Eagles 53…for now

The Eagles roster is at 53 at the moment but there will be a few moves in the next couple days, I guarantee it.

 

 

Quarterbacks (3):  Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley

Same as I predicted, as did everyone else.

 

Running Backs (3):  Lesean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk

Tucker was a luxury that I wanted to keep.  I hope he makes it to the practice squad.

 

Tight Ends (4):  Brent Celek, James Casey, Zach Ertz, Emil Igwenagu

Four tight ends as expected but I was off by one.  Clay Harbor has the physical tools but things have never clicked for him so Emil makes the team based off of his ability to play full back, h-back and tight end.

 

Wide Receivers (5):  Desean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Jeff Maehl

Everyone was wrong on this one.  Rather than keeping camp darling Greg Salas or undrafted interest Shepard, the Eagles kept Chip Kelly veteran Jeff Maehl.  Maehl stays thanks to his experience in the system and ability to play anywhere, but don’t be surprised if he is gone by the end up of the week for someone with more raw potential.

 

Offensive Line (9):  Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbe, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Matt Tobin.

The 5 starters and Allen Barbe are on as expected.  Same for backup center Julian Vandervelde.  I thought maybe Dennis Kelly would go to the PUP list, but he is on the roster so perhaps he will be ready sooner rather than later.  I only had Danny Watkins on the team to fill Kelly’s spot but he was cut as many hoped and expected.  What a bad 2011 draft for the Eagles at the top.  I said Matt Tobin was a dark horse to sneak onto the roster, thanks to his ability to backup at both right tackle and right guard, and he was the last guy to make it here.  Michael Barimo simply was not as NFL ready as Tobin and hopefully makes the practice squad.

 

 

Defensive Line (7): Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Isaac Sopoaga, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers, Damion Square

Same 7 guys as I, and many others projected.  Damion Square is most in danger of being cut for a waiver wire player simply because he has no outstanding physical attributes.

 

Outside Linebackers (3):  Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin

As predicted Everette Brown and Adrian Robinson didn’t stick.  Travis Long is a practice squad hopeful.  The biggest surprise cut is Chris McCoy, who looked like he was the #4 outside linebacker.  He is another guy that hopefully can make it to the practice squad as the team searches the waivers for another outside backer.

 

Inside Linebackers (4): Mychal Kendricks, Demeco Ryans, Emmanuel Acho, Jake Knott, Casey Matthews

I saw a few bad plays from Matthews in the final preseason game and reacted by having him not make the roster, but he is a valuable special teams player and ahead of Jake Knott to actually see the field in a meaningful game right now.

 

Cornerbacks (6):  Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Jordon Poyer, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes

I predicted Willians, Fletcher, Boykin, Poyer and a player to be named later.  For now Marsh and Hughes stay, but neither or them are safe by any means, and that player to be named will be named by the end of the week.  Be sure that the team is looking for a number 4 corner back who can play right now, because Poyer is not quite there.  I wish Marsh would have panned out but Hughes has a better chance to stick thanks to special teams.

 

Safety (5):  Nate Allen, Patrick Chung, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson, Kurt Coleman

This one was pretty straight forward, these were the best 5 guys on the roster.

 

Special Teams (3):  Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos

 

 

 

Overall I did a pretty solid job getting into the head of the Eagles front office.  I had the last player at 4 different positions wrong, and kept an extra running back and linebacker over some depth at corner.  The 5th wide receiver and 4th tight end were Jeff Maehl and Iggy and not Russell Shepard and Clay Harbor.  The last two offensive linemen were Dennis Kelly and Matt Tobin and I had predicted Kelly on the PUP list and Michael Barimo’s long-term potential over Tobin’s ability to play right now.  At linebacker the Eagles kept Casey Matthews and not Chris McCoy and both Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes made it, for now.  I look forward to seeing who makes it to the practice squad and who might be available from another team that could help the Eagles this season.

