August 16, 2017
The first 21 days of training camp (including 18 practices and one game) are in the books. Here's who we project to make the final 53-man roster, which we'll update every week (inactive Week 1 players in red).
Quarterback (2): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles
As you all saw in the first preseason game, like we've seen throughout training camp, Matt McGloin just isn't very good. Looking forward to next offseason, I believe that the Eagles will resume their philosophy of drafting a quarterback most years to develop behind the scenes as their third quarterback, but this year they'll only keep two.
Running back (4): LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey
I think there is some reason for concern on Donnel Pumphrey's ball security. The NFL isn't the Mountain West Conference. Players at this level will separate you from the ball, and I think the coaching staff will be cautious in letting Pumphrey get on the field early. Still, it seems fairly clear to me that this will be the Eagles' quartet of runners this season.
Wide receiver (7): Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Greg Ward, Bryce Treggs
Wait. Seven receivers again?!? Yep. In our last version, I kept seven receivers, and people strongly disagreed. In this version, even with Jordan Matthews gone, I still think the Eagles should still keep seven at 53-man cutdowns, but not necessarily into the season.
I believe Marcus Johnson is a near-lock at this point, and I've been impressed enough by Greg Ward that I would not chance leaving him exposed on the practice squad. Those would be my fifth and sixth guys.
My seventh guy is Treggs, who has had a very good camp, as well as an encouraging first preseason game. Treggs is worthy of a roster spot somewhere, whether that be in Philly or on another team. I'd keep him on the roster at 53-man cuts, and then try to trade him. The NFL covets speed, and Treggs is in the conversation for fastest player on the team. So you never know. It's worth a shot.
I would go this route on the premise that the team can release Najee Goode at 53-man cuts and then bring him back after Week 1, so his contract isn't guaranteed. As such, you're not keeping seven receivers for the whole season. It would just be for one week of the regular season, tops, or shorter, and then you're replacing him with a linebacker after one week.
Tight end (3): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton
I like what No. 3 tight end Billy Brown has shown in the passing game, but it's not enough to keep him on the roster. He had a rookie moment in the first preseason game when he lost a fumble, and his special teams contributions as well as his blocking still need improvement. If there's as good a candidate for the practice as anyone, it's Brown.
Offensive line (9): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Dillon Gordon, Chance Warmack
Wait, Chance Warmack inactive on game day? Well, yeah. Even though Warmack started Week 1 of the preseason, he's a guard only, so he'll be down in favor of Wis, Big V, and Gordon.
The rest of the offensive linemen listed above are obvious, in my view.
Defensive line (9): Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Steven Means, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls
At one point, I had Alex McCalister making the team on the strength of some positive Jim Schwartz comments, but I simply can't justify it based on what I've seen in practice, even with some improvement this past week.
Also, the last time around, I had Justin Hamilton making the team over Elijah Qualls. Hamilton has had a better camp, but on re-thinking it, it's going to be a hell of a lot easier getting Hamilton to the practice squad than Qualls, so Qualls makes the 53.
At some point Beau Allen will be rejoining the team, which will beef up the line some as well.
Linebacker (6): Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Nathan Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Joe Walker
As we noted above, I think Najee Goode will be on the team this year. He just won't make the initial 53-man roster. The Eagles can release him at cutdowns, then bring him back after Week 1, when his salary won't be guaranteed. This strategy also gives them some flexibility in keeping another player elsewhere for a short time, which we did above at wide receiver.
The Eagles' linebacker depth is better than I thought it would be, as I've been impressed by some of the things that Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill can do.
Mychal Kendricks has actually had a pretty good camp (when he has been out there), and he made a big play in the first preseason game. Again, he remains a trade possibility.
Cornerback (5): Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, Rasul Douglas, C.J. Smith
With the addition of Darby, I believe Patrick Robinson's days are numbered. His contract has no guarantees, so it'll be extremely easy to cut bait with him in favor of a younger guy with promise, such as C.J. Smith.
The difficult cut here was Aaron Grymes, who is best suited for the slot. However, because safety Corey Graham has experience at corner and has played a lot of nickle in practice, he along with Malcolm Jenkins give the Eagles some added versatility here, so I feel comfortable only going with five and assuming Grymes makes it to the practice squad.
Safety (5): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Chris Maragos, Terrence Brooks
I would give Terrence Brooks the edge over Jaylen Watkins as the fifth safety at the moment, but I don't think it's a runaway. Brooks is more physical, but Watkins is better in coverage. What will the Eagles prefer?
Also, there's that dude who was killing Packers receivers last Thursday. With more strong showings in the final preseason games, he could become a dark horse roster candidate.
Specialists (3): Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos
NFI (Non-football injury list): DT Beau Allen, CB Sidney Jones
Practice squad (10): QB Dane Evans (but more likely some other team's released QB), RB Corey Clement, WR Shelton Gibson, TE Billy Brown, OL Darrell Greene, OL Tyler Orlosky, DE Alex McCalister, DT Justin Hamilton, LB Don Cherry, CB Aaron Grymes
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