A Look at the Eagles’ Training Camp Roster Battles
The Eagles made a few splashes in free agency this offseason, but for the most part many of the same faces are back.
That said, there will be plenty of competition for playing time and roster spots starting at training camp in three weeks.
My early guess is that there will be about four-to-five position battles to keep an eye on at camp in 2017.
Let’s break down some of the competitions for roster spots.
Quarterback: Carson Wentz is the guy, plain and simple, behind him Nick Foles will battle veteran Matt McGloin for the backup job with Foles the favorite to win that.
Wide receiver. The Eagles revamped the position in both free agency and the draft, adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency, and Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson in the draft. Expect the Eagles to keep six receivers total, with Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor rounding out the receiving core that just released Dorial Green-Beckham.
Running back. This might be the most competitive position on the team, but there also might not be a lot of change. LeGarrette Blount is the new kid on the block and adds a nice complement with Darren Sproles. The team drafted Donnel Pumphrey who should be used initially as a pass-catching back. Wendell Smallwood should make it as the No. 4.
Tight end. The Eagles will probably keep three tight ends who were on the team last year: Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton, but expect to see less of Celek, more and Ertz and Burton in 2017.
Offensive line. This one will be interesting, most of the positions are locked up, but the left guard spot is going to be interesting. The Eagles will probably keep nine offensive linemen. Jason Peters will be the starting left tackle, Jason Kelce is the center, Brandon Brooks mans the right guard position and Lane Johnson is the right tackle. The battle at left guard will feature incumbent Allen Barbre vs. Isaac Seumalo and Chance Warmack. Who ever loses the left guard battle will move into a backup role with Stefen Wisniewski and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. If Peters were to go down, expect Johnson to move to the left tackle spot with either Vaitai or Barbre taking over at right tackle.
Defensive line. Expect nine to make it. Rookies Derek Barnett and Elijah Qualls, plus veterans Chris Long and Timmy Jernigan will be the new additions. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry all return and Beau Allen is battling an injury. That leaves Steven Means, Marcus Smith, Alex McCallister, Gabe White and Destiny Vaeao to battle for a roster spot.
Linebacker. They will most likely keep five, with not a lot of anticipated turnover. Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are locks, with Mychal Kendricks is in the mix. Everything else is up-in-the-air. Najee Goode, Don Cherry, Joe Walker, Kamu Grugier-Hill and rookie Nate Gerry will have to battle to stay on the team. Grugier-Hill special teams ability should allow him to make it. The final two spots will be fought for among the rest of that group - but expect the team to look for a veteran during camp.
Defensive backs. The Eagles weakest area might provide the most competition. The team will probably keep about 10 defensive backs. Rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones will open the season on the physically unable to perform list. Veterans Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod are locks, after that its a mess. Corners Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and rookie Rasul Douglas will make the team. Then there is Ron Brooks, C.J. Smith, Aaron Grymes, and Dwayne Gratz battling for a roster spot at corner. At safety, Terrence Brooks, Chris Maragos, and Jaylen Watkins, will be competing for a roster spot and playing time behind Jenkins and McLeod.