We’re less than one week away from the Eagles first preseason game and there is plenty up for grabs. Training Camp has been a rollercoaster many. A period filled with live tackling, thunderous hits, the emergence of underdogs, and some incredible competition. But what does this mean for the 53-man roster? Here’s my latest prediction as to how things will be looking come week one of the regular season.
Quarterbacks: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles 2 (2)
No major surprises here just yet, but with Foles missing more and more time with elbow soreness after skipping OTA’s due to the birth of his child, the door could not be open anymore for Dane Evans or Matt McGloin to at least throw their name into the conversation for pre-season snaps. I highly doubt anybody dethrones Foles regardless of his limited offseason participation, but there could still be some narratives to watch beneath Carson Wentz once pre-season rolls around.
Running backs: LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey, Wendell Smallwood 4 (6)
Since my last prediction before Training Camp in which I made a bold claim in predicting Corey Clement would displace Wendell Smallwood, it’s the WVU standout who has swung momentum back in his favor. Smallwood has been ruthless in Training Camp over the last two weeks, running with a nasty streak and lowering his pads when tackled. It’s clear that the sophomore rusher is attacking the offseason with a chip on his shoulder, and I think that while some close competition has bought the best out of him, he will end up retaining his spot in the Eagles rushing rotation.
Offensive line: Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Dillon Gordon, Stefen Wisniewski, Josh Andrews 10 (16)
This stance hasn’t changed since that previous prediction. The starters are cemented and Allen Barbre has been cut. The Eagles have a very strong backup unit and the two names to watch here are Chance Warmack and Tyler Orlosky. The coaching staff is very high on Dillon Gordon, and with Orlosky missing OTA’s, pre-season will be his opportunity to prove himself worthy of a spot. Ahead of him however is Stefen Wisniewski, a proven veteran who was a crucial cog in the Eagles o-line last season. It will be a battle worth watching, but Orlosky may well find himself on the practice squad.
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, and the next of kin may well be Shepherd’s Billy Brown.
Brown has has an impressive camp so far, catching everything that comes his way. That shouldn’t be surprising considering how dominant he was at the DII level, but what may be surprising is seeing Pederson ensure the Eagles keep four tight ends on the roster once again.
Wide receiver: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson 6 (26)
The big shock here is that number six spot. Heading into camp, there was a lot of noise surrounding Shelton Gibson and how much of an impact his issues catching the ball could make. Two weeks in and it’s safe to say that while he’s made some big plays, he’s also still struggling with what appears to be a mirror of what Nelson Agholor went through. Instead, the Eagles may decide to place their fifth round pick on the practice squad and give former Texas Longhorn and Training Camp Darling, Marcus Johnson, a shot at the big time. This also enables them to give one roster spot to a crucial element of the team…
Defensive tackle: Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls 4 (30)
Surprisingly, the key player to watch here is Qualls. I think Gabe Wright could very easily send the former Washington pass-rusher a message during pre-season. For now, the rookie keeps his spot as Schwartz spoke highly of his incredibly athletic traits given his 313 lbs stature.
Defensive end: Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Steven Means 5 (35)
The starting rotation appears to be set, with Graham and Curry leading the charge while veteran Chris Long and first round pick Derek Barnett makeup the guys chomping at the bit to get some action. Steven Means should still make the roster after flashing more than enough production and explosiveness last year. If one or more of the DE’s go down, the Eagles need an insurance policy, and Means provides that.
Linebacker: Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, Joe Walker, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry 5 (40)
Remember that crucial roster spot I referenced? Enter Kamu Grugier-Hill. Jim Schwartz told the media how the LB depth may be decided heavily by special teams factors, and after playing in 42% of the team’s ST snaps last season, “KGH” has been a key contributor in camp. He will join Joe Walker and former Nebraska Safety, Nate Gerry in backing up a dangerous starting tandem.
Cornerback: Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Corey Graham, Ron Brooks, Aaron Grymes, C.J Smith 6 (46)
This is where things get interesting. The Eagles recently signed Corey Graham to a one-year deal and while Pederson noted he will start out at Safety having not played corner for 3-years, there’s simply too much solidified at the position to warrant bringing in ANOTHER Safety when there’s a glaring need at corner. It would be a real kick in the teeth to someone such as Terrence Brooks too.
The Eagles replace Patrick Robinson who has struggled in camp thus far, while Mills and Douglas start alongside Ron Brooks. The two other big cornerback winners of the offseason have been Aaron Grymes and C.J Smith…both of those make an appearance on the final 53.
Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Terrence Brooks, Chris Maragos 4 (50)
As aforementioned, the Safety position is very much already cemented. Jenkins and McLeod are the clear starters, but former Ravens DB Terrence Brooks has had a stellar Training Camp, carrying a streak of interceptions and making plenty of noise. Chris Maragos is the team’s special teams captain, his spot isn’t going anywhere.
Special teamers: Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos, Caleb Sturgis 50 (53)
No alarms here, Donnie Football is still present, as is Super Sturgis and the magic man himself!
Dane Evans QB
Greg Ward Jr. WR
Shelton Gibson WR
Mitchell White CB
Corey Clement RB
Adam Zaruba TE
Craig Winston DT
Tre Sullivan S
Cameron Johnston P
Victor Salako OL
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports