The Philadelphia Eagles have made a number of roster changes this offseason. Now let’s take a look at what the team’s 2019 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. Then I’ll publish my first 53-man roster prediction later today. (Click here to see how things looked like this time last year.)
1 - Jake Elliott
The Eagles decided not to bring in competition for Elliott, which is fine. He’s a good kicker. With that said, it’d still be nice to see the 24-year-old improve on his short game. Elliott ranked 20th in XP% in 2018 and 25th in 2017.
1 - Cameron Johnston
Last year at this time, there was thought the Eagles should bring in competition for the largely unproven Johnston. It didn’t happen, though, and it was ultimately the right call. Johnston unquestionably has a strong leg but it would be nice to see him improve his directional punting.
1 - Rick Lovato
2 - Richard Rodgers
PFF had Lovato as their eighth best graded long snapper last year. Not sure exactly how they came up with that but there you go. The Eagles retaining Dick Rod as their third tight end also meant they kept their emergency long snapper.
1 - Corey Clement
2 - Boston Scott
3 - Wendell Smallwood
4 - Shelton Gibson
Clement led the Eagles in kick returns last season with 13. He averaged 25.6 yards per return, which is a solid mark. Seems like an easy decision to keep him back there for 2019. Scott averaged 24.0 on four returns while filling in for Clement late in 2018 but there’s no guarantee he even makes the roster this year. Smallwood and Gibson could also potentially be on the outs. If they aren’t, they could be called upon as backup kick returners.
1 - DeSean Jackson
2 - DeAndre Thompkins
3 - Greg Ward
4 - Donnel Pumphrey
Kind of interested to see what the Eagles do at punt returner. If the Eagles re-sign Darren Sproles, he could resume that role. If not, well, it’s not exactly clear who it’s going to be. Jackson was obviously a huge threat as a punt returner for the Eagles early in his career. Prior to returning five punts in 2018, though, Jackson didn’t handle a single punt return in 2016 and 2017. Point being: it really hasn’t been part of his game in some time. Perhaps the Eagles could look to use the 32-year-old speedster in situations where they need a special teams spark. Thompkins is a long shot to make the roster as a receiver but the Penn State alumnus brings some returning juice to the table. Thompkins returned 66 punts for a quality 10.2 average and two touchdowns in college. Maybe he can sneak on to the roster as a punt return specialist. Ward finished as the AAF’s all-time leader in punt return average at 15.0; he had nine punt returns for 135 yards and one score. I imagine the Eagles will give Pump some punt return looks to see if he can show anything there.
LaRoy Reynolds and D.J. Alexander finished second and fourth in Eagles special teams tackles last year, respectively. Both players left in free agency so the Eagles will be counting on some new faces. L.J. Fort and Blake Countess are among offseason acquisitions who could help boost a Philly special teams unit that ranked league average in terms of DVOA last season.
1 - Cameron Johnston
I can’t recall Johnston screwing up holds in first season on the job. He’ll get even more reps with Lovato this offseason.