The Eagles made 21 roster moves earlier today, trimming their roster down to the 53 players who will represent the team throughout the regular season. There were some surprises and a few questions that now need to be answered, so here’s a rundown and evaluation of each position.
Quarterback (2) 2 : Carson Wentz, Chase Daniel
With the groundbreaking news that Sam Bradford has been traded to the Minnesota Vikings, the Eagles are left in one of the most interesting quarterback predicaments in the league. Do they roll with Carson Wentz (providing he’s healthy) despite only throwing 24 times in preseason and regardless of his “developmental” status, or do they instead decide to go with Chase Daniel? A seasoned veteran who did anything but set the world on fire during the preseason?
The likelihood is that the Eagles will take a shot on Wentz, the keys have been handed to the second overall pick, perhaps sooner than many expected..but the Eagles obviously believe in him enough to trade Bradford away and with 2016 being a transitional season anyway..it will be invaluable learning experience.
The Eagles are currently without a third quarterback but I’d expect that to change by tomorrow. The most interesting prospect in my eyes is fifth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, Kevin Hogan, who was waived earlier today due to overcrowding. Hogan was one of my favorite QB’s in this year’s draft class and he fits Pederson’s system perfectly. If the Eagles still want a project, they could potentially groom a long-term backup in Hogan.
Running back (6) 4: Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood
There are no surprises here, this has been the general consensus for quite some time now. The shape of the backfield however may be subject to change, but the Eagles have the perfect blend of versatility, explosiveness and unpredictability to run a committee backfield efficiently.
Byron Marshall was cut which was a shame, although there is every chance he makes the practice squad.
Offensive Line (17) 11 : Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Stefen Wisniewski, Matt Tobin, Halapoulavaati Vaitai, Isaac Seumalo, Josh Andrews, Dillon Gordon
The Eagles went very heavy on the Offensive line and understandably so. With Lane Johnson’s future up in the air, the durability of Peters questionable and an early bye-week, the Eagles need a strong line if they are to have the success on the ground needed to move the chains.
Josh Andrews and Dillon Gordon stand out as the two surprises here, especially considering that Andrew Gardner was cut recently. The backups and rookies saw plenty of snaps during preseason, giving Jeff Stoutland plenty of film to judge.
With the rookies struggling at times in pass protection, the versatility and differing styles of linemen help give this unit a much needed boost in the right areas.
Tight end (20) 3: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton
The only shock here is that the Eagles didn’t carry a fourth TE on the roster, although it is something that could be subject to change. Chris Pantale suffered with three drops against the Jets while McFarland had an inconsistent preseason..forcing the Eagles hand into looking elsewhere. There is set to be an abundance of Tight ends available on the Waiver wire and the Eagles would be wise to stock up if they plan to use Trey Burton as the effective swiss-army knife he has proven to be during the offseason.
Wide receiver (25) 5: Jordan Matthews, Dorial Green-Beckham, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Paul Turner
The fanbase can finally breathe a sigh of relief safe in the knowledge that undrafted hero Paul Turner made the roster after a show-stealing preseason. The receiving corps is light..and young, very young. It’s clear that there is a new direction here..but expect the Eagles to potentially bring in an extra wideout or two to bulk up the position, or at least add some breathing room on the practice squad. There’s enough variation in styles to keep Defenses guessing..and if Huff & Agholor can overcome their individual problems then the sky is the limit..but the Eagles have put all their money on an underwhelming corps full of potential, hoping that they hit the jackpot.
Defensive end (31) 6: Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Steven Means, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman
The Eagles go slightly heavier on the Defensive line, something picked up on by Howie Roseman during the press conference..but for good reason. With such an aggressive system, rotation is crucial, especially in a season this long.
After a huge training camp and preseason, Steven Means makes the roster alongside the man he was battling with for a spot, former first round pick Marcus Smith.
It’s also great to see Bryan Braman on the final roster. His presence may only be primarily felt on Special teams, but his ruthlessness and surprisingly dominant pass rush ability make him a valuable asset.
Defensive tackle (36) 5: Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao, Taylor Hart
With Cox and Logan securing the starting roles, the battle was on at the backup spots following the waiving of Mike Martin. It seemed as though there may be a changing of the guard at the depth positions, but with Taylor Hart being shopped, there’s no guarantee that this isn’t the case.
The undrafted Destiny Vaeao really caught the coaches eyes during Training camp and preseason, doing well to earn himself a spot on the final roster. Whether the Eagles do end up trading Taylor Hart or no remains to be seen, but he did show some encouraging signs in preseason and adds what could be much needed security at the position.
Linebacker (40) 4: Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Stephen Tulloch
Very surprisingly, the Eagles waived the trio of Najee Goode, Quentin Gause and Myke Tavarres, leaving the Eagles with just four linebackers. As Howie Roseman alluded to, in a 4-3 scheme, that’s a problem. It’s an even bigger problem when none of your starters have finished an entire sixteen game season.
This situation will no doubt change between now and Sunday, but it’s still worrying considering how important this position is to the Defense.
Cornerback (46) 6: Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe, C.J. Smith
Undrafted rookie standout C.J Smith made the roster after outperforming the likes of JaCorey Shepherd, Randall Evans and Denzel Rice. Jalen Mills makes the roster, importantly..ahead of Eric Rowe who despite being shopped by the Eagles after an offseason of struggles and criticism, and having interest from elsewhere, still makes the roster.
The cornerback position is still one of slight concern, Jalen Mills hardly lived up to the expectations many had after such a promising Training camp, but as a seventh round pick, that goes with the territory. There will no doubt be some interesting corner prospects on the waiver wire who match the Eagles “new found criteria”, so whether they bolster the unit further or sign someone like Aaron Grymes to the practice squad or not will be very telling.
Safety (50) 4 : Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Jaylen Watkins, Chris Maragos
The starting roles have been locked in for quite sometime, but a summer transition to Safety for Jaylen Watkins proved to be his saving grace, breaking out from the crowded CB corps and emerging as a preseason standout as a backup Safety.
The Eagles waived Blake Countess which in one regard was surprising, but in another completely the opposite after such a vanilla preseason in comparison to Watkins. The sixth round pick may be resigned to the practice squad. Chris Maragos retains his special teams ace title and earns his spot over the likes of Ed Reynolds, who also enjoyed a big preseason.
Specialists (53) 3: Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos, Caleb Sturgis
Again, no surprises here. Sturgis beat out Parkey in the kicking competition from the word go and the Eagles remain loyal to their America’s Got Talent star, Jon Dorenbos. Donnie Jones stays on another year as the Eagles punter, rounding out a very interesting 53-man roster.
Mandatory photo credit: Eric Hartline- USA Today Sports