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August 25, 2023

Final Eagles 53-man roster projection

Jimmy Kempski's breakdown of what he expects the Eagles' 53-man roster to be for Week 1.

Eagles NFL
Nick-Sirianni-Howie-Roseman-Eagles-training-camp_072722_298.jpg Colleen Claggett/PhillyVoice

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni.

The Philadelphia Eagles have wrapped up their preseason and have to cut down to 53 players by Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. And so, it's time to defend my title as King of the Eagles Beats đź‘‘ after my 51/53 winning roster projection a year ago. Let's update our 53-man roster projections one last time.

Quarterback (3): Jalen Hurts, Marcus Mariota, Tanner McKee

Others (1): Ian Book

Easy. Next.

Running back (4): D'Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny, Kenny Gainwell, Boston Scott

Others (2): Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks

Scott's value is diminished some by the new kickoff return rules, but he had a productive camp as a runner and will clearly make the team. Sermon is the odd man out.

Wide receiver (5): A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus, Britain Covey

Others (5): Joseph Ngata, Devon Allen, Jadon Haselwood, Greg Ward, Freddie Swain

In chatting up some of my Eagles reporter colleagues, apparently I'm in the minority in thinking that Covey will make the team. The prevailing thinking seems to be that he didn't do anything in camp or the preseason games to stamp his ticket to the roster, as he missed a big chunk of time with a hamstring injury. I do get that.

My counter would be that he is a player who could afford to miss time with an injury and still pretty easily make the roster because the Eagles don't have any other logical options at punt returner.

  1. DeVonta Smith could probably be a great punt returner, but it would be insane to risk injury to him on a punt return.
  2. Olamide Zaccheaus has gotten work as a punt returner while Covey has been sidelined, but he only has three career punt returns. In college he only had five, way back in 2015.
  3. Greg Ward has averaged 5.7 yards per punt return over his career, vs. 9.3 for Covey.
  4. Boston Scott has six career punt returns, all in 2019, and he muffed one of them.

Sure, the Eagles could screw around and cut Covey, hope he clears waivers, and then bring him back later. But why chance that? There's no need to overthink this. Covey is a reliable returner who finished the season strongly in 2022. If they throw some inexperienced returner out there Week 1, it creates a concern that didn't previously exist.

As a disclaimer, if Covey's hamstring injury is serious, then that's a different story, but I don't believe that to be the case.

Tight end (4): Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, Tyree Jackson

Others (2): Dan Arnold, Brady Russell

If I were in charge (I'm not), I don't believe that Jackson did enough to earn a roster spot, but it's worth noting that the Eagles have never cut him. Jackson's height-weight-speed profile remains sort of intriguing, and I don't think Howie Roseman is quite ready to quit him yet.

Offensive line (9): Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Cam Jurgens, Lane Johnson, Jack Driscoll, Tyler Steen, Fred Johnson, Sua Opeta

Others (8): Josh Sills, Dennis Kelly, Josh Andrews, Brett Toth, Roderick Johnson, Julian Good-Jones, Cameron Tom, Tyrese Robinson

The Eagles signed Fred Johnson to a two-year contract on Tuesday. He's this year's pre-camp longshot to crack the roster. 

The Eagles probably don't have to worry about another team claiming Sills, who was once indicted on rape charges (found not guilty, of course), and who didn't have a great preseason. They can safely bring him back to the practice squad if they so choose.

Kelly did not play well enough to make the roster.

Edge defenders (6): Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Nolan Smith, Derek Barnett, Patrick Johnson

Others (4): Kyron Johnson, Janarius Robinson, Tarron Jackson, Quinton Bell

Kyron Johnson vs. Patrick Johnson is a tough choice. Kyron is the better special teamer, but Patrick is the more valuable player in the regular defense. I think the Eagles value the latter more, even on these back of the roster decisions.

