Eagles 53-man roster prediction: Desai’s defense demands a new approach

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) celebrates his touchdown during the game between the Washington Football Team and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 21, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The first week of OTA’s is on the horizon which means it’s definitely time to start throwing out totally rational Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster predictions at the speed of sound. It’s hard to really be certain how things will pan out before a whistle at Training Camp has even sounded, but we can at least get a rough idea of what we could expect.

Quarterback 3 (3)

Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Tanner McKee

No surprises here. The top two spots are obvious locks but we will see a QB3 battle headline the majority of preseason play. Ian Book will look to hold off rookie Tanner McKee, but with the Eagles having invested draft capital into McKee, I think he edges this one out.

Running back 4 (7)

Kenny Gainwell, Rashaad Penny, D’Andre Swift, Boston Scott

Nick Sirianni’s offense doesn’t typically house a lot of running backs, but it’s easy to see why that may change in 2023. Rashaad Penny replaces Miles Sanders and the trade for D’Andre Swift was almost too good to pass up.

Boston Scott’s value could literally just be: Mauling the Giants, and that in itself is worthy of a roster spot.

You can never have too much depth and the Eagles love their versatility. This backfield is loaded with that and I expect all four backs to make the cut.

Offensive line 9 (16)

Jason Kelce, Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Lane Johnson, Sua Opeta, Cam Jurgens, Roderick Johnson, Jack Driscoll, Tyler Steen

Shockingly enough, the offensive line picture really isn’t that different to the one Jeff Stoutland painted last year. The familiar names and faces are all still there, but Tyler Steen will make his arrival and complete what is an absolutely stacked unit.

Brett Toth has usually been able to hang around, but this Eagles team is hitting a point now where the bar is ‘elite play’. For backups, they need to have a real guaranteed insurance policy in the event of an injury, and the experienced Roderick Johnson may sneak in as a result.

Tight end 3 (19)

Dallas Goedert, Dan Arnold, Grant Calcaterra

Dan Arnold isn’t an elite tight end, but the Eagles have tried and failed for multiple years now to develop a low-risk, high-reward backup. If Dallas Goedert goes down, there has to be someone to hold the fort.

The Eagles also keep Grant Calcaterra around as someone with ties to Jalen Hurts and a freakishly athletic upside.

Wide receiver 5 (24)

DeVonta Smith, A.J Brown, Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus, Britain Covey

The Eagles do have a lack of depth at wide receiver and it would hardly be surprising to see them go after a veteran free agent to add to this group. Covey does have some nice upside but is yet to really kick into gear as a wide receiver, and there could be an interesting WR3 battle between Watkins and Zaccheaus.

Defensive tackle 6 (30)

Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter, Milton Williams, Fletcher Cox, Marlon Tuipulotu, Moro Ojomo

A dominant tandem of Davis and Carter headlines an intriguing positional group that could see some surprises this offseason. It’s heavy, but the Eagles have such a versatile defense that they can afford to bolster this area…which isn’t a bad thing for a team that loves depth in the trenches.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 30: Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis (90) rushes during the game between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles on October 30, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Kentavius Street did sign as a free agent and could bring some veteran stability to the group if needed. But given the shape of this defense, Sean Desai may want to use that roster spot elsewhere.

Defensive end 5 (35)

Haason Reddick Nolan Smith, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Patrick Johnson

This all depends on what you consider a ‘defensive end’, with both Reddick and Smith lending themselves to OLB spots as well. With that said, they keep both Sweat and BG in their traditional roles with Patrick Johnson as a backup and have Smith backing up Reddick in that wildcard spot on the depth chart at least. Expect a lot of unusual looks this season with the likes of Smith, Reddick, and Jalen Carter all playing huge roles.

Linebacker 5 (40)

Nakobe Dean, Shaun Bradley, Nicholas Morrow, Christian Elliss, Davion Taylor

The Eagles go light here because of how much versatility is held within this defense. Expect a lot of Sydney Brown and Kelee Ringo playing inside the box and of course guys like Reddick and Smith to play the OLB spots at times. This means the Eagles only really need a devout MIKE, a backup, and some special teams prowess.

Cornerback 6 (46)

Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Kelee Ringo, Zech McPhearson, Greedy Williams

I know 6 corners sounds like a lot…but it’s really not. As aforementioned, I’m expecting Ringo especially to play a niche role during his rookie season, which would technically give the Eagles 4 corners on the field in certain packages.

That means we still need backups. Greedy Williams has enough mettle to handle outside duties if needed and McPhearson is the logical backup to Maddox.

Safety 4 (50)

Reed Blankenship, Sydney Brown, Terrell Edmunds, Justin Evans

The Eagles have a really solid rotation at Safety. Blankenship and Edmunds will likely lock down the starting roles, while Sydney Brown runs rampant as a versatile STAR defender. Justin Evans provides some special teams depth.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles safety Reed Blankenship (46) warms up during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Specialists 3 (53)

Rick Lovato, Jake Elliott, Ty Zentner


Be sure to let me know your thoughts on this roster prediction in the comments!

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire