If you could lock up 10 current Philadelphia players from now through the end of their careers, who’d make your list? Let’s add a wrinkle and include guys now in the farm systems.
Age matters. Malcolm Jenkins is 28. Love him now, but he’s entering his eighth season. This is all about the future.
Risk counts, too. I hope Joel Embiid becomes a Hall of Famer, but I can’t bet on a 7-footer with bad feet. Is anyone confident Embiid will have an impactful 10-year career?
The good news: Our sports future is much better than the current state. Players who didn’t make my 10 include Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor, Zach Ertz, Jakub Voracek, Odubel Herrera and Vince Velasquez.
But this exercise is about tough choices. So here are my keepers, from the bottom up.
10. Eagles tackle Lane Johnson. He’s been good, not great, in his first three seasons. Coaches project him as a solid blind-side tackle. Those are difficult to find.
9. Flyers center Claude Giroux. He’s 28, so this violates my “age matters” rule. But if you look at the players with comparable careers through at his age on Hockey-reference.com, they include Stan Mikita, Keith Tkachuk, Mark Messier and Daniel Sedin.
8. Phillies starter Aaron Nola. His slump might push you away, but I’ll call them growing pains. Nola is 23 and in his first full season. I foresee 120 wins over the next decade. If that doesn’t sound impressive, know there are just eight active pitchers who’ve done that.
7. Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs shortstop J.P. Crawford. He’s the brightest jewel in the system. I’m wary to put on my keeper list someone who’s never played a game in the pros — although you’ll see others. The comparisons to Jimmy Rollins will go for years.
6. Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov. Another pick based on optimistic speculation. He’s just 19, but experts rave about his maturity and hockey IQ. A 200-foot player, you’ll see him paired with …
5. Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. He was often the team’s best player as a 23-year-old rookie. Only downside is his size.
4. Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco. A slow start this season, but he’s up to 18 homers. Solid defense, plus power. He’s the only player on this list, however, whose attitude might cause concern.
3. Sixers point forward Ben Simmons. His passing skills are amazing, and will look brighter when he’s surrounded with better shooters. He'll likely end up at point guard. Soon to be Philadelphia’s most-exciting athlete.
2. Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Howie Roseman was smart to lock up this 25-year-old bull. He’ll be tremendous in the Eagles new attack defense, filling the role Jim Schwartz formerly assigned to Albert Haynesworth, Ndamukong Suh and Marcell Dareus.
1. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. No position in sports is more important, and no local player has more on his shoulders moving forward. Wentz, of course, could be a bust. But experts universally love his skills, competitiveness and smarts. If the Eagles have their franchise quarterback, everything else should fall into place.