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August 23, 2015

Eagles 53-man roster projection, version 3.0

Eagles NFL
Depth chart sand Jimmy Kempski/for PhillyVoice

Training camp is complete, and we are already two games deep into the preseason. With the first round of cut-downs eight days away, let's take an updated look at what the final 53-man roster may look like.

• 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

Bradford played in his first game since tearing his ACL for the second time, took a few big hits, and didn't die. Sanchez, Barkley, and Tebow have all had shaky performances overall in the two preseason games, particularly Sanchez, although Sanchez isn't going anywhere. He's a lock, and will be Bradford's backup. 

Because Tebow has a different skill set and the Eagles simply want to keep him, Barkley had to do something special to stick with the team, and he has not. Also, yes, I realize that Tebow's inclusion on the inactive list would of course eliminate his added skill set. At some point, players on the roster will get hurt, and some of the inactive will have to fill in. That could be when Tebow sees some action in real games.

Changes from last time: None.

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

Murray and Mathews will be the primary runners in the Eagles offense, with Sproles splitting time at running back and slot receiver. Barner has been awesome in the preseason, returning two punts for touchdowns, while also serving as a player Chip Kelly can trust in a pinch (cough, Oregon, cough).

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: Kenjon Barner in.

Practice squad watch: Raheem Mostert

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

In my view, this group has, and will remain unchanged from the beginning of camp until the final 53 is released, barring injury. The one surprise player here who has really stood out has been Rasheed Bailey, who has made a claim to make the practice squad.

Changes from last time: None.

Practice squad watch: Rasheed Bailey, G.J. Kinne, Quron Pratt,

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.

Practice squad watch: Eric Tomlinson

Offensive line (8): Jason PetersAllen BarbreJason KelceAndrew GardnerLane Johnson, Matt Tobin, David Molk, John Moffitt

Peters, Barbre, Kelce, Gardner and Johnson are the clear starters right now, and depth is a serious issue. Tobin is a guy who may be OK filling in at all four spots other than center, with Molk being the primary center backup who can play guard in an emergency. Moffitt has been rusty, but the team seems to like his potential and he does not have practice squad eligibility, which could actually work in his favor.

Keeping only eight offensive linemen would be going against the grain to some degree, but keeping nine or ten would mean cutting better players elsewhere on the roster. I'd prefer to roll with eight guys on the 53, and keep at least two on the practice squad.

Changes from last time: Kevin Graf out.

Practice squad watch: Brett Boyko, Malcolm Bunche, Kevin Graf

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

The Eagles are stacked along the defensive line, which will make it difficult to keep everyone they would like to keep. With Vinny Curry moving to OLB, I like rookie seventh round pick Brian Mihalik's chances a little better. He's in.

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

Practice squad watch: Travis Raciti, Wade Keliikipi

Outside linebacker (5): Connor BarwinBrandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Bryan Braman, Marcus Smith

With Travis Long gone for the season and Marcus Smith banged up, Vinny Curry's move here became somewhat of a necessity. Curry will back up Graham at the predator spot, with Braman and Smith backing up at the jack spot. I have Smith opening up the season on the inactive list. Brad Jones (listed among the ILBs) can also fill in at OLB in a pinch.

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

Practice squad watch: None

Inside linebacker (5): Kiko AlonsoDeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brad Jones, Jordan Hicks

Alonso, Ryans and Kendricks have not yet played in a preseason game, but they could all play Week 3 of the preseason in Green Bay. Jones brings versatility to the table, and Hicks has looked good, but he'll likely be inactive on game day due to the Eagles' impressive depth roster-wide.

Changes from last time: None

Practice squad watch: None

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

I really don't want to cut Denzel Rice, but he's a victim of the numbers games here. If the Eagles have to cut him, he would be the one player I'd most worry about being poached by another team. Watkins has looked good in coverage during the preseason, but his tackling needs work. Meanwhile, Biggers has been very good throughout camp and the preseason, and has earned a spot.

Changes from last time: Denzel Rice out.

Practice squad watch: Denzel Rice, Randall Evans

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

Jenkins and Thurmond might actually the first good pair of Eagles safeties in a long time, but the Eagles lack depth there in terms of a player who can fill in on the regular defense if either guy goes down. But you know who else has depth issues at safety? Like... every other team in the NFL. While Ed Reynolds had two picks against the Colts and Jerome Couplin has shown he can be a physical tackler, it's hard to fit either player onto the 53 man roster. I'd try to stash both guys on the practice squad and hope they stick.

Changes from last time: None

Practice squad watch: Jerome Couplin, Ed Reynolds

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

Personally, I'd like to keep Kip Smith just so the Eagles can have him kick PATs for my entertainment in blowouts.

Changes from last time: None.

Practice squad (10):

  1. QB/RB/WR G.J. Kinne
  2. RB Raheem Mostert
  3. WR Rasheed Bailey
  4. TE Eric Tomlinson
  5. OL Brett Boyko
  6. OL Malcolm Bunche
  7. CB Denzel Rice
  8. CB Randall Evans
  9. S Ed Reynolds
  10. S Jerome Couplin

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