The Philadelphia Eagles take on the New York Jets for the team’s preseason finale tonight at 7 p.m. The Eagles have to cut down the roster to the final 53 players by September 3rd. Here’s my final 53-man roster prediction for the 2016 season.
Quarterbacks: Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz (3)
No surprises here. The Eagles are going to go into the season with Bradford as the starting quarterback and Daniel backing him up. Wentz will be inactive on game day for majority or all of his rookie season.
Running backs: Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood (7)
Mathews, Sproles, and Barner are locks to make the team. The question is if the Eagles will decide to carry four running backs and the answer is yes. Mathews durability issues, Sproles not being able to handle a feature back workload, and Barner’s lack of experience pave the way for the team to carry four running backs.
Smallwood was hand picked by Pederson and company with a vision in mind playing in the west coast offense. Even though he’s been nonexistent this preseason due to injuries, he still makes the 53-man roster.
Wide receivers: Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-beckham, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and Paul Turner (12)
The first four receivers come as no surprise. Turner making the roster won’t surprise many of the fans due to his production this preseason, but chances are the Eagles’ fifth wide receiver isn’t currently on the roster. If the team decides to grant the fifth spot to a wide receiver currently on the team, then Turner has the edge over Marcus Johnson and Cayleb Jones.
Don’t be shocked if the team brings in a receiver from outside the organization to take that fifth spot.
Tight ends: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton and Chris Pantale (16)
Carrying four tight ends might come as a surprise, but Pantale will potentially fill in at fullback when called upon. There’s a chance the Eagles add a fullback during roster cut downs, but as of right now Pantale looks to have spot secured.
Burton could also line up at fullback on passing plays and offer the Eagles offense another receiving dynamic, but if preseason was any indicator of what Pederson plans to do at fullback, then Pantale has that spot.
Offensive line: Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Allen Barbre, Lane Johnson, Matt Tobin, Halapoulivaati Vaitati, Stefen Wisniewski (25)
The Eagles are still awaiting word on Lane Johnson’s impending ten game suspension. Once the suspension is announced and depending on Johnson appealing or not, the Eagles could bring in another offensive lineman for depth purposes during those ten games.
Defensive ends: Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry, Marcus Smith, Steven Means and Bryan Braman (31)
The Eagles are going to use a heavy rotation along the defensive line this season under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. They’ll need the depth to give starters a breather and keep the pass-rush running efficiently.
Defensive tackles: Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen and Taylor Hart (35)
The defensive tackle depth was questionable heading into the preseason, but Allen and Hart proved to be worthy of the backup spots. The Eagles have made Hart available for trade and if a team decides to acquire him look for Destiny Vaeao to take the fourth spot.
Linebackers: Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode and Stephen Tulloch (40)
The surprise here is the Eagles carrying just five linebackers. The team could look to add another outside linebacker during roster cut downs, but rookie free agents Quentin Gause and Myke Tavarres haven’t proved enough to warrant a final roster spot.
Cornerbacks: Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe and CJ Smith (46)
The big surprise here is rookie free agent CJ Smith making the final 53-man roster. He’s been impressive this preseason and the Eagles were high enough on him to play him with the first-team defense during the dress rehearsal versus the Colts this past Saturday.
The Eagles could ultimately add a cornerback during roster cut downs for that final spot at cornerback, but given Smith’s play during the preseason he’s earned a roster spot.
Safeties: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Jaylen Watkins and Chris Maragos (50)
The safety position is the most certain on the Eagles. Jenkins hasn’t missed a game in an Eagles uniform and McLeod hasn’t missed a snap as a starter in his NFL career. Watkins has been the Eagles most impressive player this preseason and has rightfully earned the third safety spot, while Maragos is the team’s best special teams player.
Kicker: Caleb Sturgis (51)
The kicker competition for the Eagles hasn’t gone as expected. Cody Parkey, who set an Eagles franchise record for points scored in a season in 2014, looks like a shell of his former self. His complete groin tear looks to have hindered his kicking production and Sturgis has flat out performed better than him this offseason.
Punter: Donnie Jones (52)
No surprise here. Donnie long ball is the Eagles punter like he has been since the team signed him during the 2013 offseason.
Long snapper: Jon Dorenbos (53)
Dorenbos won the Eagles long snapping spot over rookie free agent, John DePalma, and will also win America’s got talent as well.
Practice squad: LB Myke Tavarres, RB Byron Marshall, OG Darrell Greene, WR Marcus Johnson, S Blake Countess, CB Aaron Grymes, DT Destiny Vaeao, LB Quentin Gause, CB Randall Evans and WR Cayleb Jones (10)