So once again, Eagles fans are left with a little down time between OTAs and the start of training camp. What's a hardcore Philly fan to do? Make purely speculative roster predictions, of course! So, without further ado, here's my take on what the Eagles team could look like come week one. Feel free to chime in with your own depth chart predictions. Winner gets a pat on the back and an increased sense of self-satisfaction.
Stater: Kevin Kolb
Backups: Michael Vick, Mike Kafka
The release of undrafted rookie Joey Elliot pretty much solidified what was already a clear picture at quarterback. Kevin Kolb is the undisputed starter, with Michael Vick lending his years of experience at backup. Kafka is the only other QB on the roster (barring a late offseason pickup) and will spend a year developing in the number three position.
Starter: LeSean McCoy
Backups: Mike Bell, Charles Scott
As with many positions on the Eagles roster, the position of halfback has an undisputed starter in second-year man LeSean McCoy. Ex-Saint Mike Bell was clearly brought in to be the backup, so unless something big happens, that's where he'll stay. Of all the backs competing for the third position, bruising rookie Charles Scott seems to have the most upside. He should be able to take the pressure off of Leonard Weaver during goal line and short yardage situations.
Starter: Leonard Weaver
I think everyone can agree that Weaver, one of the best fullbacks the Eagles have had in years, will be starting come week one. His "competitor" Dwayne Wright, while a solid special teams performer, will find it difficult to make the final roster with so much young talent filling up the other positions. In this scenario, he'll be shown the door.
Starters: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin
Backups: Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Chad Hall
For this prediction I've decided to leave Hank Baskett, the current "Na Brown Award" finalist, as the odd man out. Rookie Riley Cooper will almost certainly make the roster behind the "guaranteed three" of Jackson, Maclin and Avant. As for the fifth WR, I just don't think the Eagles want to take the same risk they took with Danny Amendola last year. The WR/KR had a phenomenal offseason, but spent the first few weeks on the Eagles practice squad after being squeezed out of the final roster. A few injuries and trades later, and the Eagles were left with little depth at receiver and no one left to turn to on the practice squad after St. Louis had swooped in to swipe Amendola. Chad Hall has all the versatility and quckness of Amendola, plus he can play halfback when needed. He'll be a keeper.
Starter: Brent Celek
Backup: Cornelius Ingram, Clay Harbor
Last year, Andy Reid chose to carry only two tight ends on his roster, but after Cornelius Ingram's season-ending ACL tear, Reid didn't have enough depth to make a third tight end worth the spot. This year, with the addition of rookie Clay Harbor and the full (hopefully) recovery of Ingram, carrying three tight ends seems like an entirely acceptable course of action.
Starters: Jason Peters, Winston Justice
Backups: King Dunlap, Fenuki Tupou
Unless undrafted rookies Jeraill McCuller or Austin Howard have an outstanding training camp, it looks like King Dunlap will spend another year in the trenches. After spending his rookie year on injured reserve soaking up the playbook, Tupou is poised to make the final roster amid a fairly thin group of reserve offensive tackles.
Starters: Todd Herremans, Stacy Andrews
Backups: Mike McGlynn, Max Jean-Gilles
By all reports, Andrews is now fully recovered from his previous injuries and should resume his originally intended role as the starting right guard. With his versatility to play both center and guard, the young McGlynn is almost guaranteed a third year on the Eagles roster.
Starter: Jamaal Jackson*
Backups: Nick Cole
Assuming Jackson is progressing well enough in his recovery from a torn ACL, he will begin the season as the "starting" center, with Nick Cole filling in until Jackson is well enough to return. In this scenario, Mike McGlynn will be considered the backup to Cole while Jackson is inactive.
Starters: Trent Cole, Juqua Parker
Backups: Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Ricky Sapp
Choosing not to start first-round draft pick Brandon Graham was admittedly a tough decision. However, despite Parker's age, he still has a lot left to offer in terms of production (8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles last season). For the first few weeks of the season at least, Graham will likely fill in as a pass-rushing specialist until he proves he can out-produce Parker. As for the backups, the promising young Tapp and the hard-hitting Te'o-Nesheim are both practically locks to make the roster. Rookie Ricky Sapp should also make the cut due to his ability to play both linebacker and end.
Starters: Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley
Backups: Antonio Dixon, Trevor Laws
The young Antonio Dixon proved to be a promising specimen during his first year on an active roster. He should fit in nicely as the third defensive tackle, splitting time with Te'o-Nesheim. I want to believe that the coaches will give former second-round pick Trevor Laws one more shot, but it's hard to imagine him getting much playing time with such a deep and youthful offensive line. You never know, though, he could turn out to be the next Winston Justice.
Starters: Ernie Sims, Moise Fokou
Backups: Akeem Jordan, Keenan Clayton
Tackle machine Ernie Sims should earn the starting weakside linebacker spot after an early leapfrog over Akeem Jordan during OTAs. Second year man Moise Fokou has made huge strides since being selected in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. If he can keep his stupid penalties to a minimum, the starting strongside position will be his to lose.
Starter: Stewart Bradley
Backups: Joe Mays
Now fully recovered from his 2009 ACL tear (an all-too recurring theme here in Philadelphia), Bradley is poised to resume his Pro Bowl caliber performance in 2010. As this point in his career, the young Joe Mays provides more of an upside than the aging and injured Omar Gaither, and will likely make the roster over him. In this scenario, Akeem Jordan will supplant Gaither as the utilityman of the linebacker corps.
Starters: Asante Samuel, Joselio Hanson
Backups: Ellis Hobbs, Macho Harris, Trevard Lindley
Now that Sheldon Brown is gone, Hanson has the opportunity to finally realize his lifelong dream of becoming a starting cornerback in the NFL. Ellis Hobbs, recovering from season-ending neck surgery, will fill in as a nickel back while recently re-converted safety Macho Harris should earn a spot as the dimeback. Developmental rookie Trevard Lindley will almost certainly make the roster, but will have to settle for a reserve/special teams role until he can grow into Sean McDermott's system.
Starter: Nate Allen
Backups: Quintin Demps
Going into training camp as the starting free safety speaks volumes about the NFL-readiness of rookie Nate Allen. Look for him to be taking the field come week one. Demps should spend another year in a reserve role, where he still can provide some value at special teams.
Starter: Quintin Mikell
Backups: Kurt Coleman
Although we didn't get a chance to see Coleman during OTAs, scouts are already saying that he has the skill to see the field during his first NFL season. In a fairly thin crop of safeties, look for Coleman to rise to the top. He could be this year's Moise Fokou (hopefully without the mass of penalties).
Starter: David Akers
No question, here. The venerable Akers will be our undisputed starting kicker come week one.
Starter: Ken Parrish
As much as I hate to go with the naysayers on this one, I think Parrish has a decent chance of making the roster this year over Sav Rocca. Although he didn't last long during the 2009 preseason, Parrish has spent his downtime bulking up his leg and working on his kickoff stills. As I've said before, versatility plays a big factor in making the final roster, and Parrish may just have the edge this time.
Starter: Jon Dorenbos
See the entry for Akers above. Look for Dorenbos to continue his solid play and excellent special teams coverage in 2010.
OT Austin Howard, DT Jeff Owens, LB Jamar Chaney, C A.Q. Shipley, CB David Pender, RB Martell Mallett, S Ryan Hamilton, WR Blue Cooper