With the preseason dress rehearsal in the books, the roster is finally taking shape. There are still a few spots at the back end that will be determined in Thursday’s game versus the Jets but as of right now here is my best guess as to who the Eagles will open the season with.
Quarterback (3) – Carson, Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld
Easiest position to predict. The only thing worth keeping an eye on is Wentz’ availability for the opener. Christian Hackenberg may be added to the practice squad if the coaches like what that have seen so far.
Running Back (4) – Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Josh Adams
There’s so much up in the air with both skill position groups. At running back, the Eagles may even go 5 deep. I believe that Josh Adams is the most talented natural runner in a group that includes Wendell Smallwood, Matt Jones and Donnell Pumphery. I believe Adams’ size also helps him stand out on the roster and the fact that he could pair with Corey Clement next year will be why the Eagles want to keep him around. Smallwood is a tough cut because the coaches are familiar with what he can do but there’s nothing about him that really stands out. I would leave him off but I could see him making the final cutdown. Pumphery is another tough cut that I went back and forth on. The guy has barely been on the field and looked totally outmatched when he was playing. Now we’ve been hearing all summer about a new “bulked up” Pumphery and maybe we’ll see that on Thursday but as of now there’s nothing there and players like him or players designed to do what he’s envisioned to do are available every April in the draft. The coaches may try to stash him on IR one more year to have a 3-headed Clement, Adams, Pumphery mix next year.
Wide Reciever (5) – Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson
This is another position that the team could go with an extra body because of the injury to Jeffery. To me, none of the receivers on the back end of this roster have really stepped up enough to the point where they earned a spot on the team. Veterans Markus Wheaton and Kamar Aiken along with rookie Deandre Carter would be the names if they were to keep a 6th but Shelton Gibson’s development should allow the team to only carry 5 players even if Jeffery’s injury lingers into the season.
Tight End (3) – Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers
Billy Brown didn’t take that big step up in his development like we hoped so this cut down should be pretty cut and dried.
Offensive Line (10) – Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaaiti Vaitai, Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack, Matt Pryor, Jordan Mialata
I think the Eagles go heavier here as the try to protect some of their youthful reserves with an aging offensive line. The only notable I left out is Taylor Hart because with Mailata making the team the Eagles can’t afford to have 3 tackle only reserves. Vaitai is a lock. Despite Seumalo’s struggles, his versatility makes him a lock. I don’t think the Eagles even take the chance of exposing Mailata to waivers and just have him deactivated on game days. Matt Pryor has been a welcomed surprise as the 5th round big man who can play G/T has been rock solid throughout camp. Warmack may be the one who is in jeopardy if the team wants to go heavier somewhere else and feels comfortable having Seumalo and Pryor as the interior reserves.
Defensive End – (6) Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Josh Sweat, Steven Means
The top 5 are locks and I am going to keep Means because of what he brings to the locker room and the fact that he does produce when given the chance. Josh Sweat looks like the real deal and he should have a prominent place in the rotation at this position for years to come. Joe Ostman probably makes the practice squad.
Defensive Tackle – (4) Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls
I think it’s safe to say that Timmy Jernigan starts the year on PUP and because players like Michael Bennett and Brandon Graham can move inside the Eagles can go a little light at the position.
Linebacker (6) Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, Joe Walker, LaRoy Reynolds
It took a little while for the picture to clear up at this position but after the trade of Kendricks, the injury to Worrilow and cutting Corey Nelson it’s pretty clear that this will be the group going forward.
Cornerback (5) – Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox
After a brief mini camp push from Devante Bausby this group settled in to what it was expected to be after the draft. It’s crazy to look at the talent at this position now after struggling to find capable players for so many years.
Safety (4) – Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Tre Sullivan
I’m not including Chris Maragos because I think he will start the year on PUP. He may be released outright if the team feels comfortable with their coverage units on special teams. Jeremy Reaves may have made the team before Graham was signed and will probably fit on the practice squad.
Specialists (3) – Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato
The remake is done and the new era of Eagles specialists has arrived.
Expect Howie to be active in the coming week, making trades and searching the post roster cut waivers for gems he can stash on the back end of the roster. Even if nobody new is brought in the Eagles are ready to roll for the regular season. Bring on the Falcons.
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