Training camp has finally come to a close outside of a few joint practices with the Dolphins next week and the roster is almost fully shaped. Players now only have the next 3 preseason games to make their mark and earn a spot on this roster. On the day of week 2 of the pre-season here is my crack at projecting what the Eagles will look like after the final cut to 53.
QUARTERBACK – Carson Wentz, Nick Foles (2)
Matt McGloin has simply not done enough to warrant roster consideration. Dane Evans may be practice squad material.
RUNNING BACK – LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Donnell Pumphery, Corey Clement (5)
The battle for 4th running back, essentially Blount’s backup, will have to play out over the course of the pre-season. The best way to evaluate running backs is actual live padded game play. Smallwood has been improved in camp by all reports but has again missed a chunk of time with a soft tissue injury. Corey Clement probably should have been a mid round pick in this past draft if it weren’t for some character concerns. Special teams is going to play a role here. Smallwood is currently penciled in as the starting kick returner and Clement has yet to prove himself in that aspect. I believe that Clement is the better pure runner, not the liability in the passing game that some perceive, and will ultimately force the Eagles to go heavy at this position and keep both he and Smallwood.
WIDE RECEIVER – Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Shelton Gibson (6)
With a strong camp and strong special teams play, Marcus Johnson has earned his way on to the roster. The question here is do they keep 6 and if they do who gets the last spot? I’m going to give Gibson the nod here. His play has improved recently as his confidence is growing and he has speed that you just can’t teach. The Eagles invested a 5th round pick in him and I don’t see them subjecting him to waivers because he probably won’t make it through. The Treggs hype has picked up again after a big game last week but the Eagles just aren’t as tied to him as they are Gibson. The guy here who was also in consideration for a spot was Greg Ward. The converted quaterback’s transition to wide receiver has been going well by all accounts. He has been finding a niche for himself in the slot, which could be notable with the absence of Jordan Matthews, but I’m going to keep him on the outside for now. He’s an excellent candidate for the practice squad.
TIGHT END – Zach Ertz. Trey Burton, Brent Celek (3)
Billy Brown would be the tough cut here. If they really believe he’s special they’ll find a spot on the roster for him. For now he’s on the outside looking in but a top candidate for the practice squad.
OFFENSIVE LINE – Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stephen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Dillon Gordon, Chance Warmack (9)
Wisniewski and Vaitai are pretty much locks for the roster, Gordon has probably earned a spot as well with his versatile role in the offense. We’re going to see him as an extra lineman at times in heavy and tackle eligible packages as well as fullback. Warmack gets the last spot but is probably not active on game days do to his lack of versatility. Josh Andrews was considered for a 10th spot but I’m going to leave him off for now. Undrafted darling Tyler Orlosky has yet to stand out but could be practice squad material along with Darrell Greene.
DEFENSIVE END – Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Steven Means (5)
Means makes it over McCallister for a couple reasons. For one, production matters. Eventually we have to see McCallister put the potential on tape. Also Means is a core special teams player which gives him and edge here.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE – Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls (4)
They go a little light here while waiting for Beau Allen to come back from PUP. Qualls gets the nod due to his recent uptick in performance as well as the draft pick investment that was made in him. Hamilton, Craig and Wright are all journeyman depth that can be easily replaced.
LINEBACKER – Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Joe Walker, Nate Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill (7)
Goode is the only veteran presence off the bench and a core special teams player. Gerry has gotten very positive reviews in his transition to linebacker, specifically from the DC himself Jim Schwartz. Walker hasn’t quite picked up from where he was last year but he’s the only backup in the middle and plays special teams so he makes it. Grugier-Hill is also an outstanding special teams player. Watch out for a Kendricks trade sometime before the season.
CORNERBACK – Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, CJ Smith (4)
This is probably the most intriguing battle on the roster right now. Darby, Mills and Douglas are locks. In this scenario I am going to keep CJ Smith for his steady play as well as his youth and special teams play. Patrick Robinson hasn’t played very well in camp but if his recent move to the slot proves fruitful he could find his way onto the roster due to his versatility. Ron Brooks, who is relegated to the slot, as well as injury prone, isn’t on the field enough to trust. Aaron Grymes could earn a spot here with a nice close to the preseason. Sidney Jones, currently on PUP, returning later in the year could be a big boost here as well.
SAFETIES – Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Chris Maragos, Terrence Brooks (5)
A little heavy here but keep in mind that Graham is potentially going to be playing slot corner himself or safety which would allow Jenkins to move to slot corner. Either way his presence is going to help fill that position and also add a veteran leader to the secondary. Maragos is still the special teams captain. Brooks makes it after an outstanding off-season.
SPECIALISTS – Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos (3)
No threats to their jobs on the roster.
3 big preseason games to go to determine the final couple spots. Lets see how tonight’s game shakes up this prediction.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports