Predicting the Eagles 53 Man Roster

The reigning NFC East Champions are weeks away from finalizing their 53 man roster for the 2014 season. A few positions have questions concerning just who exactly avoids August's ax. Here's a quick look at what the final roster could look like, come the end of the month.

QUARTERBACKS

Nick Foles (S), Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley

Sanchez is pretty much a lock to be second banana. The real battle will be between Barkley and G.J. Kinne, who came on strong early on camp, but has tapered off in production as the days have progressed. Eliot Shorr-Parks noted Kinne's decreased playing time with the third team, while Barkley's beginning to pull away from the cutting line. Kinne's only hope may be a head-turning performance in the first preseason game.

RUNNING BACKS

LeSean McCoy (S), Darren Sproles, Chris Polk

There's little else to say about the running back situation. The league's leading rusher, and its most versatile micro-back, are filling the first two slots, and Polk would seem to have a stranglehold on third. Matthew Tucker, who impressed last preseason, has an outside chance to make the roster, but it won't come from leapfrogging powerhouse Polk. Only if Chip Kelly opts for a fourth running back will the Horned Frog make the cut.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Jeremy Maclin (S), Riley Cooper (S), Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Brad Smith, Arrelious Benn

The starters and the two draft picks are assured, as enterprising fans count the days until the no-days-off work ethic of Matthews gets him a starting job, even if not this year. Beyond that, Kelly's offense puts variety at a premium, so Smith looks like he has an in. The 'Wildcat' may be deader than disco, but a veteran receiver who adds an element of tricky danger to an offense will be coveted. Smith will also come in handy on special teams, for which it seems every receiver has been forced into auditions.

Benn has the drop on the likes of Jeff Maehl (foot injury) and Damaris Johnson (general ineffectiveness), and has received some work with the first team in Maclin's stead. Kelly noted the physical shape Benn's in after tearing his ACL a year ago, while Pat Shurmur was quick to name-drop Benn as impressing him thus far in camp. No guarantees the team carries six receivers, but beyond Smith, Benn has the best chance of making the squad.

TIGHT ENDS

Brent Celek (S), Zach Ertz (S), James Casey

Same group as last year: the reliable starters and the special teamer extraordinaire. Since Kelly and Howie Roseman added nobody of note to the position this offseason, you can bank on this one, barring Casey (due close to $4M this season) being a surprise, last-day cut, which I wouldn't wager.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Jason Peters (S), Evan Mathis (S), Jason Kelce (S), Todd Herremans (S), Lane Johnson (S/SUSP), Allen Barbre (S), Matt Tobin, Julian Vandervelde, Michael Bamiro, Josh Andrews

The Johnson suspension will provide a litmus test for Barbre, who impressed the Eagles enough (especially in last year's win over the Packers) to earn a deal that keeps him in green through 2017. Herremans is due to make $4M in each 2015-16 prior to free agency, and his pass protection last season was the pits of the line. While Herremans is certainly not in jeopardy of being cut on August 30, it remains to be seen if Barbre could ace him out during this season at right guard.

For the backups, Vandervelde's only competition at center is former Charger David Molk, and without any rumblings involving Molk's name, I side with the incumbent back-up (there's a lovely oxymoron). It's a total crapshoot after that, since barely any other linemen were active last season (Barbre and Vandervelde were designated back-ups while Tobin and Dennis Kelly hardly dressed). Tobin, Bamiro, and Andrews make enough sense to me, knowing that one of them will be axed once Johnson returns from suspension.

KICKER

Alex Henery

Carey Spear's not blowing him away, and Henery's looked significantly better thus far.

PUNTER

Donnie Jones

You needed to ask?

