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Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster prediction: Third week of NFL preseason edition

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Who will make the final cut?

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We've learned a lot about the outlook of the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster through four weeks of training camp and two preseason games. Now it's time to take that knowledge and make an updated 53-man roster projection. Let's see how much things have changed since last week’s prediction.

OFFENSE

Quarterback - Carson Wentz, Nick Foles (2) [2]

It’s pretty obvious that the Eagles should only keep two quarterbacks. Matt McGloin has really struggled this summer. He’s pretty much unwatchable at this point. Just roll with two on the 53-man and keep Dane Evans on the practice squad.

Running back - LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement (4) [6]

There’s been speculation about the Eagles cutting Blount. I don’t think it happens. Smallwood’s roster spot seems pretty safe despite the fact he’s missed some time with a hamstring injury. Now that he’s back at practice, this will be a big week for him. The Eagles really need their 2016 fifth-round pick to step up this season. I think there’s a good chance Clement doesn’t make the team despite the fact he’s shown some positive flashes. He could still use improvement when it comes to catching the ball and pass blocking. But Clement gets the nod over Donnel Pumphrey here because the latter doesn’t look very NFL-ready. Pumphrey has really failed to impress this summer. He hasn’t looked particularly explosive or quick. His ball security issues make him hard to trust. The feeling here is the Eagles might try to put Pumphrey on injured reserve with a phantom injury. It’s really a shame that this year’s draft class featured a lot of running back talent and the Eagles traded up in the fourth round for a player who never really projects to be a lead back.

Wide receiver - Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Greg Ward Jr. (6) [12]

Jeffery and Smith will start on the outside while Agholor is the main guy in the slot. Hollins could be the top backup at any spot. He’ll be on active on game day due to his special teams contributions. The Eagles are intrigued with Johnson’s athleticism and he’s had a good offseason so he figures to make the roster as well. Ward has made surprisingly quick progress in his transition from quarterback to receiver. The undrafted rookie from Houston gives the Eagles more depth in the slot. Shelton Gibson is on the bubble here after looking better in practice recently than he did at the start of camp. Bryce Treggs had a nice showing in the first preseason game but he’s since been out after suffering a leg injury. The battle for the sixth (and seventh?) spot could still be open.

Tight end - Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton (3) [15]

Burton could see an increased role on offense this year with Jordan Matthews gone. Wentz seems to really like him. The only question here is whether the Eagles will keep Billy Brown as their fourth tight end. I wouldn’t rule it out, but for now that’s not what I expect the team to do.

Offensive line - Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Dillon Gordon, Matt Tobin (9) [24]

The starters are obvious. Wis, Big V, and Gordon also seem like obvious inclusions as backups. I wouldn’t say Chance Warmack is a lock to make the team. The Jeff Stoutland connection obviously bolds well for him, but Warmack has struggled this summer. And he only plays one position: guard. It’s not like Tobin is a great player, but at least he offers some tackle/guard versatility.

DEFENSE

Defensive end - Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Alex McCalister (5) [29]

Barnett is eventually going to be starting over Curry if he continues to look awesome. It’s probably just a matter of when, not if. Heck, Long might even push for more playing time than Curry given how he’s flashed in the preseason. The fifth defensive end spot is an interesting battle (for as interesting as fifth defensive end battles can be). Means is straight up dominating dudes in the preseason, though he’s going against backups. The Eagles might opt to keep the younger McCalister instead of the soon-to-be-27-year-old Means. Maybe Means is a guy the Eagles can trade or package in a trade to a team that desperately needs pass rushing help.

Defensive tackle - Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Destiny Vaeao, Justin Hamilton, Elijah Qualls (5) [34]

Vaeao seems cemented as the third defensive tackle behind the obvious starters on the inside. After that? Things are up in the air. Hamilton is included here because he’s been getting a lot of the second team DT reps next to Vaeao. It seems like the Eagles like him. Qualls is on the bubble. The team’s sixth round draft pick is athletic but there are concerns about his size.

Linebacker - Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Joe Walker, Nate Gerry (5) [39]

Mychal Kendricks is playing like a man who wants to be traded. But maybe the Eagles just keep him instead? I don’t know, it seems odd that he’d suddenly be a big part of the team’s plan moving forward after only playing 27% of the snaps last year. I still think there’s a reasonable chance Kendricks gets traded. For now, though, he’s here. Walker fits in as the top MIKE backup. The Eagles seem to like Gerry’s potetial. Kamu Grugier-Hill was a tough cut here but he might be a little redundant given Gerry’s presence. KGH is a former safety turned linebacker as well. As for Najee Goode, he could easily make this roster. There’s a thought that the Eagles might cut him as they have in past years, though, and bring him back after Week 1 so his 2017 salary won’t be fully guaranteed.

Cornerback - Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Ron Brooks, C.J. Smith (6) [45]

Darby looks pretty good. I’d say he’s a lock to make the team. Mills is the other starter on the outside. It seems like the nickel corner spot is up for grabs. Robinson has looked much better there than he has on the outside. Ron Brooks, meanwhile, has missed some due to injury. Maybe the Eagles only keep one of those two players. Since they’re both injury prone, however, I have the team keeping both. Douglas has shown potential but might not be ready to play a ton in 2017 so for now he’s a backup. Smith is on the bubble after having an up and down summer. Aaron Grymes is another name to watch here. He’d give the Eagles more depth in the slot.

Safety - Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Terrence Brooks, Chris Maragos (5) [50]

Jenkins, McLeod, and Graham are locks. It’s been suggested the Eagles could cut Maragos but I don’t see that at all. He’s the special teams captain, for one, and Philadelphia just signed him to a three-year extension last November. Brooks could be the odd man out if the Eagles only keep four safeties. In my view, Brooks has looked good and deserves to be on the team. But maybe there’s some kind of concern I’m missing.

The Eagles have really great depth at this position, by the way. Jenkins and McLeod are two very good starters. Graham is a starting quality player who will have a role in this defense. Brooks has impressed this summer. Maragos is one of the best special teams players in the NFL and can adequately play on the back end of the defense in an emergency situation.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker - Caleb Sturgis (1) [51]

Sturgis is 3/5 this preseason with misses from 45 and 46 yards out. He went 8/8 in practice on Sunday, however, and Doug Pederson has said he’s not concerned about the team’s kicker.

Punter - Donnie Jones (1) [52]

No chance that Cameron Johnston beats him out.

Long snapper - Jon Dorenbos (1) [53]

It’s a mystery why the Eagles are still carrying Rick Lovato on the roster.

INJURED PLAYERS

Sidney Jones and Beau Allen opened training camp on the active/non-football injury list. This means they can be activated at any time. If they’re not, they can eventually be placed on the regular season NFI list, which means they’ll have to miss at least the first six weeks of the season. They won’t count towards the roster limit during that span. Pederson recently said Allen is “getting close” and hopes to have him for Week 1 but wouldn’t put a timetable on his recovery.

PRACTICE SQUAD

QB Dane Evans, RB Byron Marshall, WR Shelton Gibson, TE Billy Brown, OG Darrell Greene, C Tyler Orlosky, DT Winston Craig, LB Don Cherry, CB Jomal Wiltz, S Tre Sullivan