July 21, 2023
The Philadelphia Eagles are the reigning NFC champs, and favorites to go back to the Super Bowl in 2023, even after losing five starters on defense and one on offense in free agency. Still, it's a loaded roster with star players and (mostly) good depth. Let's take an early crack at who will make the team before the start of training camp.
Quarterback (3): Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Tanner McKee
Others (1): Ian Book
The Eagles have kept two quarterbacks on some occasions in the past, but they prefer to keep three. With the new "emergency quarterback" rule spawned from the 49ers' offseason cry-fest, teams are more incentivized to keep three. The Eagles will have a competition between McKee and Book for that third quarterback job, with McKee being the favorite.
Running back (4): D'Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny, Kenny Gainwell, Boston Scott
Others (2): Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks
Swift and Gainwell are locks to make the roster, and Penny isn't far behind, though he has to prove that he can stay healthy.
The fourth running back spot is where it gets interesting. Scott has been with the team since 2018 and has earned the trust of the staff and the front office over the last five years, so he is the favorite to beat out Sermon for a roster spot. However, it's worth noting that with the new "fair catch" kickoff rules (you can now call a fair catch and get the ball at the 25), Scott's value as the kick returner is diminished some.
Wide receiver (5): A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus, Britain Covey
Others (6): Devon Allen, Joseph Ngata, Jadon Haselwood, Tyrie Cleveland, Greg Ward, Charleston Rambo
Watkins and Zaccheaus will battle it out for the starting slot receiver job, and Covey's roster spot is probably safe as he'll almost certainly resume his role as the team's primary punt returner.
The question at wide receiver is whether the Eagles will keep more than five. Allen has elite speed, while Ngata has some bulk and was the team's highest-paid undrafted rookie free agent. Those two guys are my top two picks to earn a surprise roster spot at wide receiver, with Haselwood coming in at No. 3.
Tight end (3): Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra
Others (4): Dan Arnold, Tyree Jackson, Brady Russell, Dalton Keene
Stoll feels like something close to a lock to make the team at this point, and Calcaterra will have to show some improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, but he is probably safe.
Can one of the other four tight ends stand out in camp? Arnold is an experienced vet and Jackson once showed promise before suffering a few injury setbacks.
Offensive line (9): Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Cam Jurgens, Lane Johnson, Jack Driscoll, Tyler Steen, Brett Toth, Dennis Kelly
Others (8): Sua Opeta, Roderick Johnson, Fred Johnson, Trevor Reid, Julian Good-Jones, Cameron Tom, Tyrese Robinson, Chim Okorafor
The Eagles tend to go heavy along the offensive line, and here we have nine making the team. The young player to watch in camp is Reid, who has impressive athletic measurables, and could be a player Jeff Stoutland attempts to groom behind the scenes. When young offensive linemen impress in preseason games, the Eagles have shown that they will carry them on the 53, even if it's highly likely they won't play meaningful snaps as rookies. It seems that every three years, the Eagles keep an undrafted rookie free agent offensive lineman:
With Sills on the Commissioner's Exempt List, there's opportunity for Reid to impress and crack the roster. For now we'll leave him off.
Edge defenders (6): Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Nolan Smith, Derek Barnett, Patrick Johnson
Others (4): Kyron Johnson, Janarius Robinson, Tarron Jackson, Matt Leo
The player to watch here is Barnett, who was still recovering from his torn ACL during OTAs. I believe that Barnett is potential trade candidate. He has a base salary of $1,080,000, so he'd be a cheap player for any new team to acquire. If he eventually passes a physical and shows that he is healthy in the preseason, I could see him getting dealt for some small return, like a future Day 3 pick or perhaps linebacker depth.
The other player to watch is 2022 sixth-round pick Kyron Johnson, who was getting reps off-ball linebacker during OTAs. Johnson played some off-ball linebacker in college and the Eagles need more depth at linebacker than they do on the edge, so cross-training him makes sense, but it also probably reveals that he is behind Patrick Johnson on the depth chart on the edge.
Interior defensive line (6): Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter, Milton Williams, Marlon Tuipulotu, Moro Ojomo
Others (2): Kentavius Street, Noah Elliss
Tuipulotu, Ojomo, Street, and Elliss will be competing for what will probably be two open iDL spots. Tuipulotu and Ojomo have an advantage as players who were drafted by the team.
Linebacker (3): Nakobe Dean, Nicholas Morrow, Christian Elliss
Others (3): Shaun Bradley, Davion Taylor, Ben VanSumeren
If the roster remains as is, I could see the Eagles going light at linebacker, with guys like Bradley or Taylor being called up from the practice squad should they be needed in case of injury. Safety Terrell Edmunds could also theoretically play something of a safety/linebacker hybrid role.
This is clearly the shakiest positional group on the roster, and it feels likely that Howie Roseman will add a linebacker at some point between now and Week 1.
Cornerback (6): Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Kelee Ringo, Josh Jobe
Others (5): Josiah Scott, Greedy Williams, Eli Ricks, Mekhi Garner, Mario Goodrich
The Eagles are deep at corner, with very good starters and intriguing young prospects in the pipeline. If there were one position I could see Roseman going ultra heavy, it would be here.
If they "only" keep six, I like Jobe's chances of cracking the roster over Williams or the two rookie UDFAs (Ricks and Garner).
Safety (5): Reed Blankenship, Terrell Edmunds, Sydney Brown, K'Von Wallace, Justin Evans
Others (1): Tristin McCollum
If the Eagles add a linebacker (as I suspect they will), then it would be tougher to keep five safeties. Wallace or Evans would of course have to fall off if they only kept four.
Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Arryn Siposs, Rick Lovato
Others (1): Ty Zentner
Siposs is probably going to win his competition over Zentner. 😐.
Brandon Gowton and I also went a little deeper on our pre-camp roster projections. Listen below (BGN Radio #328). And here's the iTunes link. Review, subscribe, etc.
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports
Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader