The Philadelphia Eagles' roster has gone through a lot of change since Chip Kelly received full control over the team's player personnel department. After failing to make the playoffs despite going 10-6 in 2014, Kelly felt it necessary to make significant changes to his team. It remains to be seen if the Eagles are better or worse due to those changes. The roster definitely looks different, but it's far from a sure thing. There are still concerns.
The Eagles spent time addressing some of their weaknesses during free agency and the 2015 NFL Draft. Like any team in the NFL, however, their roster is far from perfect. There will always be a weak point somewhere. Today we aim to identify which position on the Eagles roster appears to be the weakest. Here are some candidates.
Hard to start any place else but here. It's the most important position in the game. Sam Bradford projects to be the team's starter this season after the Eagles traded away Nick Foles and a 2016 second round pick for him, but there are obvious concerns about his health. The 27-year-old veteran was limited in spring practices and it remains to be seen if he'll be fully cleared to return to practice by the starting of training camp, though he expects to be. Can Bradford stay healthy? Can Philadelphia be a true championship contender even if Bradford is healthy? Can Mark Sanchez step up if/when Bradford goes down? There are big questions to answer at this position.
Heading into spring practices, the Eagles didn't even have a clear starter next to Malcolm Jenkins. Now it appears that starter will be Walter Thurmond, who has never played safety during a game in his entire football career. Thurmond actually looked good during the spring but games will be a real test for him. Thurmond's sustainability will also be tested. He's had numerous injury issues during his career. If Thurmond and/or Malcolm Jenkins goes down, there's just not any proven depth at the safety position.
3) Offensive Line
The Eagles were ravaged by injuries up front last year. It's hard to imagine that they'll have such bad luck again moving forward, but there are concerns about this aging group. Jason Peters is 33. The 31-year-old Allen Barbre is favored to start at left guard despite being a journeyman for most of his career. For some reason the team has a lot of faith in him. The starting right guard job is totally up for grabs with names like Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner, Kevin Graf, Dennis Kelly, and the recently signed John Moffitt in the mix. The Eagles released both Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis this offseason and then failed to majorly address offensive line in either free agency or the NFL Draft. Depth is a big concern here as well.
The Eagles will have two new starters on the outside this year after releasing Cary Williams and letting Bradley Fletcher walk in free agency. Byron Maxwell will be starting at one position. It'll be interesting to see how he performs without the benefit of Earl Thomas playing behind him. Opposite of Maxwell will be Nolan Carroll, or at least that's how it appears right now. Rookie second round pick Eric Rowe could compete for a starting spot but the veteran Carroll currently has the edge. Carroll has starting experience in the league, but it's fair to wonder how great of an option he will be.
5) Wide Receiver
It's up to Philadelphia's remaining wide receivers to fill the void left by Jeremy Maclin's 2014 production. Jordan Matthews is poised for another good season after standing out as a rookie in the slot. Josh Huff shows brief flashes of talent in 2014 but he'll need to cut down on the drops and fumbles. Nelson Agholor is a talented rookie to get excited about. Riley Cooper is still around after struggling mightily last season. The Eagles guaranteed $1 million to Miles Austin for some reason. The Eagles have some talent here, but it's not exactly a proven group.
6) Outside Linebacker
We know Connor Barwin is a great starter on one side. Now it's up to Brandon Graham to step up and prove he can fill Trent Cole's shoes. Graham has excelled in limited playing time. Can he thrive in a bigger role? And then there's Marcus Smith. Can the 2014 first round pick be counted on to take Graham's old role of playing about 30% of the team's defensive snaps per game? Can Smith be ready to start if one of the two full-time starters goes down?
7) Running Back
The Eagles arguably have the best backfield in the NFL. The concern here is not about talent, but health. DeMarco Murray has been prone to injury and he's coming off a huge 2014 workload. Ryan Mathews has been no stranger to the injury bug as well. The 32-year-old Darren Sproles suffered an injury that caused him to miss a little time last season. Using these backs in rotation could lesser the chance of injury. The run game is critical to the success of Kelly's offense. It's imperative these players stay healthy.
Which positions concern you the most?