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Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster prediction: NFL Preseason Week 1 Edition

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles training camp is more than two weeks old and the team is just a few days away from their first 2016 NFL preseason game. There's still plenty of time for position battles to be decided and jobs to be won or lost this summer. In the meantime, here's a projection of what the Eagles' final 53-man roster could look like.


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

Cut and dry. Bradford is the starter. He's looked like the best quarterback in camp. Though he's been far from perfect, he's been much more consistent than Daniel and Wentz. Eagles fans will be excited to get to see Wentz play a lot in the preseason before he's put on the shelf for the regular season.

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

Mathews finally returned to practice after entering camp with an ankle injury. He's looked good in practice; he's still an explosive runner and strong in pass protection. As it's been written all offseason, however, it's really only a matter of time before he gets hurt. The Eagles almost have to keep four running backs, then, especially with Smallwood currently missing a week or so of practice. Barner hasn't stood out in a great way but if the last two summers are any indication he could shine in the preseason. Byron Marshall has made more mistakes than Barner and could be a practice squad guy.

Wide receiver - Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Chris Givens, Rueben Randle, Josh Huff, Paul Turner (6) [13]

Matthews is expected to miss most, if not all, of the preseason with a knee injury. Agholor hasn't really stood out a ton during camp. The Eagles really need him to show something this summer. Givens has been good at getting open deep but he's dealt with some drop issues. Outside of Matthews, Randle has probably been the Eagles' most consistent receiver. He's made some nice catches and rarely drops the ball. Huff has been brutal. He's dropped a lot of passes. I'm only leaving him on here because the Eagles reportedly still believe in him and he's the starting kick returner. Turner has been getting a lot of praise from the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich specifically said he likes Turner's consistency, toughness, and route-running.

Tight end - Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Dillon Gordon (4) [17]

Pederson has already indicated that the Eagles plan to keep four tight ends. The first three players are obvious. Burton has had a tremendous camp this year, catching everything thrown his way. Gordon is a non-threat as a receiver because he's not actually a tight end right now. He played that position in college, but he was more of a blocker than anything and now the Eagles have him lined up as a guard. Gordon has taken some second team fullback reps, especially near the goal line, however. If not Gordon, the Eagles could look to add a blocking tight end and/or fullback type after final cuts go through. It's hard to justify giving Chris Pantale a roster spot right now because, despite having a good spring, he's really struggled this summer.

Offensive line - Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly (9) [26]

Peters suffered a quad injury but he's expected to return by Philadelphia's second preseason game. Tobin has been taking first team reps at his spot with Johnson staying at right tackle.

Brooks is back at right guard after starting camp with a hamstring injury. Wisniewski looked good in Brooks' absence but he's back to being the second team right guard. Seumalo is the second team left guard. One of Wiz or Seumalo will serve as the team's backup center behind Kelce. Probably Wiz.

Rookie fifth round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai has worked as the third string right tackle. He's not a lock to make the team. I think the Eagles would like to stash him on the injured reserve list, if possible. Or maybe he'd make it to the practice squad. If Vaitai does make the team, he could spend the entire season without seeing a snap, similar to Taylor Hart in 2014.


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

Cox and Logan are the starters while Martin has emerged as the team's third defensive tackle. I have Vaeao making it over Hart and Beau Allen here because he's impressed at times. He's also drawn unprompted praise from the coaching staff.

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

Graham, Barwin, and Curry have all rotated at first and second team defensive end this summer. All three players should get their fair share of playing time this year. I'm pulling the plug on Marcus Smith. The former first round pick is currently missing practice due to a concussion. Meanwhile, Means has shined in his absence. Braman makes the team because he's a special teams beast. Alex McCalister definitely has potential but he's too raw to make the final cut.

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

The Eagles might have to keep six linebackers here due to injury concerns. It's also worth mentioning the Eagles are reportedly interested in Stephen Tulloch, so he could be added to the mix. In the meantime, Goode is potentially the top backup at all three linebacker spots. Walker has earned praise from both Pederson and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. He could also be vying for the backup middle linebacker job. (A former Oregon linebacker potentially starting in the middle of a wide-nine defense ... what could go wrong?)

Cornerback - Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Nolan Carroll, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe (5) [45]

McKelvin and Brooks, yes, Ron Brooks, could actually be your starters for the 2016 season. Brooks also appears to be the team's starting nickel cornerback. When the Eagles go to nickel, Carroll plays on the outside. There's still time for things to change, but that appears to be the setup for now. Elsewhere, Mills has obviously had an impressive summer. The rookie cornerback has made a number of plays on the ball. So why isn't he starting, then? It's clear he also has flaws. Mills has gotten beat more than a few times by the deep ball. Rowe has fallen from being a projected starter to the last corner on the depth chart. It's a shame, too, because he's looked good ever since the pads came on in camp. He's real physical. The likes of Aaron Grymes, Denzel Rice, and C.J. Smith could be competing for a sixth corner spot here. JaCorey Shepherd might be in the mix too but he's been missing practice with a hamstring injury.

Safety - Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Blake Countess, Jaylen Watkins, Chris Maragos (5) [50]

McLeod has been awesome in camp. Jenkins looked good before suffering a hamstring injury. Countess has been impressive in coverage and he hasn't been afraid to hit people, either. Watkins, who has spent most of his NFL career playing at cornerback, has looked good at safety. His versatility could help him win a depth job. The fact that he's a former Florida player doesn't hurt. (Howie Roseman's #GatorBias.) Maragos is a special teams ace.


Kicker - Caleb Sturgis (1) [51]

Sturgis has been better than Cody Parkey throughout spring and summer practices.

Punter - Donnie Jones (1) [52]

What more needs to be said?

Long snapper - Jon Dorenbos (1) [53]

The magic man probably won't be outdone by rookie long snapper John DePalma.


Practice Squad (10)

RB Byron Marshall, WR Marcus Johnson, WR Cayleb Jones, OG Darrell Greene, OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, DE Alex McCalister, DT Aziz Shittu, LB Myke Tavarres, CB Aaron Grymes, S Ed Reynolds