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May 03, 2023

Way-too-early Eagles 53-man roster projection

Before rookie camp rolls around, here's an Eagles 53-man roster projection.

Eagles NFL
050223JalenHurts Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The Philadelphia Eagles have yet to conduct a single practice, so is it a little early to project the their 53-man roster? Eh, each year, I find that the initial look at the 53-man roster is a good indicator of depth, both at the gameday limit, and the 53-man roster limit. 

Spoiler: It's still a pretty loaded roster! When a team is deep, it's easy to find 53 players to make the roster, and you have to make tough choices on which players to leave off it. When a team is not so deep, you might get to, say, 48 or 49 players that you think are roster-worthy, and then you struggle to figure out which practice squad-level guys get to make the final 53. After my first pass through it this year, I found that my journey to 53 was the former.

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

McKee and Ian Book will compete for the No. 3 quarterback spot in training camp. If the Eagles were high on Book, they wouldn't have signed Mariota and drafted McKee, so McKee is probably the favorite. If neither is worthy of a roster spot, the Eagles could also just roll with just two quarterbacks.

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

Trey Sermon remained on the roster all season in 2022, but he was a healthy scratch for all but two games. Scott is a known quantity and has the edge over Sermon. Giants games wouldn't be the same without him.

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

The Eagles don't have good depth on the outside, as Zaccheaus and Covey are slot receivers only. If Brown or Smith went down, Watkins would be a starting outside receiver. It's possible that the Eagles could add more depth before the start of the season, but they have steadfastly repeated their support for Watkins so I'm not sure we'll see that.

Tight end (3): Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra

There were some who wondered if the Eagles might address the tight end position in the draft, but we'll reiterate that they probably like Stoll a lot more than you do. And really, his role with the team is fine. The Eagles believe that he's a trustworthy blocker, and he makes the rare plays that come him in the passing game. He's fine as a TE2 who doesn't require targets on a star-studded offense. 

The Eagles will also continue to develop Calcaterra, who is more of a pass-catching tight end. I wonder if he might get consideration for snaps in the Zach Pascal role?

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

Last year the Eagles kept 10 offensive linemen. We'll see if there's an unexpected standout in camp, but for now the Eagles' line isn't as deep as it was a year ago. They do have some nice depth pieces, though. Driscoll brings guard-tackle versatility, and they think Steen will as well after selecting him with a high third-round pick. Otherwise, Opeta has appeared in the regular offense in 17 games (five starts), and the Eagles have demonstrated that they see something in Toth as a capable backup, seeing as he stuck on the 53-man roster all season in 2021 before spending the entirety of 2022 on the PUP list while recovering from an ACL tear.

Yesterday, we published an article listing the Eagles' remaining holes to fill, post-draft, and offensive line help was absent, which prompted some to wonder why it was omitted. There are plenty of teams that have far less OL depth than the Eagles, and some that still desperately need help. Hell, Driscoll could probably start for a bunch of teams and will probably get paid decent money in free agency next offseason. The point here is that it's May. If there were anyone worth signing at a reasonable cost on the open market, they'd already be on a roster.

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

Barnett's roster spot is far from guaranteed, and it will be interesting to see if the Eagles release him once he is able to pass a physical.

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

Kentavious Street will have a chance to compete for a roster spot, but here I have him as the odd man out after the Eagles drafted two defensive tackles in Carter and Ojomo.

Linebacker (4): Nakobe Dean, Nicholas Morrow, Christian Elliss, Shaun Bradley

Dean and Morrow could become a decent starting duo, or, you know, maybe not. Time will tell 🤷‍♂️. Regardless, the Eagles are going to have to add another playable linebacker.

Cornerback (5): Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Kelee Ringo

McPhearson has become a valuable contributor on special teams, and he has looked fine in games in which he has had to fill in at outside corner, but the team has curiously not asked him to play in the slot in his first two seasons despite playing inside at times in college. It would make sense for the Eagles to put more on his plate in 2023 and save themselves a roster spot on a dedicated backup slot.

Safety (5): Reed Blankenship, Terrell Edmunds, Sydney Brown, Justin Evans, K'Von Wallace

Blankenship, Edmunds, and Brown will compete for two starting spots.

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

If the Eagles had signed a legit veteran punter or drafted one, I'd be penciling that guy in as the team's punter this season. BUT... they reportedly signed an undrafted free agent in Ty Zentner. For a guy like that to beat Siposs out for a job, he will probably have to be emphatically better in camp. Siposs has faltered in important games, but he has looked fine in camp. He could be tough to beat out even after disastrous ends to the last two seasons.

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