A prediction for the Broncos 53 man roster

My friend Tim is a former (and possible future) sports blogger who follows the NFL almost as closely as I do.  While I am an Eagles fan, his family is originally from Colorado, so he has been a lifelong Denver Broncos fan.  If I had the ability to look at every single NFL roster and then the subsequent time to write about them I would, but in the meantime, I trust Tim’s evaluation of his own team.  With that said, here is his projection for the Broncos 53 man roster, as well as his plan for the practice squad:

 

QB:

Peyton Manning

Brock Osweiler

Zac Dysert

 

RB:

Ronnie Hillman

Montee Ball

Knowshon Moreno

Jeremiah Johnson

 

WR:

Demaryius Thomas

Eric Decker

Wes Welker

Andre Caldwell

Tavarres King

Trindon Holliday

 

TE:

Jacob Tamme

Joel Dressen

Julius Thomas

 

OT:

Ryan Clady

Orlando Franklin

Chris Clark

 

OG:

Louis Vasquez

Zane Beadles

Chris Kuper

John Moffitt

 

C:

Manny Ramirez

Ryan Lilja

 

DE:

Derek Wolfe

Robert Ayers

Quanterus Smith

Malik Jackson

Jeremy Beal

 

DT:

Kevin Vickerson

Terrance Knighton

Mitch Unrein

Sylvester Williams

 

OLB:

Von Miller (SUSP)-(Doesn’t count)

Shaun Phillips

Wesley Woodyard

Danny Trevathan

Lerentee McCray (Cut/PS after Miller back)

 

ILB:

Nate Irving

Steven Johnson

 

CB:

Champ Bailey

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Chris Harris

Tony Carter

Kayvon Webster

 

SS:

Mike Adams

Duke Ihenacho

Omar Bolden

 

FS:

Rahim Moore

David Bruton

 

ST:

Matt Prater

Britton Colquitt

Aaron Brewer

 

 

 

Practice Squad:

Gerell Robinson (Toughest Cut)

CJ Anderson

Vinston Painter

Ben Garland

John Youboty

Aaron Hester

Ross Rasner

Damien Holmes

Thoughts on the Eagles 53 man roster

NFL rosters have to be down to 53 players tomorrow.  This is Chip Kelly’s first year in the NFL so it is hard to say what he and Howie Roseman might want to keep and how much they are looking around the league.  Kelly has commented in the past that if he had a say, he would up the roster size to 80 player.  This post is the 53 men I would put on the roster right now.  My preference is to keep younger guys to develop with the knowledge that this probably isn’t a Super Bowl winning roster quite yet.  I do believe at least 2 or 3 moves will be made in the next week, so I will also note which of my 53 players I expect to be in jeopardy of making it only to be cut a few days later.

 

Quarterbacks (3):  Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley

Not really a whole lot to discuss here.

 

Running Backs (4):  Lesean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk, Matthew Tucker.

Chip will probably run the ball a lot more than Eagles fans have seen in a decade.  Add to that the chance for formations where Shady lines up in the slot and Brown is in the backfield to get the best matchups and the best talent on the field.  I also don’t trust that Matthew Tucker would be available to make it to the practice squad so I would rather have the depth on the roster and ready to go.

 

Tight Ends (4):  Brent Celek, James Casey, Zach Ertz, Clay Harbor

Four tight ends has been the expectation and Clay Harbor learned some wide receiver to provide depth there.

 

Wide Receivers (5):  Desean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Russell Shepard

This one is tough because Greg Salas has played so well.  With 4 tight ends and 4 running backs there is less room for wide outs and Greg Salas would have a tough time making it on the field with Jason Avant already entrenched as the slot receiver and Damaris as the probable backup there.  I give the nod to Shepard instead thanks to special teams ability and youth.

