For many, the fourth preseason game is nothing more than a formality. But for the 16 undrafted rookies hoping to turn their dreams into a reality, this is their final chance to impress the coaching staff of the Philadelphia Eagles. From underdogs to big performers, there are plenty of undrafted storylines to follow tonight, but here’s what to expect from every single Eagles undrafted rookie.
Don Cherry LB:
The former Villanova Linebacker could face a heavy workload tonight considering how thin the Eagles linebacker depth is and after not seeing any snaps against the Colts, it’s a do-or-die scenario.
Cherry performed well against the Steelers, racking up four tackles. In the 28% of snaps he played in the Eagles second preseason game, Cherry seemed to excel in coverage and wrapping up receivers..an area of concern for other linebackers on the roster.
He may not be a prolific pass rusher, but if there is any shot at making the practice squad or beyond, he needs to step up tonight and show that he can contribute in more than one aspect of the game..outperforming the likes of Myke Tavarres and Quentin Gause.
Quentin Gause LB:
Talking of Quentin Gause, the undrafted rookie could be looking to tip Tavarres to a spot on the final 53-man roster. Gause hasn’t seen a huge amount of action, but four tackles and a nice pass deflection against the Bucs has kept him in conversation.
Interestingly, Gause is listed behind Kendricks as the backup OLB. With Kendricks reportedly looking to see a lot of playing time tonight, it will be interesting to see how Gause rotates into the game and whether or not he can potentially outperform the starter who seems to be falling out of favor.
Dillon Gordon OL:
Gordon could get a lot of snaps at Left tackle tonight after some strong preseason performances. A former Tight end, Gordon has helped open up the run game tremendously so far and if the Eagles do decide to keep ten linemen, then Gordon has a real shot at making the final roster.
Having value as a situational fullback and a TE, his versatility could also prove to be his greatest asset. Gordon’s agility and overall fundamentals will be tested against the Jets tonight, but if he shows flashes of promise as he has so far, Gordon could be rewarded with a spot on the final 53.
Darrell Greene OL:
The Eagles gave Greene the most money of any UDFA in the league and with one more game potentially deciding his fate, the versatile guard will have to prove his worth in a very crowded unit.
However, with the Eagles cutting Andrew Gardner, there could be room for Greene to waggle his way in as a depth guard. He may not have the ideal size, but Greene is very athletic and in a zone run-blocking scheme, that could prove pivotal. Greene saw over 40% of snaps last week and could face a similar situation tonight. The Offensive line will draw a lot of attention against the Jets, can Greene shine when he needs to the most?
Marcus Johnson WR:
Training camp started perfectly for Marcus Johnson, but after missing a lot of preseason action due to a quad injury, this really is do-or-die for the former Texas receiver.
Johnson could see a bulk of playing time tonight as he aims to explode onto the scene and join an Eagles receiver corps that’s being built on youth and potential. With catches in 42 games at Texas for a total of 793 yards, Johnson is an impact player..but with fellow undrafted rookies Paul Turner and Cayleb Jones starting tonight, it’s a tough mountain to climb.
Cayleb Jones WR:
4 receptions for 45 yards is not a bad preseason stat line for an undrafted wide receiver and neither is a 22 yard reception against the Colts. Jones survived the opening wave of roster cuts and will see a hefty amount of action against the Jets Defense.
Jones has been reliable so far and with the Eagles looking to their undrafted rookies to dominate in an attempt to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster, competition has never been higher. Jones is very much on the edge of finding himself on the 53-man roster and some big plays tonight may be just enough to tilt the scales in his favor.
Byron Marshall RB:
Marshall had 10 carries against the Colts and rushed for 40 yards. With the starters sitting this one out, a heavy workload is almost imminent for Marshall. The re-signing of Cedric O’Neal may deprive him of some snaps, but Marshall hasn’t quite been able to make the impact many had hoped he would.
Marshall was a dominant dual-threat back in College and he was able to catch a few passes in preseason, but it’s going to take much more than that if he is to force his way onto a roster that is already crammed at running back. Marshall would need a huge performance in order to put himself in contention for a spot on the final 53-man roster, but if he remains consistent and averages 4.0 yards per carry as he did against the Colts, Marshall could easily land himself a spot on the practice squad.
