranked second, and so on, with one point going to the player that was put 25th.

The highest ranking from either reporter broke any ties in the balloting.

Miss anything? Here are the 10 players ranked from No. 25 to No. 16, with the final 15 set to be released over the next 15 days.

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Miles Sanders

In the case of Sanders, he was deadlocked with two other players that will be revealed over the next two days but fell in the tiebreaking procedure.

Sanders finished with 23 votes in our polling and his status was nearly unanimous with Kracz slotting him as No. 14. According to McMullen, he was No. 15 overall.

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Sanders is an interesting player when it comes to the Eagles fan base, one that was probably overrated after a promising rookie season and has now morphed into an underrated one in the wake of unrealistic expectations.

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Sanders is effective as a runner when he’s on the field and understands that’s the most important aspect of his 2022 season – the best ability is availability.

“[My] mentality is a little different,” Sanders said earlier this year. “It’s taking it a little personal, just the year I had last year. I was nowhere near as satisfied with where I played or my availability. So all that stuff means a lot to me. Being the top guy in the running back room, I’ve got to hold the standard. …

“That’s being healthy and being able to produce.”

Sanders, though, has plenty of other issues he needs to work on as well, everything from ball security to pass protection and tightening up his hands as former running backs coach Duce Staley once described.

You can add taking what’s blocked from his top-tier offensive line instead of trying for the home run a little too much and a better understanding of game situations as well after being benched for running out of bounds on two consecutive occasions when the Eagles were trying to run out the clock against New Orleans.

Finally, there is the eye test with some assessing the Eagles' offense looked more in sync with lesser backs like Boston Scott and Jordan Howard wearing the RB1 hat when Sanders was injured.

At the end of the day, Sanders is a quality player and by far the Eagles' most talented running back but he’s not elite and might have to temper his own expectations when you consider Nick Sirianni's preference of using multiple backs, which will mean a lot of ascending second-year player Kenny Gainwell on third-down and hurry-up situations.

The good news is not everyone needs to be an All-Star.

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen