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August 22, 2018

Eagles 53-man roster projection, before the 'dress rehearsal game'

Eagles NFL
081918DougPederson Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports

Doug.

On the eve of the Philadelphia Eagles' third preseason game, AKA the "dress rehearsal game," against the Carson Wentz-trading Cleveland Browns, let's go ahead and update our 53-man roster projections.

Quarterback (3): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld

Nate Sudfeld, 2018 NFL MVP.

Running back (4): Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Josh Adams

Matt Jones can't catch, Wendell Smallwood is probably out of opportunities, and Donnel Pumphrey can't stay on the field. It's kind of crazy that an undrafted free agent in Adams, who really hasn't done a hell of a lot to win the job on his own merit, is likely far ahead of the pack for the fourth running back job.

I expect Adams to make the team at 53-man cutdowns, but he may have to sweat it out for a few days as the Eagles scour the waiver wire for available running backs. Ultimately, because the Eagles won the Super Bowl, there will likely be slim pickings available at running back, tight end, or whatever other position they may want to address because they'll be last in the pecking order on waiver wire priority.

Wide receiver (5): Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson

As I noted last week, I was told the team likes Kamar Aiken for some reason, but he has zero catches in the preseason, and didn't do much in training camp either. His roster spot isn't justifiable unless Alshon Jeffery is expected to be out for an extended period of time. As a friend noted offline, Aiken is also a candidate for the "Najee Goode treatment," in that he could be released at cutdowns and then brought back after Week 1, when his salary would no longer be guaranteed.

Here we'll project the Eagles to keep just five receivers and instead go heavy at tight end.

Tight end (4): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers, Josh Perkins

Rodgers was a lock to make the team, but he now has an ailing knee that Doug Pederson classified as a somewhat more serious week-to-week injury. He was in some sort of air cast / brace contraption yesterday and looked pretty gimpy to me. Having no medical degree nor any kind of hard info on Rodgers' injury, I believe there's a good chance Rodgers won't be ready for the start of the regular season, which opens the door for a fourth tight end to make the club. 

We'll project that tight end to be Josh Perkins, who has made a quality NFL roster in the past, spending the entirety of his rookie season (2016) with the Atlanta Falcons, and even starting a game. In 2017, Perkins spent the season on Atlanta's practice squad. He could maybe also double as a resource for the coaching staff leading up to the Eagles' Week 1 game against Atlanta.

Sorry, Billy Brown fans.

Offensive line (9): Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Matt Pryor, Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack

In previous 53-man roster projections, we noted that Jordan Mailata was a great candidate for injured reserve, so that he can learn the game off to the side while not occupying a roster spot. Some argued that Mailata won't get better if he can't practice with the team, which would be the case if he were on IR.

While that is certainly a point worth considering, the feeling here is that Mailata wouldn't even be a functional practice player. In training camp practices, while he made improvements along the way, he was going up against guys like Josh Sweat and Danny Ezechukwu, and was often getting roasted. If he had to face off against, say, Michael Bennett or Brandon Graham, those guys would tear him apart. 

The primary function of the practice squad (and the guys on the back end of the 53-man roster) is to help make the players on the active 46 better, and I'm not sure Mailata can reasonably do that. Mailata can still get better practicing his techniques off to the side while on IR. He just can't maximize his ability to get better playing against his teammates every day, but that shouldn't be at the expense of giving guys like Graham and Bennett quality reps all season in practice, when the team is the NFC favorite to go to the Super Bowl.

To note, if the team can't get Mailata on IR, there's no way they are cutting him. He will unquestionably make the roster in some form.

Otherwise, one change that I have here is Warmack making the roster. Warmack has not played well, but if Jeff Stoutland wants him (and I think he will), he'll probably win that argument over keeping someone like, say, CB D.J. Killings. My apologies. It's just the read I have at the moment.

Defensive line (10): Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Destiny Vaeao, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Haloti Ngata, Josh Sweat, Steven Means, Bruce Hector

I have no changes this time around. The belief here is that the Eagles will go heavy on their defensive line, because (A) they rotate those guys so much, and (B) that's where they have the most talent on their roster.

I think the team would like to find a way to get Sweat on IR, but I'm not sure what motivation Sweat would have to be agreeable to that.

Linebacker (5): Jordan Hicks, Nate Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Joe Walker, LaRoy Reynolds

Corey Nelson feels like an afterthought at this point. And of course, Nigel Bradham will return to the team after he serves his one week suspension.

Cornerback (6): Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, De'Vante Bausby

Bausby's stock has sunk a bit, but I still have him making the club. The rest feels fairly obvious, barring a trade of Darby or Douglas.

Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Tre Sullivan

Again, there are no changes here, though I don't think Sullivan's spot is safe. He still has work to do, but for now, we'll leave him on. 

Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato

No changes here, for now.

Reserve/Suspended

  1. Nigel Bradham

PUP/NFI list 

  1. DT Timmy Jernigan (NFI)
  2. S Chris Maragos (PUP)

Injured reserve

  1. LB Paul Worrilow
  2. CB Elie Bouka

Injured reserve (redshirt edition)

  1. OT Jordan Mailata

Practice squad

  1. Some RB that got cut from another roster
  2. WR Greg Ward
  3. WR Rashard Davis
  4. TE Billy Brown
  5. OT Toby Weathersby
  6. OL Darrell Greene
  7. DE Joe Ostman
  8. DT Elijah Qualls
  9. S Stephen Roberts
  10. CB D.J. Killings


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