 

Offensive Line (9):  Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbe, Julian Vandervelde, Michael Barimo, Danny Watkins

The 5 starters are set and Allen Barbe is the backup at left tackle and left guard.  Julian Vandervelde is the backup at center and has guard experience, but could be a guy who is upgraded by the end of the week.  In this projection, I am anticipating Dennis Kelly being placed on the PUP list so that he is 100% down the stretch.  Danny Watkins makes the team for now but could be traded or cut for an upgrade elsewhere.  Matt Tobin is a dark horse to sneak onto the roster.

 

 

Defensive Line (7): Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Isaac Sopoaga, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers, Damion Square

Most of these guys are pretty locked into roster spots with Square as the only one I’m not sold on.  Square is a smart player but not a strong physical talent.  For now he will be on the roster and ideally he would spend the season inactive and in the weight room.  I would love to upgrade over Sopoaga, but hopefully Logan earns the starting role by mid-season.  Antonio Dixon is done.

 

Outside Linebackers (4):  Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Chris McCoy

I think these 4 guys are all locks.  Cole and Graham can both move to defensive end in passing situations as well, which may end up costing a guy like Square a roster spot if another outside linebacker with 3-4 experience can be found.  Everette Brown might have done enough to make it on another roster but I don’t expect to see him in Philly and Adrian Robinson simply didn’t have enough time to earn a spot.

 

Inside Linebackers (4): Mychal Kendricks, Demeco Ryans, Emmanuel Acho, Jake Knott

Kendricks and Ryans are the unquestioned starters and Acho and Knott look like strong backups.  Watching Casey Matthews last night took him off my list, but he could make the team based on camp and based on special teams needs.

 

Cornerbacks (5):  Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Jordon Poyer, (Player to be named later)

I am keeping Poyer because he has long term potential and appears to be able to contribute right away on special teams.  There will absolutely be a 5th corner added sometime soon but that player is not on the roster yet.  I just think Brandon Hughes and Curtis Marsh getting hurt took away their chances to impress the new coaching staff.  Eddie Whitley would have been my 5th had he not gotten hurt.  Poor Trevard Lindley gets cut every year at this time.

 

Safety (5):  Nate Allen, Patrick Chung, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson, Kurt Coleman

The top 3 guys are pretty much set.  Colt Anderson is too valuable on special teams and is effective enough as a run stopping safety.  Kurt Coleman makes the team because of his willingness to do anything but is another candidate to be cut later this week for someone from the waiver wire.

 

Special Teams (3):  Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos

Pretty straight forward here.

 

 

 

Now I will make a guess at the practice squad.  One thing to keep in mind is that several players do not have eligibility due to NFL rules, and others may get signed to other teams.

 

Dennis Dixon – although I would like GJ Kinne as well, Dixon is the better option for now

Emil Igwenagu – he’s been here before and could get the call quickly if any of the tight ends go down

Derek Carrier – some people think he was cut early in an attempt to limit film so he can be kept on the P.S.  Brett Brackett was signed away by Jacksonville last year and teams are always looking for athletic tight ends.

Joe Kruger – a year on the practice squad could do wonders for him and he could then push for a spot in the rotation next year

Travis Long – another guy who simply needs a year to develop and could absolutely make the team next year

Matt Tobin – if he doesn’t end up on the 53 man roster

Wide Receiver – Ifeanyi Momah, Jeff Maehl and Greg Salas all have eligibility but Salas will be on someone’s roster.  I love the potential of Momah, especially his size, but his lack of experience has been apparent through camp and pre-season, where as Maehl has a veteran presence.  Odds are the spot is an outsider.

Cornerback – There is a chance the coaches don’t think Poyer is ready and he ends up here, but that means they found other options for the active roster.  If not, this will be a defensive back cut from another roster.

Sophomore Slump or Surge? Part 2

In the last post I looked at some of the members of last year’s rookie class for whom I was projecting a worse statistical second season, or a sophomore slump.  Now I want to highlight a few players that I expect to make a big jump from year 1 to year 2.  Obviously any player who did little or nothing last season and then contributes this season will technically have a surge, so I’m just picking out a few that I expect the have the biggest jump in impact on their team.