MJ McFarland TE:
McFarland will have a chance to show his versatility tonight with Ertz and Celek on the sidelines. A big reception against the Bucs was able to turn heads, but he will need a big game tonight considering that the TE position is all but locked in. If the birds are going to keep a fourth tight end, it comes down to McFarland vs Pantale and if that is the case, McFarland has to show that he can contribute in opening up the run game, receiving and potentially even being used as a fullback..all of which could be responsibilities he takes on tonight.
Jake Metz DL:
A former Defensive End of the ArenaBowl championship winning Philadelphia Soul, Metz has been given one opportunity to explode onto the field and earn himself an NFL future. The Eagles are light at DT and DE when it comes to depth which could open the doors for the versatility of Metz to earn him a bulk of playing time tonight. It’s a huge mountain to climb but with Metz shattering the Shippensburg single season record for sacks in College, his systematic fit may just see him conquer the climb if given the chance. The Practice squad is a very realistic possibility for Metz, but it’s not his ceiling.
Cedric O’Neal RB:
After being waived previously, O’Neal was resigned in order to ensure that the Eagles running backs are rested and ready for week one. It may be a blessing in disguise for the physical O’Neal who impressed in limited preseason action and could force himself into contention for a practice squad slot if he pushes through holes as he did previously.
Aziz Shittu & Destiny Vaeo DT:
Beau Allen and Taylor Hart’s recent emergence has certainly stunted the growth of undrafted rookies Shittu and Vaeo, but with Mike Martin recently waived and the starters sitting out the fourth preseason game, this is the last chance for a big performance.
I recently noted how the pair are more suited to Schwartz’s system than Allen and Hart..but so far the latter have made the greater impact. A gritty and aggressive game will be needed from start to finish from Shittu and Vaeao if either are to storm out of the shadows and spring a 53-man roster surprise. Seeing the Eagles sign both to the practice squad could be a likely scenario, but at the same time, they may decide to mix it up and keep a veteran presence while signing one of the UDFA’s to the final roster..who that is, may come down to tonight’s game.
CJ Smith CB:
The undrafted rookie cornerback has done more than turn a few heads during preseason. A crucial endzone interception, some big pass deflections and a game against the Colts in which he led the team in tackles, the former NDSU star has soared into contention for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
With Aaron Grymes being waived due to injury, the window of opportunity has become even greater and with just one game left to play, Smith is going to see a lot of playing time. Can the former teammate of Carson Wentz end an impressive preseason in the same way he started it?
Myke Tavarres LB:
Tavarres has had a strong Training camp and a similarly impressive preseason, but the recent involvement in the “Kaepernick controversy” before withdrawing his intentions may have harmed his standing. It will be interesting to see if the mentality of Tavarres has changed over the last seven days, given the recent media attention..but the undrafted rookie has been immense so far and if he can perform to those standards in the wake of a week of media controversy, he will be in the best position to be rewarded with a spot on the practice squad at the very least.
Paul Turner WR:
The jewel in the crown of the Eagles undrafted rookies, Turner has rapidly emerged as an undrafted fan favorite, leading the Eagles in receiving yards in two of their three preseason games. The former Louisiana Tech receiver also survived the opening wave of roster cuts and although he may not be the tallest or fastest receiver on the roster, he’s been able to turn heads throughout Training camp and deep into preseason.
There’s still heavy competition at the WR position, especially over the depth roles. This is Turner’s last chance to put the icing on the cake and have another strong performance with the starters out of the equation. If he does, he may just be rewarded with a spot on the final 53-man roster.
David Watford WR:
A former Quarterback, Watford may have been considered a longshot to make the roster..until he caught a 28-yard touchdown pass against the Colts. The Eagles obviously liked him enough to retain him over the likes of Reuben Randle and Chris Givens, but can he re-enforce their faith with another strong performance?
Watford is the outsider of the undrafted WR’s, but with this being his final shot at showing Doug Pederson what he brings to the table, expect Watford to attack the snaps he receives with the starters sidelined.
A never-say-die attitude is going to be Watford’s best hope here with roster spots being fiercely contested..but if he can enjoy a big game, there could be another name thrown into the hat at wide receiver.