Philadelphia Eagles offseason team activities (OTAs) are finally underway. That's the good news. The bad news is that there's no media access to the Eagles OTAs... yet. There will be some availability later this week on Thursday, May 29th.
Everything you need to know about Eagles OTAs, including a full schedule, can be found here. According to Dave Spadaro, the Eagles are expecting a 100% attendance rate at OTAs which is good to see because they're voluntary. The exception here is Eagles rookie safety Ed Reynolds who, due to NCAA rule, won't be able to join the Eagles until he finishes his classes at Stanford later in the summer.
So while we wait to hear more from the Eagles, let's take a look at the team's projected starting lineup heading into OTAs. Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com already highlighted some of the top position battles to watch. Here, I'm more so concerned with the starters only. These are the players who will be taking the bulk of the first team reps during OTA practices. We'll start with the offense.
Quarterback - Nick Foles
Running Back - LeSean McCoy*
Wide Receiver 1 - Jeremy Maclin
Wide Receiver 2 - Riley Cooper
Wide Receiver 3 - Jordan Matthews
Tight End - Brent Celek*
Left Tackle - Jason Peters
Left Guard - Evan Mathis
Center - Jason Kelce
Right Guard - Todd Herremans
Right Tackle - Lane Johnson
All of these starting jobs are pretty much locked in. I don't anticipate any battles for starting jobs.
I put an asterisk next to LeSean McCoy because Darren Sproles will be the other Eagles running back to see the field for a significant amount of snaps. Sproles won't necessarily steal away from McCoy's snaps, and nor shoulder he, because he's expected to be more of a pass catcher.
Celek's name also received an asterisk because he will likely play in rotation (or in conjunction) with second year tight end Zach Ertz. Remember that the Eagles like to go heavier on tight ends, especially because they don't keep a true fullback on the roster.
Jordan Matthews is penciled in at the team's slot receiver, but I have to imagine Kelly will won't be shy to line up different receivers on both the inside and outside.
Defensive End - Fletcher Cox
Nose Tackle - Bennie Logan
Defensive End - Cedric Thornton
Outside Linebacker - Connor Barwin
Inside Linebacker - Mychal Kendricks
Inside Linebacker - DeMeco Ryans
Outside Linebacker - Trent Cole*
Cornerback - Cary Williams*
Cornerback - Bradley Fletcher*
Nickel Cornerback - Brandon Boykin
Safety - Nate Allen*
Safety - Malcom Jenkins
As you can see, the defense isn't as settled as the offense. There are a few starting jobs up for grabs.
The big one to watch is veteran Trent Cole versus rookie first round pick Marcus Smith. Some argue Cole isn't an ideal fit for the 3-4, and that may be true, but that doesn't mean Smith will just be handed the job. Cole finished his 2013 campaign strong and won't lose his starting job unless he is thoroughly outplayed for it by Smith. Being that Smith is a rookie, I don't see him usurping Cole right away. Smith will still have a significant role coming off the bench and could steal snaps from Cole as the season progresses.
The cornerback jobs are definitely up for grabs. Neither Williams (a potential cap casualty after 2014) and Fletcher (UFA after 2014) seem long for the roster. They could easily both return as the starters but the likes of Nolan Carroll and potentially Jaylen Watkins could beat them out for a starting job. Williams is very up and down but I get the sense he's near a sure-thing as a starter. The other cornerback job, however, probably comes down to a battle between Fletcher and free agent signing Carroll. Brandon Boykin remains the team's trusty slot cornerback.
The last big competition on the defense is the second safety spot. The Eagles paid Malcolm Jenkins starter's money in free agency to be a starter. The other spot will be battled out between Earl Wolff and Nate Allen. Allen currently has the edge until Wolff does something to separate himself as the new deserving starter.
Kicker: Alex Henery*
Punter: Donnie Jones
Long Snapper: Jon Dorenbos
Carey Spear (aka Murderleg) will have an up-hill battle to unseat Alex Henery.
That's pretty much it. Just how good does this starting lineup look on paper?