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May 09, 2019

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

Eagles NFL
050819NateSudfeld The News Journal/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles quarterbacks Carson Wentz, right, and Nate Sudfeld

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? Since we're heading into the Eagles' rookie minicamp -- AKA the first practice of the offseason -- this Friday, let's just do this.

Quarterback (3): Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson

If you think the Eagles are going to waive Clayton Thorson at final cutdowns to try to sneak him on their practice, think again. They used a fifth-round pick on him in a draft in which they only had five picks. Unless he is absolutely atrocious, he's making the team. He'll simply be the 53rd man on the roster and a healthy scratch each week.

Running back (4): Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood

Clement is a bit of wildcard, in that there's little clarity on the injury he sustained last season. Was it a torn ACL, or something less serious? If it was an ACL, he could start the season on the PUP list, which would make room for another player on the roster. For now, we'll project that he'll be ready for the regular season.

Also, while Smallwood is unspectacular, he is certainly NFL roster-worthy, and the Eagles have needed him every year he's been in the league. He's a safer fourth running back than Josh Adams, who still has practice squad eligibility.

Wide receiver (5): Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins

The first four guys are locks, and no, I don't think Agholor is getting traded at this point. Hollins should be a lock as well, again, provided he's healthy. At a minimum, he's a core special teamer.

The Eagles could keep six receivers, with Braxton Miller and Shelton Gibson being the top two contenders for that spot.

Tight end (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers

Josh Perkins showed some versatility last season, filling in at wide receiver when the Eagles were decimated by injuries, but there just isn't enough room on the 53..

Offensive tackle (5): Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jordan Mailata

The Eagles are loaded with offensive tackle talent, and while there's a chance the team could trade Vaitai, I don't see that happening. Offensive linemen (especially offensive tackles) get paid in free agency, even if they aren't ideal starters. Should Vaitai make it to free agency in 2020, there's a decent argument to be made that he could see a contract big enough to qualify for, oh, say, a fourth round compensatory pick in 2021. Therefore, by my logic, the Eagles shouldn't settle for anything less than a 3 in 2020 if they were to trade him. Since nobody is going to pay that price, Vaitai is likely to just remain on the team.

Interior offensive line (4): Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Pryor

We'll see (a) if Brooks is ready to go for the regular season and (b) if the team adds another interior offensive lineman, which I believe is a decent possibility.

Defensive end (6): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Shareef Miller, Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall

Graham, Barnett, Curry, and Miller are locks. I can't say the same for Sweat, I don't think, who needs to show some kind of progression from Year 1 to Year 2 after a disappointing rookie season. Meanwhile, Howie Roseman has given Hall some love this offseason. Hall played well on special teams and actually made some plays in the regular defense in limited action last season. He's my early dark horse to make the roster.

Defensive tackle (5): Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Timmy Jernigan, Treyvon Hester, Hassan Ridgeway

Roseman stated that the Eagles have been trying to trade for Ridgeway for a while now, and they were finally able to get him during the draft. Obviously, we're projecting here that the Eagles go heavy on the defensive line.

Linebacker (5): Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown, Kamu Grugier-Hill, L.J. Fort, Nate Gerry

The Eagles will probably keep six linebackers, even though we only have five here. When someone gets hurt before the start of the season, that will open up an extra spot for one, which will be up for grabs between Paul Worrilow and undrafted free agent T.J. Edwards. 

Cornerback (6): Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, Cre'Von LeBlanc

I think there's a chance that the Eagles trade one of their corners before the start of the season. If not, they'll roll with these six corners.

Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Blake Countess, Tre Sullivan

Yes, the Eagles signed Andrew Sendejo, and I think they'll cut him to preserve a fourth-round compensatory pick that Sendejo would otherwise cancel out.

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

None of these guys have any competition.

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