 

SURGERS:

 

Mychal Kendricks – The second year linebacker flashed at times for the Eagles last year but, like the rest of the team, was incredibly inconsistent.  The move to inside linebacker in a 3-4 / 4-3 under scheme, coupled with a year of experience seems to have slowed down the game for Kendricks, though, and his status as one of the most athletic linebackers in the NFL will start to show-up this season.  A talented blitzer from the inside (30 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks his last 2 years at Cal), Kendricks also has the speed (4.47 40 time) to matchup with tight ends and receivers in the slot.  Watch for Kendricks to be an impact linebacker this season.

Jayron Hosley – A ball-hawk with punt-return experience is always dangerous in the secondary, just ask Patrick Peterson.  I’m not saying Hosley will be as good as Peterson and he was slow to get involved last season, only getting credited with 12 games (6 starts), 1 interception and 5 pass deflections last season (according to Pro Football Reference).  With Corey Webster another year older, I expect Hosley and 3rd year player Prince Amukamara to form one of the better young cornerback tandems in the league.

Courtney Upshaw – Upshaw spent last season banged up and behind a one of the strongest linebacker cores in the NFL, as the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl.  Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe are all gone and Elvis Dumervil is the only other pass rusher the team added in the offseason.  Upshaw knows how to get to the quarterback from the 3-4 outside linebacker position (32.5 sacks in his last 2 years at Alabama) and will be used in rotation with Terrell Suggs and Dumervil.  He might not be a Pro-Bowler just yet, but I expect him to thrive in the always strong Baltimore defense.

Nick Toon – Toon came into the league as a ready-made wide receiver, but didn’t make it on the field as a rookie.  A year later he looks to be a part of a re-built receiving core for the Saints.  Veterans Lance Moore and Marques Colston look to be the top pass catchers with tight end Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles always in the mix, but Nick Toon and rookie Kenny Stills will be factors as well.  Drew Brees has averaged all but 4800 passing yards over his 7 years in New Orleans so there are plenty of balls to go around.  Add to that, Colston is always playing hurt and misses time here and there, and Moore, despite coming off of his first 1000 yard season, is 30 years old this weekend and plays mostly in the slot.  Toon should see a lot of time on the field this year with one of the leagues best throwing it to him.

Ryan Broyles – Broyles knows how to get open and how to catch the ball.  He is the NCAA FBS all time career reception leader with 349 catches, despite missing the end of his senior year with a torn ACL.  His 131 catches as a junior is also 8th best all time.  There were glimpses that this ability was going to carry over into the NFL, but then he tore his other ACL.  Broyles may never be healthy enough to contribute regularly in the NFL, but he also may have just been unlucky.  If Broyles has healthy knees this season, he could catch an awful lot of passes thanks the coverage that Calvin Johnson demands.

Mohamed Sanu – Sanu is the anti-Broyles in terms of size and shiftiness, but like Broyles, he runs precise routes and has great hands.  Sanu is big, strong and slow (only a 4.67 40 at the combine), but will catch anything you throw his way over the middle.  He is also a great target in the redzone and grabbed 4 touchdowns in 3 games last season (from 10, 14, 2 and 5 yards out).  The Bengals look the have one of the best teams in the NFL this season and while Sanu will never be a big-play guy, he could absolutely emerge as the possession receiver that allows AJ Green to continue to get open on the intermediate and deep routes.

Rueben Randle – This one is easy, Randle is a 6’4″ 2nd round talent with 4.5 speed and Hakeem Nicks cannot and will not stay healthy.  Eli Manning throws enough that Randle will be valuable, even as a 3rd wide receiver.  His 298 yards last season will be surpassed quickly.

