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Eagles 53-man roster projection: Pre-training camp edition

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Who will step up this summer and make the final roster?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The first day of 2016 Eagles training camp is set to take place on Monday, July 25. It'll just be quarterbacks, rookies, and a few select veterans practicing for a few days before the rest of the team reports on Wednesday, July 27.

The Eagles can bring up to 90 players into training camp. They currently only have 88. As the summer winds down and the regular season approaches, however, the Birds will eventually have to cut their roster down to the 53-man limit. Jobs will be won and lost based on how players perform this summer. For now, here's an early look how the Eagles' final 53-man depth chart could play out. We'll update these projections weekly throughout camp.


Quarterback - Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel Carson Wentz (3) [3]

The Eagles only have three quarterbacks on the roster so this is their group of the 2016 season. Everyone knows the deal with this position at this point: Bradford is the lame duck starter, Daniel is the veteran backup, and Wentz is the team's future franchise quarterback. The Eagles are hoping Bradford keeps them competitive in a weak NFC East this year. It'd be even more ideal for the team, however, if Wentz plays so well this summer that he forces the Birds to play him right away.

Running back - Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner (4) [7]

Doug Pederson suggested the Eagles are going to use a committee approach at running back. Even if that's the case, Mathews is still expected to lead the way in touches until if/when he gets hurt. The Eagles want to get Sproles more involved in the pass game. The 33-year-old veteran looked spry as ever during minicamp. Philadelphia is high on Smallwood. He might not be a full-time player as a rookie, but the Birds reportedly believe he can eventually be a lead back. It remains to be seen if the Eagles keep a fourth back. They might just stick with three and keep one or two on the practice squad. For now, I have Barner making the cut since the Eagles are so thin at this position. Rookie Byron Marshall could also push for the fourth spot.

Wide receiver - Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Rueben Randle, Chris Givens (5) [12]

Matthews is the team's best receiver. It seems most of his playing time will still come in the slot. The Eagles are hoping Agholor and Huff can step up. Even if just one of them does, that would be big. Randle and Givens are the veterans in this bunch and they'll push the young guys. Randle was productive for the Giants despite falling out of favor in New York. Givens adds a deep threat element to Philadelphia's receiver corps. There's certainly room for role players in this bunch.

Tight end - Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Chris Pantale (4) [16]

Ertz finished the 2015 season really strong. The team needs him to carry that kind of performance over into 2016. Along with Matthews, he's one of the team's best options in the passing attack. Pederson's offense could feature a heavy dosage of tight ends so Ertz shouldn't lack opportunity to make plays. Not to mention he's arguably Bradford's favorite target. Celek figures to continue to contribute as a blocking tight end. The Eagles split Burton out wide a number of times during spring practices. They could and should give him looks in the passing game. Pantale impressed this spring. If he can contribute on special teams, he might make the team as a quasi-fullback / reserve tight end.

Offensive line - Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly, Halapoulivaati Vaitai (10) [26]

Four out of five starters along the offensive line are locked in. Barbre is the only one who might realistically lose his spot at left guard. Seumalo and Wisniewski will be pushing to start. Then there will be competition for the depth jobs. Tobin and Kelly both received one year contract extensions this offseason and they have playing experience so they have that working for them. Vaitai could spend his whole rookie season inactive on game day.


Defensive tackle - Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Mike Martin, Destiny Vaeao (4) [30]

Cox and Logan could be one the best starting 4-3 defensive tackle duos in the NFL. Both of them should excel in the new 4-3 scheme. The depth behind the starters is questionable. Martin appears to be the first tackle off the bench based on what was seen in spring practices. Pederson praised the team's UDFA defensive tackles this spring so perhaps the team really likes at least one of them. For Vaeao, it's destiny that he makes the team. (I'll see myself out.)

Defensive end - Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman (5) [35]

Curry, Barwin, and Graham will all rotate at defensive end. It'll be interesting to see how the reps are split there. The depth behind the three starters is sketchy. The Eagles might give Smith one last shot to prove he belongs in the NFL. Braman could make the team as a special teams contributor. Seventh round pick Alex McCalister is talented but might be too raw to contribute this season. The Eagles could hope to stash him on injured reserve or the practice squad (see the bottom of this post).

Linebacker - Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Joe Walker (5) [40]

Hicks is the MIKE, Bradham is the SAM, and Kendricks is the WIL. Goode appears to be the top backup at all three positions. The reserve linebacker spots are up for grabs. Walker, Myke Tavarres, and Quentin Gause could be competing for one spot. Deontae Skinner is also in the mix. It remains to be seen if the Eagles have any interest in adding veteran Stephen Tulloch to this group.

Cornerback - Leodis McKelvin, Eric Rowe, Ron Brooks, Nolan Carroll, Jalen Mills, Denzel Rice (6) [46]

The Eagles really seem to like McKelvin. He took all the first team reps during the spring and he looked good while doing it. The second cornerback spot is up for grabs. Rowe showed potential as a rookie but struggled a little during OTAs and minicamp. He needs a strong offseason to win the outside job. Rowe will be competing against veterans Brooks and Carroll. If Rowe wins, Brooks could figure to be the team's nickel cornerback while Carroll could play in dime packages. Mills impressed in spring practices but we need to see how he fares when the pads go on. Rice came out of nowhere to make the final roster last year. He just might surprise some again this offseason.

Safety - Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Blake Countess (4) [50]

Jenkins and McLeod are the starters. They might combine to form one of the NFL's best starting safety tandems. The problem is that if one of them goes down to injury, the Eagles are probably screwed. Maragos is a good special teams contributor but isn't a full-time safety. Countess is a sixth round rookie. The Eagles really need better depth at this spot.


Kicker - Caleb Sturgis (1) [51]

Sturgis has a slight lead on Parkey going into camp, but this job will truly be determined over the course of the summer. It should be easy to tell who's kicking better.

Punter - Donnie Jones (1) [52]

No competition for Donnie Football. The 36-year-old is still going strong.

Long snapper - Jon Dorenbos (1) [53]

Dorenbos will have to fight off rookie challenger John DePalma. Complicating matters is that Dorenbos is competing in America's Got Talent. The Eagles gave "unprecedented" money to DePalma as an undrafted rookie free agent so this is a legitimate competition.


Practice Squad (10)

RB Byron Marshall, WR Xavier Rush, WR Cayleb Jones, OG Malcolm Bunche, OG Darrell Greene, CB C.J. Smith, LB Quentin Gause, LB Myke Tavarres, DT Aziz Shittu, DE Alex McCalister