Eagles 53-man roster prediction: Pre-Training Camp edition

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Training Camp is just two days away for the Philadelphia Eagles and excitement surrounding the upcoming season is at an all time high. That means we have one more opportunity to examine the roster before camp opens and make one last prediction as to how it will all shake out. Be prepared for a few bumps and surprises along the way…and be sure to let me know in the comments how you’re expecting the roster to shape up.

 

Quarterback: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles  2 (2)
There are no surprises here. While the Eagles are set to hold a competition over the fate of the QB3 spot, I can see the team keeping Tulsa’s Dane Evans around, keeping him on the practice squad. With Wentz entrenched as the starter, and the experienced Nick Foles to fill the boots of Chase Daniel, the Eagles head into the 2017 season with stability and continuity at the quarterback position for the first time in a long time.

 

Running back: LeGarrette Blount, Donnel Pumphrey, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement  4 (6)
The first real shock of this 53-man roster sees a change for the fourth spot on the roster. Wendell Smallwood’s rookie year was an interesting one, but while the West Virginia product was able to rush for 312 yards and his first career touchdown, he struggled when it came to catching out of the backfield and to find a consistent rhythm. This isn’t a major cause for concern by any stretch of the imagination, however, the backfield is heading in a clear new direction.

If LeGarrette Blount were to go down with injury, the Eagles wouldn’t have a backup workhorse on the roster and would be left in a similar predicament to the one they found themselves in last year; A lot of versatile pieces, but no real shape.

Corey Clement is used to a heavy workload. Despite sharing the backfield in his final collegiate year, Clement still put up 1,375 yards and 15 touchdowns. At 5’11, 220 lbs, the former Wisconsin standout is a physical downhill back who could come in at a moments notice to replace the Super Bowl winning veteran, ensuring the Eagles can run the same style of offense as before.

It’s a slight wildcard decision, and obviously depends on how Clement fairs during Training Camp, but with the Eagles finally having rushing stability, it wouldn’t surprise me try to embed that vision deep into the depth chart.

 

Offensive Line: Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Chance Warmack, Dillon Gordon, Tyler Orlosky  10 (16)
The layout here is that the Eagles have both a starting line and a backup one on the roster. By having two players at each position, with many able to flex in anywhere along the interior positions or as a swing tackle, it gives the Birds the optionality they crave.

The team hand starting LG reins to Isaac Seumalo and decide to cut Allen Barbre in order to save create much needed cap space, getting younger along the line in the process.

Chance Warmack’s prove it deal is enough to drive a strong training camp and turn it into an eventual roster spot, while Dillon Gordon draws on his experience on the practice squad and as a powerful LSU lineman that can translate to the next level.

Finally, UDFA Tyler Orlosky overcomes the tall Mountain climb set before him, earning a spot behind Jason Kelce and allowing Wisniewski to contribute in the same ways he did one year ago.

 

Tight End: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, BIlly Brown  4 (20)
In 2014, the Eagles decided to keep four tight ends on the roster. James Casey, Zach Ertz, and Brent Celek acted as mentors for one athletic UDFA out of Florida, Trey Burton. As we now know, Burton was a key cog of the offense last year, having built his rapport with Wentz through the offseason and training camp reps, going on to receive for 327 yards and his first touchdown.

Now that a new era is in place, the Eagles could be set to repeat this process by keeping Shepherd standout, Billy Brown, on the final 53 (or at least the practice squad). While he may not play all that much, the value on special teams and sense of longevity beyond Ertz (with Celek nearing the end of his career and Burton only on a one-year tender) is simply too important.

 

Wide receiver: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Marcus Johnson  7 (27)
It’s the usual suspects at wide receiver. The two free agent signings secure their place on the roster, while Matthews and Agholor enter crucial year’s of their career, hoping that the removal of pressure and attention from Defenses opens the floodgates to some big numbers.

Beyond the first four wideouts on the depth chart, the Eagles opt to keep both Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson on the roster. The special teams contributions of Hollins, combined with his ability to body up bigger cornerbacks or work out of the slot as a downfield threat when Matthews is out of the game, give the Eagles a lot of flexibility, while the team will be hoping that Gibson can do the same for the speed threat that is possessed by Torrey Smith.

The big shock here is that the team are keeping one extra wideout on their roster, Marcus Johnson. After his rookie year ended before we even got to week one due to injury, the Eagles decided to keep Johnson around, and one year later, it’s all business for the former Texas Longhorn. If Johnson can pick up where he left off one year ago, seeing his name appear on the final roster shouldn’t come as a surprise.

 

Defensive Tackle: Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls  4 (31)
The starters are already locked in and if last season is anything to go by, the team could be looking to keep four defensive tackles on the roster in order to create a pass rush by rotation. While it would be unsurprising to see the Eagles sixth round pick from this year make the roster, to see him replace Beau Allen certainly would be.

As documented yesterday, Allen faces an uphill battle entering Training Camp after a pectoral injury left him sidelined during the team’s spring workouts. Entering his contract year, it may make sense for the Eagles to keep Qualls around and add a sense of long-term development.

 

Defensive end: Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Steven Means  5 (36)
While the first four names on this list are all locks to make the roster barring an upset, the battle over that fifth and final spot in rotation could come down to Means, McCalister, and Marcus Smith. If that’s the case, the relentless Steven Means, who has impressed in every opportunity he’s been handed, should reap the rewards and secure a place on the roster.

 

Linebacker: Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Nate Gerry, Joe Walker  4 (40)
With Hicks and Bradham entrenched as one of the league’s most exciting linebacker cores in the NFL, the remaining spots are widely up for grabs. Expect Nate Gerry to be in the mix after he’s moved down into the box, and the fourth spot to likely fall to Joe Walker. The Eagles rarely used Stephen Tulloch in that spot one year ago, but having a reliable coverage option (something that Kendricks didn’t provide) will be valuable to the team when they want to flex out of nickel formations.

 

Cornerback: Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Patrick Robinson, Aaron Grymes, Ron Brooks, C.J Smith  6 (46)
The position with the most exciting competition heading into Training Camp should be primed for a revamped depth chart compared to what we see now. While that itself will be answered in Camp, the Eagles should still be willing to run heavy at the position due to a lack of overall prowess.

Patrick Robinson should be able to secure the nickel role if he can tap into the potential displayed during 2015, also acting as the veteran presence on the roster. After taking a pay cut, Ron Brooks should still be kept on the roster for backup purposes, allowing the final two corners to contribute on special teams or on the outside.

Aaron Grymes and C.J Smith will join Mills and Douglas, with their experience on the roster last year becoming extremely valuable. Both of the underdogs have shined during training camp last year and workouts this year up to this point. If the same happens once again, they will likely move up from the practice squad and onto the final 53-man roster.

 

Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Terrance Brooks  4 (50)
The starting tandem of Jenkins and McLeod may be among the most feared in the NFL, while Maragos is set to continue his role as a captain of Fipp’s special teams unit. The backup spot will be contested between Jaylen Watkins and Terrance Brooks, but it’s the former Raven who wins out, after flashing and earning the appraisal of Jim Schwartz at the end of last season.

 

Special teams: Donnie Jones, Caleb Sturgis, Jon Dorenbos 3 (53)
No alarms here, Donnie Football is still present, as is Super Sturgis and the magic man himself!

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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