When asked last week about the toughest receivers he and the Eagles will face in the 2022 season, James Bradberry didn’t overthink it.
He started with the NFC East.
“I definitely look at our division first,” Bradberry said. “Of course you got Terry McLaurin, then you got CeeDee Lamb and then you got Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay over there in New York. Those are some guys that I really got to hone in once we play those guys and watch the film to make sure I’m prepared.”
That’s good news. Because that’s one of the big reasons why the Eagles liked Bradberry so much. They watched what he has done the last two seasons in the NFC East.
Bradberry spent his first four seasons in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers before signing a big deal to join the Giants back in 2020. Over his two years with the Eagles’ division rival, Bradberry made a Pro Bowl, had seven interceptions and 35 pass breakups.
And he really performed well against the other teams in the division.
In those two seasons with the Giants, Bradberry played in 12 games in the NFC East. In those 12 games, according to ProFootballFocus data, he saw an average of 5.25 targets per game and gave up just 3.25 catches for 36.0 yards per game.
“Obviously, you've seen him going against the guys in the NFC East, which is a big part of us,” general manager Howie Roseman said at the start of training camp. “The NFC East is our first goal that coach outlines with the team.”
Roseman said the Eagles have always liked Bradberry but pointed out they didn’t have a second-round pick back in 2016 when he went in the second round. But then Bradberry said the Eagles didn’t show much interest in him before the 2020 season when he was a free agent.
But now that Bradberry is here, he represents a really high-level CB2 across from Darius Slay. Nothing against Steven Nelson, who was solid in 2021, but Bradberry is an improvement.
And he’s been playing like that through the first five practices of training camp.
While the Eagles will face some good receivers outside their division, the two best receivers they are slated to face in 2022 comes from the NFC East: Terry McLaurin from Washington and CeeDee Lamb from Dallas.
How has Bradberry fared against these two over the last two years? Pretty well, according to these stats from PFF.
Bradberry has covered McLaurin extensively four times over the last two years. His worst game against McLaurin came in Week 2 of 2021, but even then it’s not like McLaurin crushed him:
Week 6 2020: 2 targets, 2 catches, 12 yards
Week 9 2020: 1 target, 1 catch, 11 yards
Week 2 2021: 7 targets, 5 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Week 18 2021: 2 targets, 2 catches, 23 yards
With the Amari Cooper trade, Lamb is now the unquestioned No. 1 receiver in Dallas. While Lamb wasn’t targeted with Bradberry in coverage during the 2020 season, they did face off twice in 2021.
Week 5 2021: 2 targets, 2 catches, 60 yards, TD
Week 15 of 2021: 1 target, 1 catch, 7 yards
Bradberry spent most of his time covering Cooper during those matchups vs. the Cowboys. Cooper is in Cleveland now — so Bradberry see him at joint practices soon — but check out what Bradberry did to Cooper over the last two seasons:
Week 5 2020: 3 targets, 1 catch, 8 yards, 1 PBU
Week 17 2020: 3 targets, 3 catches, 17 yards
Week 5 2021: 1 targets, 1 catch, 15 yards
Week 15: 3 targets, 2 catches, 8 yards, 1 PBU
And even if the Eagles want to put Slay on Lamb and have Bradberry face Michael Gallup in those two Eagles-Cowboys matchups this season, that works too. Bradberry has had success against him as well:
Week 5 2020: 2 targets, 2 catches, 27 yards
Week 17 2020: 2 targets, 0 catches
Week 15 2021: 2 targets, 1 catch, 19 yards, 1 PBU
As for the two top Giants targets, Bradberry has gone up against Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton the last two years in New York during practice. So he’ll probably have a good sense of how to play against them.
And then there’s Bradberry’s success against the Eagles. In his four games against the Birds over the last two seasons, Bradberry has been targeted 20 times and has given up just 10 catches for 124 yards. The Eagles got an up-close look at that success.
Thanks to a late release from the Giants this offseason, Bradberry was available very late in the process and the Eagles still needed a quality CB2. It made a ton of sense when the Eagles signed him to a one-year deal.
“Had a lot of respect for the player and the person,” Roseman said, “and was excited to get the opportunity to get him into Philadelphia.”
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