The preseason is in the books. The coaches now have to gather together and whittle down this roster to 53 players by 4pm EST Saturday. The majority of the roster is largely set but tough decisions lie in exactly how they want to set up the back end. Every year we become enamored with exactly how things will shake out.What positions can they afford to go light? Where do they want to go a little heavier? Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, Coach Pederson and the rest of the coaches and scouting staff will take the next day and a half to figure that out. For now, this is my humble guess at how things should/could play out.
Quarterback – Carson Wentz, Nick Foles (2)
Very simple here: Carson is the franchise. Nick is the veteran stabilizer off the bench. No need for more. By all accounts Foles’ elbow is just fine. There was never any need to panic.
Running Back – LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, Donnel Pumphery (5)
I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if any of these guys besides Sproles was cut. In this scenario I am going to keep all 5. We’re probably looking at a “3 headed monster” rushing attack this year with Blount, Sproles and Smallwood. Clement has played well and earned a spot on this team. He would fill in for Blount or Smallwood if there is any injury or declined performance. Despite all the talk of Pumphery to IR, I am giving him a spot due to being the direct backup to Sproles. That is a specialty role in this offense. I also see him having a limited role in the slot.
Wide Receiver – Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson (5)
In my last prediction I had Shelton Gibson on the roster, however this time I just couldn’t justify putting him there. The Eagles don’t typically cut 5th round picks and even though he has tremendous speed he was simply beaten out for a spot. Bryce Treggs was given some thought but he doesn’t do much on special teams and that would be essential for the 6th receiver. Ward and Davis are practice squad candidates.
Tight End – Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Brent Celek (3)
I was tempted to put Billy Brown on the team over Celek but Celek’s $4 million contract is fully guaranteed this year so there wouldn’t be any savings. Plus that would be an unceremonious end to a much appreciated and respected workmanlike career here in Philly. He deserves better. They will still try to sneak Brown on to this roster or at the very least the practice squad.
Offensive Line – Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Dillon Gordon (9)
After the departures of Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin the offensive line picture became much clearer. The starters are locked in and look to be a very solid group. Josh Andrews might be given some consideration due to his time with the team and his G/C versatility.
Defensive End – Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Vinny Curry, Steven Means (5)
Despite Alex McCallister’s strong preseason, he still remains a bit of a project and with an injury last night, the team may find a way to stash him on IR. The contract extension of Steven Means all but confirmed his future.
Defensive Tackle – Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls (5)
What was once thought of as a thin position now looks like a position of strength. Allen was activated from PUP just in time for the season. Both Vaeao and Qualls have had strong enough play to warrant roster spots.
Linebacker – Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Joe Walker, Nate Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill (6)
This is certainly a position to watch at the cut down. I’m keeping 6 because all the backups are core special teams players. Najee Goode could be a cut down day casualty yet again, only to be brought back at a later date. Nate Gerry could be stashed on IR for the year. There’s also the possibility of a Kendricks trade. It’s a very fluid situation that bares watching.
Cornerback – Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Dexter McDougle, CJ Smith (6)
Obviously Sidney Jones will be going on PUP if not full IR. Luckily Robinson seems to have found a home in the slot otherwise he was bound for the waiver wire. It sure sounds like McDougle has a spot here as the direct backup in the slot. The Eagles like enough of what they’ve seen from Smith to keep him around another year. The tough cut is Jaylen Watkins. His recent move to corner has shown great versatility. e could very be on the roster but I believe they like Smith better as an outside corner.
Safety – Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Chris Maragos (4)
Corey Graham’s veteran leadership and versatility will earn him spot here. Special teams captain Maragos also has a role here too.
Specialists – Caleb Sturgis, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato (3)
After moving on from Dorenbos I sense a full youth movement is coming for the special teams units. Johnston has shown well enough in the preseason to warrant being considered the punter of the future.
It’s going to be a crazy couple of days for sure. Even after the final cut you can be sure that the Eagles will be active on the waiver wire. Who knows what this team will look like come opening Sunday. The team is relatively healthy and ready to go. Now it’s Howie and Joe’s job to fill out the end of a roster that looks primed to take the next step.
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