Interior defensive line (6): Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter, Milton Williams, Marlon Tuipulotu, Moro Ojomo

Others (5): Kentavius Street, Olive Sagopolu, Caleb Sanders, Marvin Wilson, Robert Cooper

The first four guys above are locks, of course, and Tuipulotu saved his roster spot with a good enough camp, in my opinion.

One question that is unanswered... How bad is Ojomo's concussion? It's not season-ending or the team would have likely already placed him on season-ending injured reserve. If he's going to be out for just a little while, the team could put him on short-term IR (four games), but he would have to make the initial 53-man roster. Once Ojomo goes on short-term IR, the Eagles could then add a player who didn't initially make the 53, like Nicholas Morrow or Kentavius Street, for example.

Interestingly, Street got the night off in the third preseason game, which usually means that he has made the team. Maybe the Eagles want to carry six linemen on gameday and Street is that sixth guy with Ojomo potentially out for a while? That would be the argument for him. The argument against Street is that he hasn't impressed throughout camp or the preseason games. I'm leaving him off, but may regret it.

Linebacker (3): Nakobe Dean, Zach Cunningham, Christian Elliss

Others (3): Nicholas Morrow, Ben VanSumeren, Tyreek Maddox-Williams

This is a tough position to figure out. Morrow is a vested vet, which means that he would not have to clear waivers if released. He could sign back with the Eagles in a scenario in which Ojomo goes on short-term IR after final cuts, as noted above. So, while we have the Eagles keeping three linebackers at final cuts, they would actually probably head into the season with four, whether that's with Morrow or some other guy they trade for or claim on waivers.

It's also worth noting that Nolan Smith, Terrell Edmunds, and even James Bradberry got reps on occasion at linebacker throughout camp, indicating that the team is prepared to go light here.

The other player to watch is VanSumeren, who the team likes as a special teamer, with some developmental upside. I imagine they'll take their chances that VanSumeren clears waivers and signs back to the practice squad.

Cornerback (6): Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Josh Jobe, Eli Ricks, Kelee Ringo

Others (3): Mario Goodrich, Josiah Scott, Mekhi Garner

If this were a true meritocracy, Ringo would not make this roster, but as a rookie who cost the Eagles a third-round pick in 2024, he was/is a lock. Expect him to be a gameday inactive for a while.

Ricks had strong outings against the Ravens and Colts, and played his way onto the roster. Goodrich could also get in as a backup slot corner, but in my opinion the Eagles don't need to fear him getting poached by some other team. 

There's a decent argument for Garner to make this roster as well, but the Eagles can't keep them all.

Safety (4): Reed Blankenship, Terrell Edmunds, Sydney Brown, Justin Evans

Others (2): K'Von Wallace, Tristin McCollum

Wallace played mop-up duty in each of the Eagles' last two preseason games. It is pretty clear that he is the fifth safety in the pecking order behind Blankenship, Edmunds, Brown, and Evans. Now in his fourth season, Wallace does not offer any sort of upside to be unlocked, and it's not as if his floor is high. He is not worth keeping around at the expense of a player with true upside, like Eli Ricks or Tyree Jackson, to name two.

Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Arryn Siposs, Rick Lovato

Others (0): None

The Eagles should be looking at the waiver wire for their 2023 punter. If they can't land anyone half-decent, they may be stuck with Siposs for a third season.

Injured reserve (5): LB Shaun Bradley, CB Zech McPhearson, WR Tyrie Cleveland, DT Noah Elliss, WR Charleston Rambo

Practice squad:

  1. RB Trey Sermon
  2. WR Devon Allen
  3. WR Joseph Ngata
  4. WR Greg Ward
  5. TE Brady Russell
  6. C/G Josh Andrews
  7. C/G Julian Good-Jones
  8. G/T Josh Sills
  9. EDGE Janarius Robinson
  10. EDGE Kyron Johnson
  11. DT Olive Sagopolu
  12. LB Ben VanSumeren
  13. LB Tyreek Maddox-Williams
  14. CB Mekhi Garner
  15. CB Mario Goodrich
  16. S K'Von Wallace

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