Eagles’ 53-Man Roster Prediction
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) – It’s T minus two weeks until training camp and just over seven weeks before you find out who will make up the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles roster but why wait until Sept. 3 to find out?
Here’s 973espn.com’s first attempt to figure out the ingredients executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman will be handing off to his head coach, Doug Pederson for Week 1:
Quarterbacks (2): Carson Wentz; Nick Foles
-Out: Matt McGloin; Dane Evans
The Skinny: Forget Matt McGloin’s experience as a bad starter in Oakland, the Eagles went with two QBs last season after the Sam Bradford trade and expect that to continue in 2017 with Nick Foles returning to the organization to a solid backup to second-year starter Carson Wentz. The strong-armed Dane Evans was recently added as a camp arm when Dorial Green-Beckham was waived and could figure on the practice squad.
Running backs (4): LeGarrette Blount; Darren Sproles; Donnel Pumphrey; Wendell Smallwood
-Out: Ryan Mathews; Corey Clement; Byron Marshall
The Skinny: LeGarrette Blount is the bell cow and Darren Sproles the electric third-down back. From there it will be interesting to see how quickly the Eagles get the explosive Donnel Pumphrey into the offensive mix because they spent a lot of the spring trying to get him up to speed as both a receiver and runner. Wendell Smallwood will likely be the RB2 to Blount on base downs if the latter is ever banged up. Undrafted rookie and Glassboro native Corey Clement and Byron Marshall, a versatile player being cross-trained as a runner, receiver and returner, will likely punch tickets to the practice squad.
Wide receivers (6): Alshon Jeffery; Torrey Smith; Jordan Matthews; Nelson Agholor; Mack Hollins; Marcus Johnson
-Out: Shelton Gibson; Greg Ward; David Watford; Bryce Treggs; Paul Turner
The Skinny: The Eagles are much improved here with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith as well as the improvement Nelson Agholor showed throughout the offseason. A healthy Jordan Matthews will also be added to the mix this summer while Mack Hollins will get his first taste of the NFL on special teams and Marcus Johnson is a coaching staff favorite among the back-end receivers like Paul Turner, Bryce Treggs, and Shelton Gibson.
Tight ends (3): Zach Ertz; Brent Celek; Trey Burton
-Out: Anthony Denham; Billy Brown
The Skinny: You can book this position barring injury because the younger options like Anthony Denham and Billy Brown are simply not a threat to the top three on the roster. Zach Ertz is one of the better receiving tight ends in football while Brent Celek remains the team’s top blocking option and Trey Burton is an undersized matchup problem in the slot or outside the numbers.
Offensive line (10): Jason Peters, Allen Barbre; Jason Kelce; Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson; Isaac Seumalo; Stefen Wisniewski
Halapoulivaati Vaitai; Dillon Gordon; Chance Warmack
-Out: Matt Tobin; Josh Andrews; Taylor Hart; Darrell Greene; Tyler Orlosky; Dallas Thomas; Victor Salako; Aaron Neary
The Skinny: The Eagles are extremely deep on the offensive line and Frank Reich mentioned in the spring that the team could basically put together a capable OL with their backups. That may be a bit much but it is an impressive group with two top-tier tackles (Jason Peters and Lane Johnson). The hope is Isaac Seumalo takes the next step and starts at left guard while Stefen Wisniewski is the interior backup on game days and Allen Barbre the swing tackle. Dillon Gordon sticks as a versatile player who backs up at left tackle, can serve as an extra blocking TE and even will line up in the backfield on occasion as a fullback.
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Defensive line (9): Brandon Graham; Vinny Curry; Fletcher Cox; Tim Jernigan; Derek Barnett; Chris Long; Destiny Vaeao; Elijah Qualls; Steven Means; Beau Allen (PUP)
-Out: Marcus Smith; Alex McCalister; Justin Hamilton; Gabe Wright, Winston Craig
The Skinny: The Eagles boast some impressive starters and depth on the edges with Derek Barnett and Chris Long backing up second-team All-Pro Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry. The reserves inside could be an issue with Beau Allen likely not ready for the start of the regular season with a torn pec. Destiny Vaeao, an undrafted second-year player, and Elijah Qualls, a rookie sixth-round pick, are the only real options unless veteran Gabe Wright shows something in August.
Linebackers (6): Jordan Hicks; Nigel Bradham (suspended); Mychal Kendricks; Najee Goode; Joe Walker; Nathan Gerry; Kamu Grugier-Hill
-Out: Don Cherry;
The Skinny: The guess here is that Nigel Bradham starts the season suspended for a game or two under the NFL’s personal-conduct policy which will make a thin group even thinner. Jordan Hicks is a budding star and Mychal Kendricks while disappointing to Eagles’ fans can help hold down the fort early in the nickel package. The backups are all unproven starting with Joe Walker, whose rookie season was wiped out worth a torn ACL. Najee Goode is a jack of all trades but he and Kamu Grugier-Hill are both special teams while Nate Gerry is making the transition from college safety to NFL linebacker. Once Bradham returns expect Goode to be the odd man out.
Defensive backs (10): Jalen Mills; Patrick Robinson; Rasul Douglas; Malcolm Jenkins; Rodney McLeod; Aaron Grymes, C. J. Smith; Terrence Brooks; Jaylen Watkins; Chris Maragos; Sidney Jones (PUP)
-Out: Ron Brooks; Dwayne Gratz; Jomal Wiltz; Randall Goforth; Mitchell White; Tre Sullivan
The Skinny: Corner is obviously a big issue with talented rookie Sidney Jones earmarked for the PUP list to start the season. The hope is fellow freshman Rasul Douglas will hit the field running as either a starter or a nickel player on the outside. Aaron Grymes competes and could turn into a valuable slot player while C.J. Smith will serve as the top backup on the outside. At safety, the starters (Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod) are lights out and Terrence Brooks brings a physicality Jaylen Watkins doesn’t have but the later is a versatile coverage player and could even fill in as a corner in an emergency. Chris Maragos sticks for his special teams acumen as usual.
Specialists (3): Caleb Sturgis; Donnie Jones; Jon Dorenbos
-Out: Cameron Johnston; Rick Lovato
The Skinny: The only question is whether Rick Lovato can push the now 36-year-old Jon Dorenbos. Former Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston could be on the radar of other NFL teams with a strong preseason.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen