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May 05, 2020

My (mostly) useless, way-too-early Eagles 53-man roster projection

Yes, it's dumb to project what the Eagles' roster will look like when we're only in May and the Birds have yet to conduct a single practice. Still, guessing on a 53-man roster does provide one way of looking at the roster in terms of camp battles to watch, as well as where the team is positionally strong, and where it is weak.

So, what the hell? Let's just do this.

Quarterback (3): Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Jalen Hurts

Without OTAs and minicamp, and likely some altered version of training camp, it's going to be very difficult to get Hurts to where he needs to be in learning a pro playbook in time for the 2020 season. It's also pretty likely that Wentz will get more reps than normal during training camp, which will leave fewer opportunities for the backups.

With Sudfeld entering his fourth year with the team, and thus now having a deep knowledge of the playbook, the bet here is that he will be the No. 2 to start the season, while Hurts progresses behind the scenes.

Running back (4): Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Corey Clement, Elijah Holyfield

Undrafted free agent Michael Warren should challenge Holyfield for a roster spot, and there's also a good chance the Eagles add another veteran running back this offseason. We won't guess on who that will be, for now.

Wide receiver (7): DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, John Hightower, Quez Watkins, Marquise Goodwin

Jackson, Reagor, and Arcega-Whiteside are all obvious locks, with Ward not far behind.

Beyond those four, it'll be difficult to keep all three of Hightower, Watkins, and Goodwin. Since it's difficult picking one out of hat and projecting them not to make the team, for now we'll keep all three.

Of the other receivers not named above who at least had a cup of coffee with the team last season, I believe Deontay Burnett has the best chance of upsetting the field and earning a roster spot.

The obvious omission here is Alshon Jeffery. Howie Roseman will hang onto Jeffery for a while and try to trade him as his foot heals, but bringing him back for Year 3 of his quarterback bashing distraction tour would be borderline reckless.

Tight end (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins

Even if he isn't good at either spot, the team seems to like Perkins' WR/TE versatility. They should be (but will they be?) on the hunt for a better TE3 as the season approaches.

Offensive line (9): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll, Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig

Yes, right or wrong the belief here is that the team will bring back Peters, fearing the idea of handing over the LT reins to Dillard, who did not play well (even at LT) last season as a rookie.

If Peters is indeed back, then rookie sixth-round pick Prince Tega Wonogho feels like a good IR redshirt candidate.

I was tempted to have UDFA Luke Juriga beating out Herbig, but the shortened offseason is going to add a layer of difficulty for undrafted free agents to make the team.

Defensive end (5): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Vinny Curry, Genard Avery 

The Eagles still need to add another DE who can play on the second line, on any down and distance, opposite Josh Sweat. That's not Avery, who should not play on run downs, in our view, and is probably best suited as a linebacker / rush specialist hybrid. Ideally that guy would be Shareef Miller, a 2019 fourth-round pick, but he didn't see the field at all last season, despite a number of DE injuries. Curry would be a boring addition, but he was reasonably effective last season (5 sacks), and his price tag should be very low this late in the offseason.

Rookie seventh-round pick Casey Toohill is a good practice squad candidate. Joe Ostman would have made the team last year, if not for a torn ACL that wrecked his season, so he's also someone to watch, though it's hard to find a fit for him with Avery on the roster. 

Defensive tackle (4): Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway

Also watch out for Raequan Williams, a draftable player the Eagles scooped up as a UDFA. He's practice squad material, but will have a good chance of cracking the roster if there's an injury to any of these four guys.

Linebacker (5): Nate Gerry, T.J. Edwards, Duke Riley, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley

Yeesh. The linebackers aren't looking awesome. Taylor and Bradley both have some upside, but neither are likely to contribute in the regular defense as rookies. Jatavis Brown and Alex Singleton are victims of a numbers crunch.

Cornerback (5): Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sidney Jones, Cre'Von LeBlanc

Rasul Douglas is going to count for $2,309,572 on the cap in 2020. The team isn't going to keep him on the roster at that number, so it's likely that he'll be released if the team can't find a trade partner for him. 

Safety (5): Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, K'Von Wallace, Will Parks, Grayland Arnold

Wallace is the most likely rookie to contribute this season, after Jalen Reagor. I would already have him over Parks as the third safety.

Arnold is a UDFA to watch this offseason. He had a good, productive career at Baylor, including six picks in 2019, but some really bad size/athleticism measurables kept him from being drafted. He fits the "positionless" theme the Eagles view in their secondary. He mostly played corner at Baylor, but we'll project him as a safety with the Eagles.

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

None of these guys have any competition.

PUP: Daeshon Hall, maybe Alshon Jeffery

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