I’m gonna take my first crack at figuring out what the final 53 man roster for the Eagles will look like by going down position by position and seeing who I think should make the team.
Obviously Michael Vick is the top guy here when he is healthy. Can he stay upright and able to play is the only issue right now.
Nick Foles has drawn insane amounts of praise and I have seen everything from Folesanity and that he is Foles-Real. Nick is definitely on the team and is potentially the backup Quarterback and future of the position.
Mike Kafka has been hurt and unable to take control of the backup Quarterback role, but he is still a better option than Trent Edwards and should make the team no problem. I have never liked Kafka’s arm strength and don’t think he will ever be a starter but he can be a quality backup and the only way he isn’t on the team this year is if the Eagles make a trade for a guy like Tarvaris Jackson.
Running Backs (4)
LeSean McCoy is one of the top players in the entire league. No questions here.
Dion Lewis has done more than enough this summer to earn the backup running back spot and he possess many of the same qualities as McCoy so the offense wouldn’t skip a beat with him in there. I just hope to never see him returning kicks again.
Bryce Brown was a major question mark as a 7th round pick with next to nothing for college playing time. That said, his #1 high school ranked ability has carried over and he looks like the real deal. I think he absolutely has to be on the team and should earn some carries based on the fact that he is a different type of back than McCoy and Lewis. He can be the change-up you throw in there early and the bigger back you put in late.
While I would love to see Chris Polk make the team and I do think he could be successful in the NFL in the right situation, the talent ahead of him is too great. Polk is a hard runner but lacks any special burst or speed, he is the kind of guy that starts a few games for an injured starter on a team like the Chiefs (see Jackie Battle last year). I would love for him to make it to the practice squad but I don’t see it happening. I think instead the 4th running back spot goes to Stanley Havili, a talented runner and good enough blocker to be the teams fullback. Emil Igwenagu looks like a practice squad guy.
Wide Receiver (6)
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are the unquestioned starters and DeSean looks night and day better than last year. Jason Avant is mister reliable in the slot. Riley Cooper is a guy I think has starter ability on the outside when he is healthy and was really hoping he could take a step up this year but he got hurt. Damaris Johnson has shown enough to make the team as the do it all guy and possibly as the starting punt returner. With Riley out I think we keep a 6th wide receiver and I think Marvin McNutt‘s potential, size and blocking ability earn him the role over Chad Hall and Mardy Gilyard. I think Hall and Gilyard will sign with and contribute to other teams and I wish them the best if they aren’t in Philly, I’ve liked Gilyard since his days at Cincy. Out of the rest of the guys, I like Jamel Hamler to be the top practice squad guy.
Tight End (2)
With the Cooper injury, depth across most positions and the inability for Brett Brackett or Chase Ford to stand out as the third tight end, I think this is a spot the Eagles go light on to start the season so that they can keep at other positions. Brent Celek is their All-Pro caliber starter and Clay Harbor has the talent and strong preseason behind him to play a lot on offense as well.
With Jason Peters out the offensive line is a bit harder to predict. Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins and Todd Herremans are unquestioned starters and King Dunlap should be the starter at Left Tackle. Demetress Bell is the big question mark as he has lost his hold on the starter role may end up getting cut in favor of a younger talent. For now I have him on the roster, paired with rookie Dennis Kelly as the backup tackles. Julian Vandervelde is the backup Guard and Steve Vallos is the backup Center. DJ Jones and Brandon Washington are strong practice squad canidates. Mike Gibson and Dallas Reynold can still push for a roster spot. I would love for Vandervelde, Kelly and Dunlap to impress enough that we can cut Bell and keep only 8 in order to keep more of the talent elsewhere.
That’s 24 players on offense…
Defensive End (5)
Trent Cole and Jason Babin are Pro-Bowlers and locks for the roster. Phillip Hunt has been lights out this preseason and has forced his way in to significant playing time. Brandon Graham is healthy and playing with a chip on his shoulder. Vinny Curry is a rookie that could start or play on many teams and is the future at the position. Darryl Tapp is the guy I am leaving out, partially because of the crazy talent around him, partially because I am mad at his for his 2 fouls last game, and mainly because age and contract wise, he is the most likely player on the roster to get traded. Both Monte Taylor and Xavier Brown could stick around on the practice squad.
Defensive Tackle (5)
Mike Patterson’s situation makes this position a little murkier but there is still plenty of talent and many of the ends have the ability to slide in to tackle in pass rushing situations. Cullen Jenkins is the top guy here and Derek Landri has earned the other starting spot. Fletcher Cox has been called by some the best defensive prospect in his draft class and isn’t going anywhere. Cedric Thornton really used his year on the practice squad to his advantage and has been dominating in the preseason so far. Antonio Dixon, although talented, has looked lost in the Jim Washburn system and could be traded or even cut but with Patterson still out I think he makes the team for now. Ollie Ogbu is the practice squad guy here.
For once Linebacker is one of the most straight forward positions. DeMeco Ryans is the veteran leader and Mychal Kendricks is the rookie with superstar potential. Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney will split the third starting spot and Casey Matthews and Akeem Jordon will round out the backups. Keenan Clayton would have to be outstanding the rest of the way out to sneak onto the roster, which is frustrating because he has a lot of talent. Adrian Moten, Ryan Rau and Monte Simmons all have enough ability to stick on the practice squad or even make the active roster in case of an injury.
Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are the unquestioned starters and both have All-Pro talent. Joselio Hanson has the slot spot locked down for now but Brandon Boykin will make the team as a return man and if he earns the nickleback role, Joselio will be on the outside looking in. I love both Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes as big physical outside cornerbacks and hope that they both make the roster. Cliff Harris has a lot of ability but will be one of the odd men out unless Hanson gets released or traded. Trevard Lindley has played well lately but we have been down that road before and Kevin Thomas, after coming over in a trade this summer, probably won’t stick either.
Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman are the starters. With Colt Anderson on the PUP list still there are two backup spots open. I think OJ Atogwe will take the top backup spot. With Tom Nelson getting hurt he will probably get stuck on IR to stick with the team and the last spot comes down to Jaiquawn Jarrett and Phillip Thomas. Jarrett was the high draft pick and will probably get the nod for at least one more season. Hopefully Thomas makes it to the practice squad.
That’s 26 defensive players, 50 total so far.
Special Teams (3)
Alex Henery is the teams kicker, Jon Dorenbos is the teams magician/long snapper. The only battle is between Chas Henry and former All-Pro Mat McBriar. I would love for the young talent Henry to earn the punting job but McBriar has a history of success when he is healthy so either way it is a win for the birds.
Based on my roster, my 8 man practice squad/guys potentially stuck on IR would include (italicized players are the 7 must keeps for me):
Jamal Hamler, Emil Igwenagu, Brett Brackett, DJ Jones, Brandon Washington, Monte Taylor, Xavier Brown, Ollie Ogbu, Ryan Rau, Adrian Moten, Cliff Harris and Phillip Thomas
That’s my 53 man roster as of now. Punter is the only true position battle on the team but there are several veterans in danger of losing spots. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of the younger guys get ‘hurt’ over the next 2 weeks and end up on the injured reserve list. For me the two places where someone could be cut is along the offensive line as I could see Bell end up not on the team with Dennis Kelly serving as the swing tackle. Also potential ‘surprise’ cuts could be Joselio Hanson, Brandon Hughes, Antonio Dixon, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Marvin McNutt or Stanley Havili in order to keep an extra tight end, linebacker, cornerback or a guy like Chris Polk.