Eagles
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Eagles stocked with players who have something to prove

They're playing like they're mad at the world. Like they're trying to shut people up. Like they have something to prove. And there's a pretty good reason for that.

The Eagles' roster is largely made up of guys who were late-round draft picks. Guys who went undrafted, who were unwanted by their previous team, who were benched somewhere or toiled on the practice squad.

Castoffs, misfits, journeymen.

Put it all together and you have a roster stocked with guys who were told they'd never make it. Who have a chip on their shoulder. Who are driven by a team or coach or GM or even a fan base who doubted them and questioned them and gave up on them.

That's who this team is.

Let's look at the 53-man roster.

There are 20 guys drafted in the fifth round or later. There are seven undrafted free agents (and that doesn't include guys like Jason Peters and Chris Maragos, who are on IR). There are a dozen who've been released at some point in their career. A bunch more have been traded and several have been benched.

A good chunk of this roster is made up of players who've been doubted or questioned or left by the wayside, and that can go one of two ways. You can wind up with a group of football players who just aren't good enough to play in this league. Or you can wind up with a locker room full of men who are hungry, motivated, selfless and determined.

Find the right combination of those guys and find the correct roles for them and then develop them and what do you have?

You have the 2017 Eagles.

Heck, even some of their first-round picks play like they're fighting for their lives.

Carson Wentz heard repeatedly that he'd never be a big-time quarterback coming from an FCS school like North Dakota State. Brandon Graham heard for years he was a bust and the Eagles should have taken Earl Thomas instead. Even Fletcher Cox heard that his level of play dropped last year after he signed his massive contract.

Good luck finding a guy in this locker room who didn't have to overcome some long odds or who isn't driven by being treated unfairly at some point in his life.

Jason Kelce is playing at an All-Pro level. He was a sixth-round draft pick.

Corey Clement scored three touchdowns against the Broncos Sunday. He was undrafted.

Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills have been unreal at cornerback. Robinson is with his fourth team in four years, and Mills was a seventh-round pick.

Go right through the roster.

LeGarrette Blount, released by two different teams and unwanted in New England after rushing for 18 touchdowns last year.

Tim Jernigan, cast off by the Ravens. Nelson Agholor, benched a year ago. Mychal Kendricks, shopped by the Eagles for the last few years. Jake Elliott, released by the Bengals and dumped on the practice squad. Stefen Wisniewski, started the season as a third-stringer. Rodney McLeod, undrafted.

“You look at this locker room, a lot of guys have things to prove," McLeod said.

"There’s a lot of different stories on this team. Guys being cut. Guys going undrafted. Guys getting overlooked. And they all make up a team that’s hungry as a whole. So that’s what you have. A lot of guys who are hungry and just want to win."

And it goes beyond the locker room.

The general manager was essentially benched two years ago, exiled to the equipment department, of all things. The head coach was released eight times in his NFL career and toiled in the Arena League and World League when he couldn't get an NFL job.

When Pederson talks about culture, this is what he means. A whole bunch of people thinking the same way, believing the same thing, working toward a common goal.

The Eagles are the best team in the NFL because he's got 53 guys, most of them driven by some significant obstacle in their lives, playing like the only thing that matters is proving everybody wrong.

It's not the normal formula for building a winning football team. Take a handful of premium draft picks and surround them with a whole bunch of guys off the scrapheap.

But for this team, it's working. And all the guys who are motivated by proving people wrong? They're well on their way to doing exactly that.