Eagles 53-Man Roster Prediction
Chip Kelly's first offseason in charge of NFL Free agency and the draft are both in the books.
There will be tons of new faces on the field this season with 90 men coming to camp, 53 will make the team, 46 will dress on Sundays - he is my first guess of who they will be.
Quarterback (3): Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow
As long as he is healthy, Bradford will be the Eagles new starting quarterback, replacing Nick Foles. While Bradford's named was mentioned in trade talks ever since the day he was acquired, he is here to stay and if healthy will probably play very well in this Eagles offense. While the Eagles re-signed Mark Sanchez to a two-year, $9 million contract, that price tag suggests he is nothing more than a top-tier back-up. Sanchez, 28, finished 2014 with a 64.1 completion rate, 14:11 TD-to-INT ratio, and 7.8 YPA -- all career bests. The battle for the third spot, I would give Tebow a little bit of an edge since he is more versatile than Matt Barkley and can be used in certain situations or the the event that both Bradford and Sanchez were hurt, Tebow is a more proven NFL winner than Barkley.
Running back (3): DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles
The reigning rushing champion replaces the previous rushing champion with Murray in and LeSean McCoy out. Kelly prefers more of a straight ahead runner instead of more dynamic high-light reel type.
"[McCoy] wasn’t the style of runner that Chip prefers," said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. "To maximize his power spread offense, he’s always admired the one-cut runners. You’ve gotta let a coach try to bring in the players that fit best what he’s all about to maximize what he’s trying to accomplish."
Enter Murray and his downhill, one-cut style. He produced a NFL leading 1,845 yards, 12 touchdowns and 4.7 yards per carry in 2014. As for Mathews, who has been injury-prone throughout his career, he is among the most naturally gifted inside runners in football when healthy.
Wide receiver (5): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, Seyi Ajirotutu
Matthews becomes the defacto number one wide receiver on the team, replacing Jeremy Maclin as the main target on the team. Agholor, a Maclin type of talent, could be a high-volume player right away with Chip Kelly's high-volume, up-tempo offense.
Who will be the No. 3 receiver on the team? That battle could come down to Huff, Cooper and free agent addition Miles Austin. I see Huff being used is certain situations and Cooper remaining for his blocking ability in the run game, with Austin the odd man out.
The final spot comes down to Austin vs. Ajirotutu and I think Ajirotutu's special teams play, he's one of the league's best special team players. Ajirotutu will likely do some blocking on offense making him more versatile than Austin.
Tight end (3): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton
This could be the season we see a big jump in production from Ertz, showing why they took him in the second round of the 2013 draft. Eagles fans began to see what he could do in Weeks 16-17, when Ertz was in on 122-of-169 plays (72.2 percent). Ertz secured a franchise record 15-of-18 targets for 115 yards in the Eagles Week 16 loss to Washington.
Ertiz finished the season with 58 catches, for 702 and three touchdowns. One of the big things Ertz did this offseason was work on his blocking with former Cowboys OL coach Hudson Houck - one of the best in the game.
Celek contributed just 32 catches last season, but it's his blocking that keeps him on-the-field.
Offensive Line (8): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Allen Barbre, Lane Johnson, Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner, David Molk
This is a tough one to predict, Mathis's contract situation is still an issue, but it's doesn't seem like there are any takers for him on the trade market - so he plays here in Philly or nowhere at this point. Barbre will get the first crack and should win the right guard spot, replacing Todd Herremans. Tobin and Gardner will be the back-up guard and tackles, with Molk the back-up center.
Defensive Line (7): Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Brandon Bair, Brian Mihalik
Another solid, yet not spectacular area with Cox leading the way. Thornton is a very solid defensive end with Logan and Allen providing a nice rotation over-the-ball. Mihalik is a interesting seventh round pick and Bair provides solid depth.
Outside Linebackers (4): Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman
The Eagles gave more money to Barwin and re-signed Graham to a new deal, making him the starter. Last years No. 1 pick, Smith needs to provide something this year or his time in Philly might be coming to an quick end. Braman is one of the top special teams players in the game.
Inside Linebackers (6): Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, Brad Jones, Najee Goode
Like the offensive line, this is a tough spot because of Kendricks - who may be traded still. Rookie Jordan Hicks can provide depth at both linebacker spots and Jones and Goode are both solid special teams players.
Cornerbacks (7): Byron Maxwell, Eric Rowe, Walter Thurmond III, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll, JaCorey Shepherd, Randall Evans
Eric Rowe has been working out at corner in the rookie mini-camps this week, he most likely will play opposite Maxwell at left cornerback. Thurmond could push for time both outside or in the slot with Boykin.
Safeties (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos, Jaylen Watkins
I think one of the sixth-round picks will end up playing some safety, that's why I have only four listed here. Jenkins and Wolff look like the starters, with Watkins and a guy like Shepard or Evans being used in a back-up role. Maragos is a special teams ace who will make the team.
Special Teams (3): Kicker: Cody Parkey, Punter: Donnie Jones., Long Snapper: Jon Dorenbos.