clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Philadelphia Eagles 2015 opening day roster is better than the 2014 team

New, comments

What does the current Philadelphia Eagles opening day roster look like compared to the one from last year? Has the team improved, stayed the same, or gotten worse? Read on for a position-by-position breakdown.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

2015: Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Stephen Morris

2014: Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley

Judgement: Better.

Foles led the NFL in turnovers last season before suffering a season-ending injury. He just didn't look too good at all. Chip Kelly knew he needed to upgrade on Foles, so he did. Many were skeptical about the Bradford acquisition at the time, and there still are some concerns, but there's no question he has serious potential in this Eagles offense. Bradford is simply more talented than Foles. He boasts superior arm strength, a quicker release, laser-like accuracy, and overall better decision making. Meanwhile, Sanchez is what he is: a solid backup but not much more. The 23-year-old Morris might have some potential to develop into a backup one day.

Running Back

2015: DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner

2014: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk

Judgement: Better.

The Eagles' backfield is loaded. McCoy is gone, but he struggled in 2014 more than some realized. Murray and Mathews are big, physical rushers who figure to be big additions to Philadelphia's revamped run game. Instead of relying on just one back, the Eagles can now split the carries between multiple players. Sproles' role as a rusher might decrease but the team seems to be intent on getting him more involved in the passing game. He's a weapon in the slot so that's good news for the offense. Barner provides depth at both running back and punt returner.

Wide Receiver

2015: Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Riley Cooper, Miles Austin, Seyi Ajirotutu

2014: Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Brad Smith, Josh Huff, Jeff Maehl

Judgement: Same.

This is a bit of a tough call. Losing Maclin's production is a big factor here. However, the Eagles might have enough weapons to replace him. Matthews looks primed to be very good in his second year. First round pick Agholor has flashed potential. Huff might be able to take a step forward. Cooper is still Cooper, which isn't very good, but Austin might be a solid addition to help take his snaps away. Ajirotutu is arguably an upgrade on Smith. Overall, this unit has the potential to be good, but it's hard to say for sure now until the young pass catchers prove themselves.

Tight End

2015: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton

2014: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Trey Burton

Judgement: Same.

Losing Casey's production as a blocker and a good special teams guy was an underrated loss for Philadelphia this offseason. However, the loss of Casey is offset by the development of Ertz and Burton. Overall, this position should be similar to last year. The team will hope Ertz can be healthy after starting off the season with a groin injury.

Offensive Line

2015: Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Andrew Gardner, Lane Johnson, Matt Tobin, David Molk, Dennis Kelly, Josh Andrews

2014: Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Allen Barbre, [Lane Johnson], Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly, David Molk

Judgement: Worse.

The biggest loss here was obviously releasing Evan Mathis. Mathis was a good player, and Barbre isn't exactly a totally proven commodity. For what it's worth, the team really likes Barbre and he grades out favorably on Pro Football Focus so those might be good signs. At right guard, Gardner isn't the best player but one can wonder if he's really that much of a downgrade from a declining Herremans. Guard is arguably the least important position on offense and the Eagles still have studs at both tackle spots and center, so there's reason to believe the starters can be good. The depth is a little questionable, however, because last year's backups are now starting. The good news about the backups is they have some playing experience from having been forced into action last season. Maybe that could help them if they have to play again.

Defensive Line

2015: Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart

2014: Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart

Judgement: Better.

This unit is exactly the same on paper, but the depth is better. Young players like Allen and Hart looked improved this summer. Logan really looks like he could be a force at nose tackle in the middle in his third season. The Eagles are very strong up front on defense.

Linebacker

2015: Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Marcus Smith II, Bryan Braman, Brad Jones, Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Jordan Hicks

2014: Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Bryan Braman, Marcus Smith II, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Casey Matthews

Judgement: Better.

At outside linebacker, Graham is an upgrade over Cole to me. Graham has shown serious potential as a pass rusher off the bench. Now he has to prove he can do it in extended playing time, which I'm optimistic he can do. The depth at outside linebacker is a little iffy, but the team has some options with Curry also now playing some OLB. Braman and Jones are around as well. At inside linebacker, adding Kiko Alonso was obviously a huge move. The pairing of him and Kendricks should be special. The depth at inside linebacker is also much better with Ryans, Hicks, and Jones being better than players like Goode and Matthews.

Cornerbacks

2015: Byron Maxwell, Nolan Carroll, Eric Rowe, E.J. Biggers, Denzel Rice

2014: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll II, Jaylen Watkins

Judgement: Same.

Maxwell is definitely way better than any cornerback the Eagles had last season. I like what I've seen out of Carroll, who is now in his second year in the system. The depth is concerning, however. The team doesn't have a clear starter at nickel cornerback. Or maybe they do, and it's Carroll, but then it's unclear who will replace him on the outside. Rowe has struggled as a rookie. Biggers isn't exactly known for being a great player. Undrafted rookie free agent Rice probably isn't ready to contribute much on defense. The starters are better, but the depth could be an issue.

Safety

2015: Malcolm Jenkins, Walter Thurmond, Chris Maragos, Jerome Couplin

2014: Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos

Judgement: Better.

I've seen enough out of Thurmond to know he can be better than Allen. Thurmond makes plays on the play in a way that Allen didn't. The Eagles' starting safeties have the potential to be pretty solid overall. Maragos is still around as a special teams contributor. Couplin is an interesting player who definitely offers more than the oft-injured Wolff.

Specialists

2015: Cody Parkey, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos

2014: Cody Parkey, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos

Judgement: Same.

Parkey looked a little shaky at times this summer but there are no major indications this team is better or worse off. It's mostly the same.

OVERALL

I have the Eagles better in five of these areas, three as the same, and one worse. The Eagles made a lot of changes during Chip Kelly's first offseason in charge of the team's player personnel department. A lot of his moves were controversial, but I would argue the team is ultimately overall better off because of his decisions.