More Sports:

May 20, 2024

Way-too-early Eagles 53-man roster projection

There will be a battle at the wide receiver position behind A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith for roster spots.

Eagles NFL
051824LaneJohnsonJalenHurts Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Lane Johnson and Jalen Hurts have a pretty good chance of making the Eagles' 53-man roster, in my opinion.

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. With Eagles OTAs kicking off on Monday, now feels like the appropriate time to guess on the team's Week 1 roster.

Quarterback (3): Jalen Hurts, Kenny Pickett, Tanner McKee

This offseason, the Eagles signed Will Grier, who has played for Kellen Moore both in Dallas and Los Angeles. He's a rare QB4 worth keeping an eye on in training camp, even if a longshot to make the roster. He could challenge Tanner McKee, though I believe McKee has a better chance of beating out Pickett for the QB2 job than he does of losing a roster spot altogether to Grier.

Running back (3): Saquon Barkley, Kenny Gainwell, Will Shipley

The Eagles kept a fourth running back in 2022 (Trey Sermon) and 2023 (Rashaad Penny) and didn't use them. They kept just three running backs on the roster for most of the 2021 season and led the NFL in rushing. There's perhaps some wisdom in keeping a fourth running back in 2024, given Barkley's injury history, but who?

Wide receiver (6): A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, DeVante Parker, Ainias Smith, Johnny Wilson, Britain Covey

The Eagles signed two uninspiring veteran receivers this offseason in DeVante Parker and Parris Campbell. I believe one of those guys will make the roster simply for their experience, and Parker offers more than Campbell, in my opinion.

There's some question as to whether Covey should make the roster or not, since the Eagles drafted three players — Cooper DeJean, Will Shipley, and Ainias Smith — who were good returners in college. We got into deeper detail on that debate here, but the CliffsNotes version is that college return success doesn't always translate to the NFL, and Covey was arguably the best punt returner in the NFL last season. It would be silly to cut him and put the return team's success at risk.

As for the two rookies, Smith will very likely contribute in some way on special teams, while Wilson may not. As such, Smith is a safer bet to make the roster if they only keep five receivers, but I have Wilson on for now.

Tight end (3): Dallas Goedert, C.J. UzomahMcCallan Castles

Grant Calcaterra and Albert Okwuegbunam are also in the mix, but I believe the Castles has some legitimate skills and could challenge for a roster spot as an undrafted rookie free agent at a position where the Eagles don't have good depth.

Offensive line (9): Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Cam Jurgens, Tyler Steen, Lane Johnson, Trevor Keegan, Dylan McMahon, Matt Hennessey, Mekhi Becton

I don't consider Becton a lock to make the roster, as incumbent Fred Johnson could certainly earn a spot over him. Otherwise, Keegan, Hennessey and McMahon feel like pretty good bets to make the team, assuming none of them are atrocious in camp.

Edge defenders (5): Bryce Huff, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Nolan Smith, Jalyx Hunt

These five guys are all locks, and then there's also Zack Baun, who we'll get to momentarily.

Interior defensive line (5): Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, Marlon Tuipulotu, Moro Ojomo

The Eagles' interior defensive line depth is thin. They could add another veteran, or maybe P.J. Mustipher will impress in camp, but for now it's hard to keep anyone beyond these five guys.

Linebacker (5): Nakobe Dean, Devin White, Zack Baun, Oren Burks, Jeremiah Trotter

One of the Eagles' offseason signings was Baun, who played both on the edge and at off-ball linebacker for the Saints. Because he played a lot more on the edge, the general feeling was that he would primarily play there in Philly as well. However, Vic Fangio said during his initial press conference that Baun will play off-ball linebacker, and even mentioned him first when asked about the linebackers in general. So, you know, that's why we have Baun here, but he also has the versatility to play on the edge.

Ben VanSumeren would have been my 54th guy, just FYI.

Cornerback (7): Darius Slay, Quinyon Mitchell, Cooper DeJean, Avonte Maddox, Kelee Ringo, Isaiah Rodgers, Josh Jobe

The Eagles are suddenly flush with talented, young cornerbacks in the pipeline, so this is a position where I believe they will go heavy. I have Jobe beating out Eli Ricks for the seventh spot because of his special teams ability, and yes, I believe they will eventually part ways with James Bradberry.

Safety (4): Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Reed Blankenship, Sydney Brown, Justin Simmons

The Eagles currently have six safeties on their roster. Only CJGJ, Blankenship, and Brown are roster locks. Brown is still recovering from an ACL tear suffered in January, so he may not be ready for the start of the regular season, meaning that they really only have two playable safeties that they know will be good to go for Week 1.

And then there's rookie second-round pick Cooper DeJean, who has the versatility to play safety, but it's probably more likely that the Eagles will let him focus on corner initially, since that's the much more important position.

My conclusion: They'll probably add another safety. There are a lot of old safeties with recognizable names available on the open market, like Justin Simmons, Eddie Jackson, Quandre Diggs, Micah Hyde, Marcus Maye, Jayron Kearse, etc. Safeties are heavy on supply and seemingly light on demand, so the Eagles should be able to bring in one of those guys on a team-friendly deal.

No inside info here, but let's go with Simmons.

Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Braden Mann, Rick Lovato

All three of the Eagles' specialists scored new contracts this offseason. They'll all run unopposed in training camp.

MORE: Eagles win-loss predictions 

Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | @thePhillyVoice

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader