The Philadelphia Eagles have made a number of roster changes lately due to the 2018 NFL Draft and some other signings. Now let’s take a look at what the team’s 2018 projected depth chart looks like with respect to these additions. We’ve gone over the offense and the defense so far. Now it’s time for special teams. I’ll make my first 53-man roster prediction tomorrow on Thursday. (Click here to see how things looked like this time last year.)
1 - Jake Elliott
2 - Kamu Grugier-Hill (on kickoffs, at least)
Elliott finished the 2017 season 26/31 (83.9%) on field goals and 39/42 on extra point attempts. It’ll never not be weird that he makes long kicks look easy and some short ones look difficult but keep in mind the 23-year-old was only a rookie last year. He’ll work on becoming more consistent. Meanwhile, Grugier-Hill was a beast on kickoffs when tasked to fill in for Elliott in an emergency situation last year.
1 - Cameron Johnston
Doug Pederson previously mentioned bringing in competition for Johnston but it hasn’t happened yet. The Eagles could always bring back Donnie Jones, who is a free agent after unretiring, if Johnston struggles. For what it’s worth, Johnston’s 43.0 net average ranked eighth out of 45 punters in preseason games last year.
1 - Rick Lovato
2 - Richard Rodgers
Lovato surprisingly beat out Jon Dorenbos last summer. He had a shaky snap or two that were bailed out thanks to great holds from Donnie Jones, but he wasn’t bad enough for the Eagles to bring in competition for his job. The Eagles lost both of their emergency long snappers this offseason now that Brent Celek and Trey Burton are gone. The good news is that free agent signing Richard Rodgers served as the Packers’ emergency snapper, so he has some experience in that role.
1 - Corey Clement
2 - Wendell Smallwood
3 - Donnel Pumphrey
4 - Avonte Maddox
5 - Rashard Davis
6 - Tim Wilson
It’s really anyone’s guess as to who the kick returner will end up being. The Eagles should test out multiple guys in training camp and preseason games to figure out who deserves the job. Last year, the Eagles only returned 18 kicks (just over one per game) so it’s not like this will be a vital role. Especially if the Eagles’ defense is good, which is hopefully the case. Still, someone’s gotta be back there on kickoffs.
1 - Darren Sproles
2 - Donnel Pumphrey
3 - Avonte Maddox
4 - Rashard Davis
5 - Tim Wilson
Assuming he’s fully healthy, Sproles still figures to be one of the most dangerous punt returners in the league. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone emerges as a backup behind him. Pumphrey should get his fair share of chances to show if he can contribute in this role. Davis intrigues me since he had 21 collegiate punt returns for 489 yards (a whopping 23.3 average) and FOUR touchdowns. That’s pretty good.
Key names include Kamu Grugier-Hill, Chris Maragos, Corey Clement, Mack Hollins, etc. This is an area where late round picks, UDFAs, and veteran backups will need to shine in order to earn a spot on the roster.
1 - Cameron Johnston
This is an underrated aspect of the new punter’s job. Jones was a really good holder for the Birds. As I previously mentioned, he bailed out the long snapper on some bad snaps. (Last year’s Panthers game comes to mind.) Johnston did spend a lot of time taking snaps from Lovato last summer so they’ve worked on their chemistry before.