We’re one step closer to Football season. The deadline for the NFL 53-man roster cutdown has passed and the Eagles have had a busy few days in finalizing their team ahead of the week one showdown in Washington. There have been contract extensions, there have been cuts, but there surprisingly haven’t been trades…yet. Here’s a first look at the current roster along with some notes and analysis at each position.
Carson Wentz, Nick Foles
No major shocks here. The Eagles parted ways with both Dane Evans and Matt McGloin yesterday, but don’t be surprised to see a developmental quarterback signed to the practice squad. The organization seems confident that Foles will be ready to go by the time week one rolls around despite his extremely limited offseason participation. That’s the only real major concern at quarterback, but the durability that Carson Wentz showed during his rookie year should largely override it.
Running Backs (5)
LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey, Corey Clement
This is a scenario that simply didn’t seem likely just a few days ago. Donnel Pumphrey makes the roster after a week of uncertainty shrouded what had been a disappointing preseason campaign. Development certainly seems to be the theme here, but the overwhelming positive is that Corey Clement is on the final 53.
The UDFA had impressed everyone from the moment he walked in the door, showing the toughness and power craved in a lead back that is represented in LeGarrette Blount. If Blount is unable to carry the load or struggles as he did in the preseason, Wendell Smallwood may have all the potential of becoming that workhorse but his soft tissue injury history lowers his chances of taking on that role. It is one however that Clement could one day grow into as Smallwood continues to refine his craft as a slashing change-of-pace back.
The decision to keep Clement says to me that the team simply didn’t want to lose him to the waiver wire, but don’t think teams won’t come sniffing. There could be a surprise trade or two in the coming days as teams low on running back depth look to what’s suddenly become a very strong position group.
Offensive Line (8)
Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Stefen Wisniewski
Dillon Gordon was seen as one of the bright spots of the offseason as he developed behind Jason Peters, but apparently he didn’t develop enough to be worthy of a roster spot. With Taylor Hart also cut, the Eagles are now incredibly thin at offensive tackle. In fact, the only other tackle besides Peters and Johnson is Halapoulivaati Vaitai. It’s not pretty. It would behoove the Eagles to at the very least scour the waiver wire for some developmental prospects, but the decision to part ways with Tobin may come around to bite them in the rear.
At guard and beyond, the future is set. Seumalo is the starting left guard with Chance Warmack backing up both Seumalo and Brooks. The former Titan signed a one-year extension with the team earlier today, and with Wisniewski able to play both interior spots as well it somewhat relieves the pressure of needing two or three more players at the position.
Tight Ends (3)
Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton
The only shock here is that Billy Brown didn’t make the roster. The Shepherd product had a strong offseason but didn’t explode in the way many envisioned during the preseason. It’s a returning trio for the Eagles…in 2017 at least.
Wide Receivers (6)
Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Shelton Gibson
The surprise here is that the Eagles kept Shelton Gibson. The WVU product has a lot of potential but it was often clouded by drops and inconsistencies throughout training camp and beyond. It was assumed that Gibson would be at risk of being cut, but instead it was Bryce Treggs who bit the dust after a very strong preseason.
That decision alone is peculiar. Treggs was the backup to Nelson Agholor in the slot and that role will now presumably fall to either Gibson or Mack Hollins. All of their chips have seemingly been placed on their former first-round pick, with little in the way of reliable support behind him.
Marcus Johnson makes the roster and continues an endearing underdog story after his rookie season was cut short.
Defensive Tackle (5)
Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls
The DT unit is surprisingly nearly identical to how it looked one year ago. The Eagles felt confident in Beau Allen despite the fact he missed all of the offseason with a torn pectoral muscle, playing in just one game of preseason. This allowed Hamilton and Wright to stake their claims, but ultimately, the team bring back Vaeao and Allen who combined for over 60% of defensive snaps last year.
The only change here is the addition of Elijah Qualls, the team’s sixth round pick out of Washington. Qualls had an electric preseason and his sheer size and athleticism alone make him a valuable asset to the position. The Eagles have a solid rotation behind Cox and Jernigan, taking the weight off of an elite starting duo and creating more opportunities for mismatches.
Defensive End (5)
Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Steven Means
The DE position has largely been set in stone for a while now. The only surprise here is seeing Steven Means receive a contract extension ahead of the roster cuts. Alex McCalister has been waived/injured, meaning the Eagles will enter the year with Graham and Curry starting, and the duo of Barnett and Long infusing the rotational roles. Steven Means will likely see some playing time and there’s no doubting the strength of this unit.
Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Joe Walker
Special teams is the name of the game here. Mychal Kendricks made the roster securely after carving a niche in the Jim Schwartz wide-nine scheme during preseason, but for the three backups it was a case of contributing in coverage and producing in special teams situations. Najee Goode brings six years of experience to the table, while Howie Roseman told the media that he believes former Patriot Kamu Grugier-Hill could be one of the best special teamers in the league.
For Joe Walker, it’s a sense of redemption after his rookie season ended before it had a chance to begin one year ago. A strong preseason cemented his place on the roster as the Eagles go unusually heavy at a position that was so sparingly light one year ago. Special teams matter.
Also note, no Nate Gerry. In a situation where three of the Eagles draft picks had severe question marks over them, it was the team’s quiet fifth round pick who didn’t make the roster…following in the footsteps of Ed Reynolds just a few years ago. KGH may be able to fill that hybrid role, but it’s disappointing to see that Gerry couldn’t find a niche.
Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Dexter McDougle
The Eagles go surprisingly light at cornerback, a position that’s still regarded as a weakness on this year’s roster. Beyond Darby and Mills lies Patrick Robinson who returns to his position of strength inside the slot. Robinson had his best season when working over the middle in Indianapolis and will now be supported by newly-signed Dexter McDougle, who just penned a new one-year extension after making his debut for the team against the Jets just blinks after they traded him away.
Rasul Douglas is likely going to see a lot of playing time this year with no other options outside. The abundance of linebacker depth to me however insinuates that Patrick Robinson and Dexter McDougle could be used outside more than you may think. The only reason the Eagles ran the nickel defense so much was due to a lack of coverage confidence, which may now be resolved with an array of linebackers at their disposal. It’s not the end of the world, but Douglas could still be primed to see more playing time than if the team had opted to keep C.J Smith for instance.
Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Jaylen Watkins, Chris Maragos
The Eagles go heavy at Safety but there’s no shocks. Corey Graham makes the roster as a versatile veteran and it’s Jaylen Watkins who will try to grow behind the former Buffalo Bill after yet another strong preseason. The ability to play at corner for both of these players will be invaluable to a position that lacks depth.
Chris Maragos continues to captain the Eagles special teams units.
Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Rick Lovato
It still doesn’t look quite right listing specialists without Jon Dorenbos, but aside from the absence of the magic man, it’s situation normal.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports