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Eagles 53-man roster projection: Post-preseason prediction

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With the preseason finally in the books, who made their case to stay on the roster?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 preseason is in the books, which means Chip Kelly and the Eagles have some tough choices to make. All NFL rosters must be cut down from 75 to 53 players by Saturday, meaning the end of the road has arrived for a good chunk of the current roster.

Recently Brandon released his prediction for the Eagles' 53-man roster. But because we love bring you that fresh #content, I humbly present my first and only prediction of what the team will look like when they take on the Falcons in Week 1:

OFFENSE

Quarterback (3): Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow [3]

Just looking at the names, this is a pretty crazy group of quarterbacks. Each was a first round pick, and each had their own unique struggles that led to them being on the Eagles' roster. Bradford flashed Comeback Player of the Year potential in Week 3 of the preseason, and has fans so excited they're comparing him to Rocky.

Sanchez, meanwhile, is a solid backup who can be better than the dreaded "game manager" moniker. As we saw last year on Thanksgiving, Sanchez can still show some of that "Sanchize" magic that so enraptured the Jets. As for Tebow, he played himself onto the roster with a nice performance Thursday night.

Running back (4): DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner [7]

Top to bottom, the Eagles might just have the most impressive group of running backs in the entire league. Murray is the league's reigning rushing champ, Mathews has a nice blend of size and speed, while Sproles and Barner have value both out of the backfield and as return men.

The only mild surprise here is Barner, who's scored two return touchdowns in the preseason. The trick here is that Barner, like Sproles, is a punt returner. And as good as Barner's been, you don't take Sproles out of that spot for anyone. Barner is likely too good to be stashed on the practice squad for another year, which may result in him making the team, but not ever really seeing the field. He's also a potential trade candidate.

Wide receiver (7): Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Riley Cooper, Nelson Agholor, Miles Austin, Seyi Ajirotutu, Jeff Maehl [14]

The only players who might not be considered locks are Austin and Maehl. But the Eagles would lose $1 million in dead cap by releasing the veteran Austin, and Maehl has shown enough in the final two preseason games to warrant a spot on the roster. On the whole, this is a young core of receivers who could surprise some teams around the league.

Tight end (3): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton [17]

All three of last year's tight ends should return. Chip Kelly favorite Brent Celek will likely continue to see more of the snaps than the other two, with Ertz potentially earning more playing time after he returns from groin surgery. Burton caught a pretty touchdown from Bradford against the Packers in the preseason; it'll be worth seeing if that connection continues.

Offensive tackle (3): Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Matt Tobin [20]

The Eagles are set with their starters, but it's the backup spots that could get dicey. Tobin can play guard and tackle, and will likely serve as the primary backup along the line. But should either of the starters go down, the depth along the offensive line will be tested.

Offensive guard (3): Allen Barbre, Andrew Gardner, John Moffitt [23]

As with the offensive tackle positions, the depth here could be an issue. Tobin can fill in at guard, but beyond him is only Moffitt. And while his off-field comeback story is definitely commendable, he hasn't shown very much on the field. Moffitt could end up being a long-term play, though, with the Eagles expecting him to get better as the season progresses.

Center (2): Jason Kelce, David Molk [25]

Nothing too surprising here. Kelce is a great player, and Molk is a fine backup.

DEFENSE

Defensive line (6): Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Vinny Curry, Taylor Hart [31]

This is the best position group on the team. Cox could be a perennial Pro Bowl Player, Bennie Logan has shown some real improvement and Cedric Thornton is an underrated performer. Elsewhere, Vinny Curry will likely split time at both defensive end and outside linebacker. The defensive line sets the tone for the Eagles' defense, and all six players on this list are capable contributors.

Inside linebacker (5): Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Najee Goode, Jordan Hicks [36]

This group has the potential to be a lot of fun. Alonso played a series in the Eagles' preseason finale on Thursday, and he adds to a group that includes the re-signed Mychal Kendricks and veteran DeMeco Ryans. They'll be backed up by rookie Jordan Hicks, who had some good moments in the preseason. Najee Goode is in the mix as well.

Alonso and Kendricks should get the bulk of the snaps during the season, with Ryans playing a fair amount as well. Don't expect Hicks to get much action. He'll be relegated to special teams, if he's active at all.

Outside linebacker (5): Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Brad Jones, Bryan Braman, Marcus Smith II [41]

Injuries to several linebackers has the Eagles carrying six outside 'backers in this scenario. The Eagles lost Travis Long for the year during training camp, and Marcus Smith II continues to battle a hamstring injury.

Barwin and Graham are the starters, and Braman is primarily a special teamer. Jones has the flexibility to play inside and outside, making him a valuable "swing" linebacker. Braman had a nice preseason at linebacker, and it remains to be seen if the coaches will give him snaps during the regular season.

Cornerback (5): Byron Maxwell, Nolan Carroll II, Eric Rowe, Jaylen Watkins, E.J. Biggers [46]

The Eagles' secondary played well in the preseason, including impressive performances by prized free agent Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll II. Outside of the starters are some question marks. Second round pick Eric Rowe is transitioning from safety to corner, and looked inconsistent this preseason. Ditto for Jaylen Watkins. E.J. Biggers, meanwhile, was one of the more surprising players in camp. Thought to be a last-chance camp body, Biggers has played well enough to warrant a spot on the roster.

Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Walter Thurmond III, Chris Maragos, Chris Prosinski [50]

Raise your hand if, in May, you saw Walter Thurmond III running away with the safety job. Now put your hand down, you liar.

The Eagles have some nice players in this bunch, including a couple impact special teams players. Malcolm Jenkins was one of the best players on the defense last year, and Thurmond has been a pleasant surprise this summer.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker (1): Cody Parkey [51]

Sorry, Kip Smith.

Punter (1): Donnie Jones [52]

He's a good punter, a good holder and a good TV host.

Long snapper (1): Jon Dorenbos [53]

The longest-tenured player on the Eagles sticks around.

Practice Squad (10)

Rasheed Bailey, WR
Raheem Mostert, RB
Diaheem Watkins, LB
Brian Mahalik, DL
Randall Evans, CB
Malcolm Bunche, OL
Eric Tomlinson, TE
Jerome Couplin III, DB
Denzel Rice, CB
GJ Kinne, WR/QB/Master of the Universe