Ronnie Hillman – Hillman has the tools to become a solid running back in the NFL with his 4.45 speed and pass catching ability.  In only 2 years at San Diego State Hillman ran for 3243 yards and 36 touchdowns before coming to the NFL in the 3rd round and looking lost at times last year.  With Montee Ball now in Denver and Knowshon Moreno healthy (at the moment), it is now or never for Hillman despite it being only his second year.  It is entirely possible he is not meant for the NFL, or meant to be a role player, and he is my least confident pick on this list, but I can also see Hillman rising to the challenge and collecting 1500 all purpose yards this season.

 
Some other names I considered but may not see the kind of jump in production as the guys I listed:

 

Daryl Richardson – could be the Rams feature running back and has 3 down skills

Jonathan Massaquoi – talented pass rusher on a top team, pass defense should be improved and only Kroy Biermann and Osi Umenyiora ahead of him

Michael Egnew – solid pass catching tight end, may be become the starter in Miami thanks to the Dustin Keller injury

Demario Davis – very athletic inside linebacker for the Jets, Bart Scott is gone and David Harris is starting to lose a step; could become a playmaker in the middle

Alshon Jeffery – a virtual clone of Brandon Marshall, the wide-out he should start opposite of; could put up really good numbers if Jay Cutler can stay upright

Sophomore Slump or Surge? Part 1

I wanted to take a quick look at last year’s rookie class to see who may be in line for a sophomore slump, or inversely, ready for a strong second season.  These slumps and surges could be a result of circumstance, injury or simply a matter of a player needing a year to adapt to the NFL game after showing some promise as a rookie.  I will start with a handful of players I strongly believe will not be able to match last year’s production.

SLUMPERS:

Robert Griffin III – RG3 had a magical first season, taking the NFL by storm.  I have him on this list because I worry about the knee and his health for the season.  In addition, teams should be better able to adjust to the Redskins offense this season, especially if RG3 cannot run as much or as well.  I like Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis and there are some other solid players, but if teams can stack the box against Alfred Morris and the run game, RG3 might not have places to throw the ball.

Alfred Morris – While RG3 was expected to make an impact in the NFL last year, Alfred Morris literally came from nowhere (Florida Atlantic more specifically) to run for over 1600 yards and 13 scores.  As stated above, teams may be better able to defend the Skins top ranked rushing attack this season, particularly if RG3 is not 100%.  Add to this that Morris had only 11 receptions last season and a mere 30 in his 4 year college career, and he may have to leave the field in passing situations.  I really see no way he replicates his numbers from last season.

Blair Walsh – It might seem weird to pick on a kicker but Walsh had an outstanding season last year and I don’t think he can copy that same success this year.  Walsh went 35 for 38 on field goal attempts, including 10 for 10 from beyond 50.  Both his number of field goal attempts and his percentage of kicks converted are a bit on the high side and should see a regression this season.  In addition, the Vikings added Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson to the offense in an attempt to score more touchdowns not more field goals.  Another thing that factors into my inclusion of Walsh on this list is his erratic tendencies while in college.  At Georgia his field goal completion by season was 65%, 90%, 87% and then only 60% as a senior.

Justin Blackmon – Blackmon is suspended 4 games.  While he has tremendous talent and an improved situation around him, missing 1/4 of the season is no way to increase your standing.  865 yards and 5 touchdowns were the numbers from last year.  Blackmon absolutely could do it, he has the talent, but 72 receiving yards per game for him, from a team that only averaged 217 passing yards per game last season will be very hard.

Doug Martin – I hope I am wrong on this one for fantasy football purposes, but the Muscle Hamster touched the ball nearly 370 times for almost 2000 total yards as a rookie, after never seeing as many as 300 touches in a college season.  Some could say he has plenty of tread left on the tires but others could say that is a heavy jump in usage, one that he may not be able to handle for a second full season.  766 of Martin’s yards and 6 of his 12 touchdowns came in a 4 game mid-season surge against Vikings, Raiders, Chargers and Panthers and he followed that with a 4 game stretch in which he only totaled 250 rushing yards (128 of which came against the hapless Eagles).  While I think Martin is a very talented player, between the wear and tear of the NFL, the lack of another talented back to help ease the load, and the inconsistent nature of Josh Freeman and the rest of the Buccaneers offense, I just do not know that he can pile up another 2000 yards of offense.

