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September 03, 2015

Eagles 53-man roster projection, final version

Eagles NFL

Final cuts are on the way, and soon the Eagles' 53-man roster will be in place. So it's time to separate the men from the boys. My final 53-man roster projection:

• Green = Projected starter

• Black = Active Week 1

• Red = Projected Week 1 inactive

As always, Chip Kelly would say the depth chart is written in sand:

Quarterback (3): Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow

Sam Bradford will probably make the team. I think. And, of course, Mark Sanchez will be his backup. As for the third spot, Matt Barkley just hasn't done enough to stick. He will always have a below-average NFL arm, and his other attributes do not make up for that deficiency. Not to mention, the team has been trying to trade him for well over a year now.

Personally, I feel like the Eagles should release both Barkley and Tim Tebow. Perhaps the move going forward is to just roll with two quarterbacks. However, as we noted back in the beginning of August, I got the strong sense talking with people with knowledge of the Eagles' thinking they intended to not only keep Tebow, but use him. I do not think that thinking has changed.

Changes from last time: None.

Running back (4): DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner

Murray, Matthews, and Sprolesy form the best trio of running backs in the league. Beyond those guys, two players have made a case to make the 53 man roster. Kenyon Barner had two punt return touchdowns, which make him a lock to be snapped up by some other team if the Eagles cut him. On the flip side, what exactly does Barner do for the Eagles? They already have one of the best punt returners in the game in Darren Sproles, and Barner is never seeing the field as a running back unless a couple guys get hurt. So the question becomes, do you keep a guy who's little more than insurance? My sense is that they will.

The one intriguing player here is Raheem Mostert, who looks like he could be a developmental player. Mostert caught the ball well out of the backfield all throughout camp, and that carried over into the preseason games. He has also run well and contributed on special teams. He feels like a lock for the practice squad if some other team doesn't poach him.

Changes from last time: None.

Wide receiver (6): Jordan MatthewsNelson AgholorJosh Huff, Riley Cooper, Miles Austin, Seyi Ajirotutu

This group has remained unchanged since the first roster projection back in OTAs. The one surprise player here who has really stood out has been Rasheed Bailey, who is unlikely to make the team but has made a claim to make the practice squad.

Changes from last time: None.

Tight end (3): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton

Ertz's injury makes the tight end position somewhat of a mystery, but the Eagles seem fairly confident that he'll be ready for Week 1. Even if he isn't, the Eagles can survive with two tight ends for a few weeks while he recovers. While Eric Tomlinson has produced, none of the undrafted free agent tight ends have stood out to the degree where you have to have them active Week 1, or where you'd be scared of some other team poaching them off your practice squad. If you keep one on the final 53, you're cutting another good player elsewhere. I think the Eagles will keep just the trio above, regardless of Ertz's early potential unavailability. 

Changes from last time: None.

Offensive line (9): Jason PetersAllen BarbreJason KelceAndrew GardnerLane Johnson, Matt Tobin, David Molk, Dennis Kelly, Malcolm Bunche

The starting five along the OL is set. As for the backups, David Molk will almost certainly be the reserve center and Matt Tobin the primary backup at the four other spots along the offensive line. Dennis Kelly has guard-tackle versatility and has been in Chip Kelly's offense for two years already, while Malcolm Bunche proved he can move defensive linemen against their will in the run game, albeit against third and fourth teamers.

The really difficult cut here is John Moffitt, who stunk in the preseason, but the team really hoped would show something. He may stick anyway. Moffitt vs. Bunche was my most difficult call.

Changes from last time: John Moffitt out, Dennis Kelly and Malcolm Bunche in.

Defensive line (7): Fletcher CoxBennie LoganCedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart

The Eagles are stacked along the defensive line, which will make it difficult to keep everyone they would like to keep. Brian Mihalik is the odd man out here. Perhaps the Eagles can get him to agree he has some kind of BS injury that would require his inclusion on injured reserve.

Changes from last time: Vinny Curry moved to DE from OLB, Brian Mihalik out.

Outside linebacker (4): Connor BarwinBrandon Graham, Bryan Braman, Marcus Smith

The only player here who is not a lock is Marcus Smith, who was playing better than he played in camp a year ago before he got hurt. Smith's injury leaves the Eagles even thinner at OLB than they already were after they lost Travis Long for the season with a torn ACL. Smith has undoubtedly frustrated the Eagles' staff with his disappointing play for a guy they drafted in the first round. However, it would be a tough pill to swallow to cut a first round pick before he even entered his second year with the team, and the reality is that they actually need him.

Brad Jones is listed as an ILB, but he provides depth on the edge as well.

Changes from last time: Vinny Curry moved to DE from OLB.

Inside linebacker (5): Kiko AlonsoMychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Brad Jones, Jordan Hicks

Alonso, Ryans, Kendricks, Hicks and Jones are all locks, in my opinion. The one question is whether the Eagles can find a way to keep Najee Goode, who has played well this offseason.

Changes from last time: None

Cornerback (5): Byron MaxwellNolan Carroll, Eric Rowe, E.J. Biggers, Jaylen Watkins

The final two spots here are the ones in question. Jaylen Watkins has looked good in coverage during the preseason, but his tackling needs work. Meanwhile, Biggers has been good throughout camp and the preseason, and has earned a spot, possibly as the primary slot corner.

Changes from last time: None

Safety (4): Malcolm JenkinsWalter Thurmond, Chris Maragos, Chris Prosinski

The Eagles have a pair of very good special teamers in Chris Maragos and Chris Prosinski at safety, but ideally, you would not want them playing safety in the regular defense. Maragos is a lock to make the final 53, while Prosinski's job is not assured. The two players to watch were Ed Reynolds and Jerome Couplin, who are more traditional safeties, as opposed to "special teams guys." Reynolds had a pair of picks in the first preseason game against the Colts, and Couplin has done some nice things as well. But ultimately neither of them likely did enough to justify a roster spot. I'd try to stash both guys on the practice squad and hope at least one of them sticks.

Changes from last time: None

Specialists (3): Cody Parkey, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos


Changes from last time: None.

Practice squad (10):

  1. RB Raheem Mostert
  2. WR Rasheed Bailey
  3. WR Jeff Maehl
  4. TE Eric Tomlinson
  5. OL Brett Boyko
  6. OLB Diaheem Watkins
  7. CB Denzel Rice
  8. CB Randall Evans
  9. S Ed Reynolds
  10. S Jerome Couplin

Phantom injury list (1):

  1. DE Brian Mihalik

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski