Philadelphia Eagles 2012 53 Man Roster Projection

Aug 20, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown (34) carries the ball against the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

This is the latest in a series we've be doing here on BGN written by John Breitenbach (@PFF_John), who is a big Eagles fan and best known for his work on Pro Football Focus. Check out the rest of the series here.

We're only about a week away from first cuts and, while most of the Eagles' active roster is set in stone, there remain a few questions. The front office have clearly done a tremendous job collecting talent up and down the roster. When quality veterans like Antonio Dixon and Darryl Tapp are on your roster bubble, you know you're doing something right.

Offense

QBs (3) - Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles

Vick and Foles are obviously locks leaving only one place up for grabs. Clearly Kafka isn't going to be surpassed by Trent Edwards so it remains to be seen whether the Eagles bring someone in. I happen to doubt it. For a start training camp is over, meaning the newcomer would only have a pair of preseason games to get adjusted to the system. With such little time, it's unlikely they'd be able to play right away. Looking around the league Tarvaris Jackson and Colt McCoy make sense but neither is ideal. After Foles' impressive performances against the Steelers and Patriots, concerns over the position have been eased and I expect the Eagles to stand pat.

RBs (4) - LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Stanley Havili

In the end Chris Polk just misses out with Brown getting the nod. In many ways the two players are opposite; Brown has bust potential but could also turn out to be a star while Polk is a workhorse type who was incredibly productive at Washington. In the end the Eagles chose to draft Brown over Polk and I don't think they've seen anything to change their minds. Brown's struggles in pass protection are concerning but he's not likely to see the field as a rookie anyway and is superior to Polk as a runner and receiver. I didn't have Havili making the team before the Patriots game. It wasn't really his running or blocking that made me change my mind but his impressive play on special teams. He's blocked pretty well and made a great play downfield on a punt against New England, he should have done enough.

TEs (2) - Brent Celek, Clay Harbor

Initially I had Brackett making the team over Havili but the latter got far more first team reps than the former, making me change my mind. I still think there's a chance they keep three tightends instead of two and a fullback. According the Football Outsiders, the Colts used multiple backs on just five percent of plays in 2010. In Indianapolis the offense hardly ever functioned with a lead blocker instead going heavy at tightend. In 2009 the Colts had six different tightends play and they've never employed fewer than four for the past four years. However the Eagles' are very high on both Celek and Harbor meaning they can probably afford to put Brackett on the practice squad and call him up if there's an injury.

OL (9) - King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde, Steve Vallos

I have the Eagles going a little light on the offensive line predominantly because they have a lot of flexibility. Dunlap can play either of the tackle spots or guard, as can Herremans. That means if an interior guy goes down they can move one of the tackles inside and start Bell in their place. I've gone with a couple of draftees making the team in Kelly and Vandervelde. Both are prototypical Mudd players who should have a leg-up having been picked by him. The last man will probably surprise a few people but the Eagles need some veteran insurance should something happen the Kelce. Reynolds might be the man but in the end Vallos' experience gave him the edge.

WRs (6) - Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt

The only debate here is whether they keep five or six wide receivers. The top three are obviously locks and Johnson has proved more the Chad Hall in a short amount of time. Add in the fact he's the primary punt returner and there's no chance he's no making the team. Cooper makes the team because he knows the offense well and is a good special teamer while McNutt will probably be inactive on game days but likely wouldn't make the practice squad.

Defense

DEs (6) - Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Daryl Tapp, Brandon Graham, Philip Hunt, Vinny Curry

All the defensive ends make it in this scenario. Despite the order, Tapp is obviously the last to make it although that's no slight on him. Jim Washburn likes to keep six defensive ends, having done so four times during his stint as the Titans' defensive line coach, and Tapp is quality player who gets consistent pressure and is good against the run. Of the guys on the bubble, Tapp is clearly the most talented, even if it is at a position of strength. I'm a little wary of the Eagles letting his contract cloud their judgement but there's no need to be frugal with the excess cap space.

DTs (4) - Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton

While I don't see Dixon making the team, I do think the Eagles will get something in return for him via trade. From the moment Washburn arrived I questioned his fit in a 1-gap scheme. He still hasn't really adapted and is now surplus to requirements considering the additions of Fletcher Cox and development of Cedric Thornton. Some are suggesting the team will keep five ends and five tackles because of Jenkins' ability to play outside, but the former Packer is probably a worse pass rusher than Tapp (Washburn's priority), so I don't see that as likely. It's why Washburn prefers to move defensive ends inside rather than the other way around. In the end this is just another case of keeping the best players. I should add that I expect Mike Patterson to go on the PUP list.

LBs (7) - Brian Rolle, Demeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan, Keenan Clayton

Most people have the Eagles going with six linebackers but I think they can find a way to keep seven. After talking him up, Keenan Clayton really disappointed against the Steelers and will need to pick it up if he's to make the team. Still, I think he has more potential than a lot of the guys also on the bubble and he's proven a capable role player at the very least. When you consider his contribution on special teams too, I think he sneaks on. Matthews probably makes it but he needs to get healthy and prove he's got better.

CBs (6) - Nnamdi Asomugha, Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes, Cliff Harris

The two potential surprises are Hughes and Harris. The former makes it predominantly on the back of his special teams play. With Colt Anderson still rehabbing, Bobby April may well look to Hughes to be his special teams ace. Harris making it over Hanson is a contentious one but the Oregon product has value in the return game that could give him the edge. So long as Boykin proves competent in the slot, I think he gets the nod there considering he's a lock to make the team. Hanson just seems like he provides very little in comparison especially after he had a down year in 2011.

S (3) - Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, OJ Atogwe

Three safeties would be a little risky but I think it's the best move. Cutting a second round pick in just his second season would be an unprecedented decision for Reid to make, but Jaiquawn Jarrett is making it easier on him. He looked worse in the first preseason game than he did in his rookie year, which is almost unfathomable. Philip Thomas is a nice practice squad candidate while Tom Nelson is not someone you want on your active roster. It's not like he's going to play and he's only an average special teamer.

STs (3) - Alex Henery, Matt McBriar, Jon Dorenbos

Henry was pretty poor as a rookie and was inconsistent in the first preseason game but bounced back with a couple of nice coffin punts against the Pats. McBriar is a stud if he's healthy so this becomes an increasingly tough call. It doesn't help that Henry has had all of the short field attempts making the situation even more complex. In the end I have the vet just sneaking it.

2012 preseason stats through 2 games

Player

Average Yards

Average net yards

Inside 20

Average hang time

McBriar

46.2

40.5

1

4.14

Henry

37.2

34.5

4

4.33

That's how I see the Eagles' roster shaking out then. It really comes down to a few individual battles. Havili has to outplay Brackett, Vallos has to outplay Reynolds, Boykin has to outplay Hanson ... One thing's for sure, this is a good problem to have.

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