The final week of preseason is here. A clash with the Jets is all that separates the Eagles from the start of the regular season and more prominently, the roster cutdown. With no cutdown to 75 this year, the roster moves are already underway as the team battle with some difficult decisions. Here’s one last roster prediction before the Eagles meet with the Jets for their fourth and final preseason game.
Quarterbacks: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles 2 (2)
There’s still no major shocks here. Although the lack of training camp participation and preseason action is slightly concerning for Nick Foles, Doug Pederson is confident that Mr. 27-2 will be ready to go by the time week one rolls around, backing up Carson Wentz and helping the development of the face of the franchise.
Running backs: LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey 4 (6)
Despite a valiant effort from Corey Clement, it’s not quite enough to prompt the Eagles into replacing Wendell Smallwood or to carry an extra back on the roster. The running back rotation is all but complete with the versatile duo of Sproles and Pumphrey locking out the four rushers. Questions over whether or not it will be Blount leading the charge will be the ones to watch as the season begins.
Offensive line: Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Peters, Dillon Gordon, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Taylor Hart, Chance Warmack 10 (16)
The Eagles have plenty of questions left surrounding their offensive line and many of them will be answered against the Jets. Dillon Gordon has forced himself into the fray as backup to Jason Peters, while Taylor Hart’s development may well be enough to see him join Wisniewski and Warmack to make up the rest of the OL depth.
Tight ends: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton 3 (19)
I’ve been a big advocate for Billy Brown’s appearance on the final 53, but I feel at this stage he’s still more of a practice squad prospect. Burton has had an explosive preseason and another impressive camp and will join Ertz and Celek in a crucial tight end trio package once again in 2017.
Wide receiver: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Bryce Treggs 6 (25)
The big shock here is obviously Bryce Treggs making the final roster over Shelton Gibson. The Eagles need a deep-threat and a receiver who can take the top off of a defense with pure speed. Gibson has that quality, but camp has shown us that it needs marinating. A less than impressive preseason for the WVU product was met head-on with a month or so of strong performances from Bryce Treggs. Many thought Treggs was out of the WR picture, but he may have done just enough to pip Gibson of his spot and lower him down to the practice squad.
Defensive tackle: Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls 4 (29)
Elijah Qualls is eventually able to beat out a surging Gabe Wright and Justin Hamilton to join Destiny Vaeao in a DT rotation that proved vital in backing up the starters last year. Even with Beau Allen’s return, an offseason of being sidelined may leave the Eagles hard-pressed to choose him over a the monster-sized Qualls who was drafted by the team earlier this year and has shined since arriving at the NovaCare Complex.
Defensive end: Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Steven Means, Alex McCalister 6 (35)
One of the biggest positional battles remaining is the one between Steven Means and Alex McCalister for the fifth DE spot. Eventually, the Eagles go with the standout who simply means business. Means has a consistent level of production since arriving in Philadelphia and although McCalister has bulked up and flashed, the more reliable option is the winner here. However with McCalister’s rookie year that never was, the Eagles may decide to keep him around and have three complete DE tandems.
Linebacker: Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Joe Walker, Nate Gerry 5 (40)
This could go several ways, but if Najee Goode’s injury does keep him sidelined against the Jets, his showing in the absence of Jordan Hicks won’t be enough to keep him ahead of draftee Nate Gerry or a consistently impressive Joe Walker.
The Eagles take great pride in special teams and Jim Schwartz said Fipp’s unit may dictate the final roster decisions. With that in mind, it may come down to Kamu Grugier-Hill and Najee Goode balancing against the defensive production and versatility of Nate Gerry, and coverage prowess of Joe Walker. Defense wins the day, with the Eagles finding special teams aces elsewhere.
Cornerback: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Patrick Robinson, Aaron Grymes, C.J Smith 6 (46)
The Arrival of Ronald Darby has certainly shaken up the cornerback position, pushing Patrick Robinson inside to compete for a slot role. This may see a knock-on effect of how many cornerbacks the Eagles keep. Both Robinson and Brooks are on prove-it contracts, and if Robinson can rekindle the fire that once burned so brightly in San Diego in Thursday night’s game, it could provoke the Eagles to part ways with one veteran and retain Aaron Grymes as a backup.
Mills and Darby will be supported by Rasul Douglas and C.J Smith, providing a healthy balance of development and experience throughout the position.
Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Jaylen Watkins 4 (50)
The trading of Terrence Brooks leaves the Eagles with a much clearer direction at Safety. McLeod and Jenkins will be supported by versatile veteran Corey Graham, and a similarly dynamic DB in Jaylen Watkins who had a huge showing against the Dolphins. The big no-show here is Chris Maragos. While the special teams ace has been a mainstay on the Eagles roster, the team may value versatility and defensive production over special teams contributions. It wouldn’t be the biggest shock in recent memory to see Maragos fail to make the final 53, although it is unlikely. For this scenario however, it gives the Eagles some extra pass-rush firepower.
Specialists: Donne Jones, Caleb Sturgis, Jon Dorenbos 3 (53)
No surprises here!
Dane Evans QB
Greg Ward Jr. WR
Shelton Gibson WR
Billy Brown TE
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