LONG SNAPPER

Jon Dorenbos

Long snappers are never worth going out of your way to replace, unless one's injured. Then, unless you're signing a rusty Trey Junkin, you're fine.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

Cedric Thornton (S), Fletcher Cox (S), Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Taylor Hart

Curry won't be going anywhere, but he's still searching for his niche. Explosive off the line, Curry only played 337 snaps in 2013, not even 30% of the defense's plays. As part of a rotational defense, Curry's explosiveness does provide a startling change toward opposing offenses, but Philly fans are waiting for the team to unleash his fury much more frequently.

Hart's probably safe as a fifth-round selection, Oregon connection or not. The other end spot will either go to Joe Kruger (2013 seventh rounder who missed all of last season) or perennial practice-squader Bair. My gut says Bair makes it, based on Kruger's purported struggles, while Bair's gotten some red zone reps with the first team, and doesn't seem to have any notable body issues. Like a broken record, I'll reiterate that preseason will likely settle the spot.

NOSE TACKLES

Bennie Logan (S), Beau Allen

Logan's been hampered with a bad hamstring, but his spot's not in jeopardy. For the back-up, I see Allen pushing Damion Square out, much the same way he's pushed around Jason Kelce in bull-rush drills. The rookie's stock continues to rise through camp. Like a true nose, Allen's been dominant in one-on-one bull rushes, and continues to receive more and more first team reps in Logan's absence. Perhaps both Allen and Square make it, but if only one does, the rookie has the drop.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Connor Barwin (S), Trent Cole (S), Marcus Smith II, Brandon Graham, Bryan Braman

Seems to be pretty straight-forward. Past the starters, Smith's been one of the highlights of camp so far, and every first-rounder makes it anyway. Graham as the fourth-best outside linebacker only accentuates the depth on this team, even if he hates coming off the bench. Braman was brought in to improve the mediocre special teams, and can be inserted as a change-of-pace pass rusher. The only competition comes from Travis Long, but the gap's likely too wide between he and "Kill, Maim, Destroy" Braman.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

DeMeco Ryans (S), Mychal Kendricks (S), Najee Goode, Emmanuel Acho

After Kelly's declaration that Ryans played too many snaps in 2013, Goode's for sure making the cut. The team's giving him plenty of first team reps to see how he can handle an expanded role, on the heels of an impressive 2013 as both a fill-in and a specialist. Bill Davis notes that having Goode this entire offseason is a boon (the Eagles didn't sign him last year until after final cuts), further hinting at big plans in the middle rotation for him.

Acho will have to fend off Jason Phillips (missed all of 2013) and Casey Matthews (unlikely survivor to this point) for the last spot. All three have considerable special teams experience, but my nod goes to Acho for his speed. He's quicker than both Phillips and Matthews, making them odd men out not only on special teams, but a defense that seeks to improve its lagging pass rush from a year ago.

CORNERBACKS

Cary Williams (S), Bradley Fletcher (S), Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll, Jaylen Watkins

This was too easy. The only question here is whether or not Carroll can steal the seat out from under Williams or Fletcher as a starter. As of Monday, Carroll was listed as one the top kick returner on the Eagles' depth chart, though Kelly'll tell you that the chart is merely a media creation.

Taking into consideration Watkins (fourth-rounder) as a bit of an unknown, this is one of the deeper groups on the team, and a far cry from the tepid Nnamdi Asomugha/DRC days of recent past. Only if the Eagles carry six corners would Roc Carmichael or Curtis Marsh have a shot.

SAFETIES

Malcolm Jenkins (S), Earl Wolff (S), Nate Allen, Chris Maragos, Ed Reynolds

Wolff at starter is merely a prediction on my end, but he and Allen are both shoo-ins. Maragos has safe passage for his special teams leadership, as Kelly values intelligent, take-charge veterans who hold themselves accountable.

I don't see Reynolds being cut, even if he'll be gasping for playing time outside special teams. You figure Keelan Johnson's arrest is a smudge against him, and the only other competition will come from Daytawion Lowe, an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State that's gotten some notable mentions from the beat. Given a choice, you can dress Reynolds and relegate Lowe to the practice squad, which seems the most likely scenario.


War Nest Top Stories