The Eagles have finalized their 53-man roster and we can finally turn our attention to regular season football. But for the Eagles, there is still work to be done before Washington come to town. Here are four questions facing the Birds between now and the season opener.
Who starts at Linebacker?
While T.J Edwards and Alex Singleton may have dominated linebacker-related headlines, there’s a bigger concern here. Nigel Bradham may not be ready to play in week one after undergoing surgery to repair ligaments torn in his toes in the playoff loss to New Orelans.
Pederson previously alluded to the fact that the plan is to get previously injured players ready and raring for week one, but the workload may be reduced. With Kamu Grugier-Hill already sidelined, this leaves the Eagles with an interesting dilemma.
We can assume that in nickel packages, Malcolm Jenkins will enter the box as a ‘third linebacker’, but what happens outside of that? Based on the fact that six linebackers were kept on the roster, here’s how I see the depth chart looking:
Nate Gerry (bulked up 15 lbs this offseason)
Kamu Grugier-Hill (injured)
If this is a reasonable guess, we can assume that the trio of Fort, Gerry, and Edwards could all see significant time against the Redskins. But who starts and bites off the biggest slice of pie, remains a mystery and likely will until we’re in the heart of week one.
Cornerback depth chart
The Eagles have a plethora of young cornerback talent on the roster, but with training camp and preseason now in the books, we’re not really any closer to figuring out who’s going to play where. It’s assumed that Ronald Darby will resume CB1 duties if fully healthy, but the tricky decision lies in the remaining spots.
Does Sidney jones play inside or outside? He’s had a great Summer and has shown potential to play both roles, with some scintillating highs as a CB2 last year against the Colts for instance.
But behind him on the depth chart is Avonte Maddox, a man who can also play just about everywhere. Maddox came out of Pitt as a nickel corner due to his size but has since lined up just about everywhere and has excelled in doing so. It’s likely that Maddox will be the starting CB3, but then that leaves one man in the cold.
Douglas led the Eagles in interceptions last year and is another player who has benefitted from a strong Summer, but it looks as though he could be the odd man out as of right now.
WIll the Eagles add a third tight end?
The Eagles did bring Alex Ellis and Joshua Perkins back on the practice squad, but there are only two tight ends currently on the active roster and that’s likely going to change by Sunday. The question is, how does Howie free up a roster spot? Will it be a player moving to IR, or perhaps waiving someone knowing that there’s a free spot on the practice squad?
Either way, the decision of who steps up as TE3 behind Ertz and Goedert is another coin-toss. Ellis hasn’t been with the team that long but wasted little time in making an impression, while Perkins has been with the team longer and probably has a higher short-term upside as a result.
Is Daeshon Hall the EDGE4 in 2019?
4 sacks, 10 solo tackles, and more hits than Taylor Swift, Daeshon Hall was among the preseason’s brightest stars and has secured his spot on the final 53 as a result. Interestingly, he may have a bigger role than many expect.
There’s every reason to believe that Hall has done enough to beat out both Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller to earn himself the EDGE4 role in Philly. This may not be as significant as it was when Chris Long was on the roster, purely due to the presumed drop in talent, but it’s important nonetheless. If this is the case, we can expect to see Hall play in 30-40 snaps per game…which is a hefty responsibility. I noted yesterday how the Eagles will need Vinny Curry to step up as a leader as a result, helping a very young position to harness their potential.
This can be read two ways. If Hall does end up above Sweat and Miller on the depth chart, it rewards an outstanding effort. But it also should naturally raise a slight concern over last year’s 4th-round pick, Josh Sweat, who despite flurries of praise from every corner of the Eagles locker room, has been hugely outshined by Hall.
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