Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports released an article earlier this week discussing the importance of NFL roster depth in regards to winning a Super Bowl. Kirwan came up with a list of 13 questions that require a positive answer in order for a team to qualify as having solid roster depth. Let's take a look at how the Philadelphia Eagles measure up to Kirwan's test.
1) Does your team have a QB who can go at least 2-2 in a 4 game stretch?
Kirwan identifies the most important area of depth at backup quarterback. This is an obvious choice, and it's one BGN already discussed on Friday. Kirwan gets a little more specific with his criteria. He says a good backup QB can go at least 2-2 in a four game stretch.
So, do Mark Sanchez and/or Matt Barkley have the ability to do that? In the case of Sanchez, I think I'd say probably. Given the Eagles weapons on offense and a strong coaching staff led by Chip Kelly I would say Sanchez gives the Eagles a fighting chance. I could definitely see 1-3, I think I could see 2-2, but I couldn't see anything more than that.
2. Does your team have a real swing offensive tackle, a guy that can play left or right tackle and has experience?
Yes. The Eagles re-signed Allen Barbre this offseason for a reason. He's experienced and has looked capable in limited playing time. He's essentially the backup at every single OL position except for center.
3. Does your team have a solid inside offensive lineman that can play guard or center?
Probably. Allen Barbre qualifies here yet again as far as the guard position goes. The Eagles' center depth is less certain. Julian Vandervelde has some experience with the team but isn't necessarily a "true" center still. David Molk comes in as a more natural center but was out of the NFL entirely last season. It's worth noting the Eagles have had Evan Mathis take reps at center in emergency situations. Perhaps the Eagles would move Mathis to center and plug in Barbre at guard if there was a major injury to Jason Kelce.
4. Is there a quality second running back that can deliver a 100-yard rushing day if he had to start?
Not exactly. The recently-turned-31-year-old Darren Sproles is still a dangerous and effective player but it's hard to see him carrying a major workload at this point. Chris Polk is an intriguing backup and could thrive in a larger role, but he's far from a sure bet. If LeSean McCoy were to go down to injury I imagine the Eagles might use a running back by committee (RBBC) with Sproles, Polk, and perhaps another RB splitting time.
5. Is there a good second tight end on the roster?
Yes, and his name is Zach Ertz. And there's even a third one in James Casey. The Eagles arguably have one of the best TE groups in the league.
6. Can the third wide receiver step up and start in the two-WR packages if a starter went down?
Yes, I do believe that rookie receiver Jordan Matthews could start on the outside if needed.
7. Does your team have a designated pass-rush specialist who could play the early downs if need be?
Maybe. If we're talking about the 3-4 defensive end position, third year player Vinny Curry definitely qualifies here. He's proven to be a pass rushing demon off the bench. If we're talking about the 3-4 outside linebacker position, I'm not so sure. Maybe Brandon Graham? Or rookie first round pick Marcus Smith?
8. Is there a third defensive tackle that not only plays in a rotation but could play the whole game if need be?
Not exactly. Since the Eagles run a 3-4 I'm going to alter this question a little. I'm guessing the equivalent here would be asking about the Eagles depth at NT. Bennie Logan projects to be a good starter but the depth behind him is unclear. Beau Allen is a 7th round rookie and Damion Square is returning from a rookie season where he struggled.
9. Is there a quality nickel corner on the roster, since most teams are at least 50 percent sub defenses?
10. Is there a fourth corner for dime packages?
Yes. Either Bradley Fletcher or Nolan Carroll probably qualifies here. Either player seems to be a significant upgrade from last year's dime corner Roc Carmichael.
11. Is there a third safety for big nickel defenses?
Yes. The loser of the Nate Allen/Earl Wolff safety battle (where Allen currently has the advantage) projects to rotate in as a third safety.
12. Is there a return specialist that can either handle both punt and kick returns or contribute as a real position player?
Probably. It's not 100% clear who will return kicks and punts for the Eagles but for now I'm assuming it's Darren Sproles. And yes, Sproles also figures to contribute as a RB. Even if the KR/PR is two separate players there are no designated returners only on the roster.
13. Does your team have a special-teams linebacker that leads the specials and can play inside linebacker in a pinch?
Yes. Najee Goode comes to mind here. Then there's also veteran ILB Jason Phillips, who is returning from an ACL injury. The team also seems to be high on Jake Knott despite the fact he'll start off the season with a four game suspension.
Not exactly (2)
Overall, I'd say the Eagles shape up OK. Kirwan gave Philadelphia an honorable mention:
The honorable mention teams are the Redskins, Buccaneers, Dolphins and a tossup between the Eagles and 49ers. I like Kirk Cousins (Washington), Mike Glennon (Tampa Bay) Matt Moore (Miami) and Mark Sanchez (Philadelphia) and not so sure about Blaine Gabbert, but at least he has 28 starts and the rest of the 49ers' depth is pretty good. As for Washington, Tampa Bay, Miami and Philly, they don't satisfy all the categories but they did better than most teams hitting on at least nine of the 13.
What do you think of the Eagles' depth? Do they have enough to win a championship?