Last year, Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports came up with a fun activity to determine which NFL teams have enough roster depth to contend for a Super Bowl. Kirwan made a list of 13 questions that require a positive answer in order for a team to qualify as having solid depth. The Eagles shaped up OK in last year's assessment. Philadelphia's roster has obviously gone through a lot of change since then, however. So now let's take a look at this year's roster.
1) Does the team have a backup quarterback who can go at least 2-2 in a 4 game stretch?
Yes. Mark Sanchez went 5-4 in his nine appearances last season. Sanchez is back and he's had a strong offseason. Last year, Sanchez was new to the system. He also hadn't fully recovered from a shoulder injury suffered in 2013. He can definitely go 2-2, and maybe even 3-1. Sanchez isn't good enough to be an ideal long-term starter but he's arguably one of the best backups in the league.
2. Does the team have a real swing offensive tackle, a guy that can play left or right tackle and has experience?
Probably. This guy used to be Allen Barbre, but now he's projected to start at left guard. Philadelphia's offensive line depth took a hit when the team released Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans this offseason. The new swing tackle is likely Andrew Gardner, who played at tackle a little bit early on in 2014. Gardner is also in the mix for the starting right guard job. If Gardner (or John Moffitt) beats out Matt Tobin, who is arguably the favorite to win, then maybe Tobin would be the swing tackle since he used to play on the outside. None of these players are great, but they at least have experience and can be serviceable.
3. Does the team have a solid inside offensive lineman that can play guard or center?
Maybe. John Moffitt has experience playing at guard and center, though he's been out of the league since 2013. The Eagles have some other C/G types on their roster, including Julian Vandervelde, Josh Andrews, and rookie undrafted free agent Mike Coccia.
4. Is there a quality second running back that can deliver a 100-yard rushing day if he had to start?
Yes. Ryan Mathews is probably one of the best backup running backs in the league. The former first round pick showed plenty of talent with the Chargers; he just had a problem staying healthy. Mathews won't be exposed to so many touches as a backup now, but he's certainly capable of going over the century mark. He's done it 12 times in 60 career appearances. He's rushed for 90 yards or more a total of 16 times.
5. Is there a good second tight end on the roster?
Yes. Whether you consider Zach Ertz or Brent Celek the second tight end, both of them pass this test. Celek isn't the receiving threat he used to be but he's one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. Ertz is poised to break out as a receiving threat. As a bonus, Trey Burton showed some promise last summer and could be a decent third tight end.
6. Can the third wide receiver step up and start in the two-WR packages if a starter went down?
Yes. An in ideal world, Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor could be considered Philadelphia's top two wide receivers. Matthews is coming off a promising rookie season in the slot and could see more time on the outside. Agholor, meanwhile, was very impressive during the team's spring practices. It's not hard to see he has real talent. Perhaps Josh Huff, then, could be considered the third wide receiver. He's largely unproven after struggling at times as a rookie but he also flashed talent as well. Huff is currently competing for one of the outside spots. This ideal situation ignores Riley Cooper, however, who really struggled last season. If Cooper is considered to be the third receiver ... can he start? Sure, he's done it the past two years. Can he be a good starter? Well, that's a different story. Overall, I think the Eagles' wide receiver depth isn't spectacular but it has the potential to be solid if the young players step up.
7. Does the team have a designated pass-rush specialist who could play the early downs if need be?
Yes. Vinny Curry qualifies as the team's pass rush specialist and the team is looking to get him on the field more often. Curry's run defense is a concern, however.
8. Is there a third defensive tackle that not only plays in a rotation but could play the whole game if need be?
Allow me to rephrase the question for the Eagles' 3-4 defense: "Is there a backup nose tackle that not only plays in a rotation but could play the whole game if need be?"
Probably. Beau Allen played a little bit in rotation with starter Bennie Logan last year. He looked OK in limited playing time. It's hard to say for sure if he can be a full-time starter.
9. Is there a quality nickel corner on the roster, since most teams are at least 50 percent sub defenses?
Yes. Brandon Boykin. And then there's impressive rookie JaCorey Shepherd who is also learning the position behind him.
10. Is there a fourth corner for dime packages?
Yes. The Eagles used Nolan Carroll as the team's dime linebacker last season. Carroll is now the favorite to start at cornerback on the outside. If Carroll wins the starting job, perhaps the team will still use him in dime while rookie Eric Rowe fills in on the outside. If Rowe wins the job, Carroll would likely resume his role from last season.
11. Is there a third safety for big nickel defenses?
No. The Eagles barely have two safeties, let alone three. Malcolm Jenkins is the only proven starter on the back end. Walter Thurmond is converting from cornerback to safety. Behind them, the depth is very thin.
12. Is there a return specialist that can either handle both punt and kick returns or contribute as a real position player?
Yes. Darren Sproles was the best punt returner in the NFL last season and he also contributes as a rusher and pass catcher. Josh Huff showed potential on kick returns and figures to be in the mix at wide receiver. Nelson Agholor might also be in the mix at both return positions.
13. Does your team have a special-teams linebacker that leads the specials and can play inside linebacker in a pinch?
Yes. The Eagles have plenty of depth at inside linebacker now. Brad Jones and Najee Goode have proven to be good special teams players in the past and they also have experience on defense. The Eagles might not keep both players but at least one should stick around.
Overall, I'd say the Eagles shape up well. Last year I had at the Eagles at:
Not exactly (2)
So there's been some slight improvement. Depth at offensive line and safety are the two biggest points of concern. The Eagles are stacked in other areas, such as running back, inside linebacker, and defensive end.
What do you think of the Eagles' depth? Do they have enough to win a championship?