Eagles Cuts Already In

So the Eagles got their cuts in early and was similar to what I predicted but not quite.

Apparently they will really be looking at the backup offensive line in the last pre-season game and Nic Purcell was the only linemen cut.

I guessed David Sims would be the safety to go but it was, in fact, Kenny Phillips’ knee was the one that didn’t make it.

Daryell Walker is gone, as expected.

Same goes for backup long snapper James Winchester, backup punter Brad Wing and reserve tight end Will Shaw.

I kinda thought Isaac Remington might get one more game after the team moved him to OL but he was the first of the former Ducks to get the axe.

Eddie McClam, a recently signed defensive lineman got cut already.

Eddie Whitley, a corner/safety who looked like he was going to make the team got waived/injury.  The hope is that no one claims him and he can stick around on the team on injured reserve this year.

Nick Miller was the only wide receiver cut, despite having some NFL experience at both receiver and as a return man.  The team can spend the last game looking at the young guys to see if any of them can contribute this year or if they should be looking elsewhere.

The two most surprising early cuts would have to be Jamar Chaney and Derek Carrier.  The writing was on the wall for Chaney as he was clearly passed by Jake Knott and Emmanuel Acho on the depth chart at inside linebacker.  Carrier, meanwhile, seemed like he still had a shot at making the team despite the depth at tight end.  He may be headed back to the practice squad again this year, provided another team doesn’t sign him away.

I can’t say I am surprised by any of the cuts, but I am a bit impressed that there are still 5 quarterbacks on the roster.  I suspect that means both Vick and Foles are done for the preseason as Matt Barkley will get the start.  David Sims and Kurt Coleman will get one more chance to make the roster.  The same is true for the backup outside linebackers, offensive linemen and wide-receivers.

First round of Cuts

The first round of cuts for NFL is upon us as teams have to go from the 90 man offseason rosters down to 75 by Tuesday, and then to the regular season max of 53 by August 31st.  During this time, team scouts will spend a lot of time looking at the players being released by other teams in effort to find players at a position of need for their team or guys who could be an upgrade over their current players.  By my count, the Eagles roster sits at 88 players right now, meaning in the next day they will have to cut 13 players.  These are the guys I expect to be on the first round of the chopping block:

 

Matt Tennant – Not really in contention to be the backup center anymore with Dallas Reynolds and Julian Vandervelde ahead of him.

Matt Kopa, Matt Tobin, Nic Purcell – all depth along the offensive line that has been passed over

Daryell Walker – Depth along the defensive line

Everette Brown – The team signed him early in the offseason and then switched to 3-4 where he failed to show up as a linebacker

David Sims – depth at safety and a special teamer, but he is behind Allen, Chung and Wolff.  This could also be Kurt Coleman or Kenny Phillips if his knee isn’t truly back.

James Winchester – just an extra long snapper, expendable if Dorenbos is healthy

Brad Wing – very talented punter that will probably be on a roster somewhere this year, simply lost out to Donnie Jones

G.J. Kinne – 5th string quarterback.  I think everyone hopes he makes the practice squad.

Will Shaw – depth guy at the already deep TE spot

Will Murphy – depth guy at wideout who knew the offense already but lacks the talent to stick

Ifeanyi Momah – practice squad candidate who has a lot of tools that just haven’t translated yet

 

 

So that’s my guess at the first 13 cuts for the Eagles as they try to evaluate the bottom half of their roster and guys push for playing time and roster spots.  I’m sure we will see one or two surprises.