We’re just a few short sunrises away from preseason Football. Six months ago to this day in fact, the Eagles hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Now that there’s less than one week separating Lincoln Financial Field and Eagles football, it’s time to project who of the 90 players currently grinding at the NovaCare Complex will make it onto the final 53-man roster,
Quarterbacks 3 (3)
Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld
There are no surprises in the quarterback room this year. Carson Wentz may be limited in Training Camp, but it’s highly unlikely that he won’t be on the final roster. It may mean he doesn’t dress for a few weeks, but the Eagles have a Super Bowl MVP backup and a developmental third arm who has been tearing the NovaCare Complex to shreds this offseason. There’s plenty of promise around this unit.
Running back: 4 (7)
Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood
Pumphrey may have taken big strides and put on some extra weight, but we’re yet to see how he performs at game speed. Preseason seemed a little too much for the running back last season and this could force him into another year on the practice squad. The first three backs listed need no explanation, but Wendell Smallwood has been receiving plenty of attention and snaps this offseason. It could be because he’s the back with the most uncertain future, so the Eagles are trying to get as much intel as possible. Preseason will be ‘do-or-die’ for both Pumphrey and Smallwood, but I think Smallwood’s value on special teams may just elevate him onto the final 53.
Offensive line: 8 (15)
Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Matt Pryor, Isaac Seumalo
We’re used to seeing the Eagles go heavy on the offensive front and with good reason. The good news this year is that the growing versatility in the unit should enable them to shed some excess weight. Matt Pryor’s monstrous frame and emphatic training camp has pushed him into roster spot contention and he can play inside and out. Isaac Seumalo will make the team as Kelce’s backup and Big V will once again be the ‘next man up’ on the outside. Keep an eye on Darrell Greene, who has taken some big steps since last season, but there may be too much depth, forcing him outside of the roster bubble.
Tight end: 3 (18)
Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers
The Eagles may go slightly heavier at tight end this year and it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done so. Trey Burton made the team as an UDFA behind James Casey, Brent Celek and Zach Ertz after all. Either way, the receiving combination of Ertz and Goedert will be backed up by former Packers tight end, Richard Rodgers, who will likely be the team’s roadblocking TE.
Wide receiver:6 (24)
Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Markus Wheaton, Shelton Gibson
It’s open season at wide receiver right now and a lot could change over the coming weeks. However the three locks art this stage would be Jeffery, Agholor and Hollins. Mike Wallace is as close as possible to a lock, but if Markus Wheaton can continue to drive home those home runs and Gibson continues to develop, his role could be a rotational one as the Eagles ensure optionality remains a heavy focus, as well as the development of younger talent.
Defensive tackle: 4 (28)
Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls
This will be extremely interesting to watch throughout the preseason. Without Timmy Jernigan, the Eagles need to take a closer look at their defensive tackle rotation. Beau Allen and Destiny Vaeao accounted for 60% of snaps last year and Ngata is not the most durable player in the league. They could go heavy here, but I think Vaeao and Qualls provide enough punch to tide the team over into Jernigan’s return.
Defensive end: 5 (33)
Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Josh Sweat
The Eagles pass-rush machine never ceases to amaze and again, the rotations here are plentiful. No real surprises, but what stands out is Michael Bennett being listed as a DE. He has the versatility to sting offensive lines by lining up inside too which could kill two birds with one stone. Josh Sweat carves his way onto the team, giving the Eagles two pairings and one of the hidden gems from this year’s draft.
Linebacker: 6 (39)
Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Corey Nelson, Nate Gerry, Joe Walker
The Eagles could take an extra name or two here and with good reason. ‘KGH’ could take on the role left by Mychal Kendricks, but there is still a depth concern. Nate Gerry would essentially serve as an ‘inside the box’ safety, rotating in for Malcolm Jenkins when needed, while Joe Walker adds some much needed firepower to the special teams unit.
Cornerback: 6 (45)
Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, De’Vante Bausby
The Eagles are in a position of luxury at cornerback and will reap the rewards of that situation. There’s no reason not to pick the best six corners possible and that list is largely self explanatory. The two wildcards are the team’s fourth-round selection, Avonte Maddox and De’Vante Bausby. A strong preseason from both will be needed and there are other corners who will be chomping at the bit to snatch one of those final spots. But taking 6 corners onto a defense where ‘Nickel’ looks are rapidly becoming the base formation is huge.
Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Tre Sullivan, Jeremy Reaves, Chris Maragos
Again, no real shocks here. The starting tandem are accompanied by a special teams ace and two developmental players who will pick up where Graham and Watkins left off in 2017.
Special teams: 3 (53)
Jake Elliott, Rick Lovato, Cameron Johnston
The only position that could be up in the air here is Cameron Johnston’s, who has had a notably wobbly camp. Aside from that, the special teams unit is all but sealed.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports