In our 53-man roster projection yesterday, BLG was forced to predict some surprising roster cuts, thanks to a wealth of talent throughout the roster. While most positions are already somewhat set in stone, a few of them are far from it. Here are some of the most anticipated positional battles come training camp.
- Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey, Boston Scott
After trading for Jordan Howard, the Eagles double dipped in the running back waters by drafting Miles Sanders out of Penn State in the second round. These two are joined by 2016 Philadelphia draftee, Wendell Smallwood, 2017 Philadelphia draftee Donnel Pumphrey, 2018 New Orleans draftee Boston Scott, as well as UDFAs Corey Clement, Josh Adams, and Boston Scott.
- Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders
While almost all of these guys have shown flashes of brilliance (looking at you Donnel), the only two guys who feel like true locks are the two newest additions. If the Eagles truly felt comfortable with the others, they probably would not have felt the need to add Howard and Sanders to the mix.
- Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement
Last year the Eagles chose to keep just four running backs after starting 2017 with five. The feeling here is that with the addition of Howard and Sanders, the team can get by with just four, reserving that extra spot for another position in need (see four positions below). Smallwood and Clement are projected to get the last two spots due to their experience in both the system and the league.
- Tackles: Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jordan Mailata, Tyreek Burwell
- Centers: Jason Kelce, Anthony Fabiano, Keegan Render
- Guards: Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Pryor, Stefan Wisniewski, Nate Herbig, Johnny Gibson Jr., Iosua Opeta, Ryan Bates
The Eagles moved up and drafted Andre Dillard with the 22nd overall pick, a move that ultimately should bolster the offensive line for the foreseeable future. While Dillard has been called the best tackle in the class, he will likely be redshirted in what could be the final season of Jason Peters. In addition to Dillard, the Eagles inked UDFA offensive guards Iosua Opeta, Ryan Bates, and Nate Herbig. Opeta and Bates, in particular, have both been considered to be pretty talented by draftniks. Johnny Gibson Jr. signed with the team after looking promising in rookie tryouts.
- Tackles: Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard
- Centers: Jason Kelce
- Guards: Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Stefan Wisniewski
In addition to the incumbent starters, the first round draftee is obviously a lock, as is the recently resigned Stefan Wisniewski who provides great value due to his ability to back up all three interior positions.
- Tackles: Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jordan Mailata
- Centers: Jason Kelce
- Guards: Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Pryor, Stefan Wisniewski
While some are petitioning to have Big V traded or cut, his value as a Super-Bowl-winning swing tackle is nothing to scoff at. Once Peters rides off into the sunset and Dillard steps into the starting roster, a player like Vaitai will be good to have around. Mailata likely takes another year on the bench as he continues to learn the game of American Football. While not having a backup center seems odd at first, the versatility of Seumalo and Wisniewski allows the flexibility for the team. Matt Pryor beats out the quartet of UDFA guards due to experience, but his position on the team is far from guaranteed.
- Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, Joe Ostman, Daeshon Hall
Vinny Curry is back, baby. For the eighth year in a row, the Eagles have drafted an Edge Defender, with this years’ selection being Shareef Miller out of Penn State (anyone else starting to notice a #PennStateBias?). Ostman, who the coaches seem to love, is with the team again after spending 2018 on the practice squad.
- Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Shareef Miller
With so many notable names at the position, not many of them are safe from being cut. Brandon Graham, a leader among the defensive front, is obviously not going anywhere. Nor is expected starter and 2017 first round pick, Derek Barnett. 2019 draft selection Shareef Miller will almost certainly make the team given the cost to get him. Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat will have to prove their worth against the hungry young players Joe Ostman and Daeshon Hall.
- Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Daeshon Hall, Shareef Miller
BLG projected yesterday that Daeshon Hall will get the fifth and final spot over Josh Sweat. He also pointed out that it seems unlikely that Chris Long will return to the NFL. I personally would like to see the team keep six here and allow Josh Sweat another season to prove his worth, as I think he might be a better player than Shareef Miller in 2019, I think BLG likely hit the nail on the head with this projection.
- Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Jeremiah McKinnon, Jay Liggins, Josh Hawkins
The Eagles have six returning cornerbacks who all played significant amounts of time in 2018. In addition to these guys, the Eagles have former practice squad member Jeremiah McKinnon and 2019 UDFA Liggins fighting for a spot. Josh Hawkins is likely just a camp body.
- Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Avonte Maddox
The coaching staff loves Mills, and because of that he certainly isn’t going anywhere. Darby will likely start opposite him, barring any unforeseen health issues. Maddox was an absolute unit last year. His impressive play paired with his positional versatility has him on the 2019 roster. 2017 second round draftee Sidney Jones and Third round draft pick Rasul Douglas both need to prove their worth, as some are beginning to wonder whether or not they are beginning to overstay their welcome.
- Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Cre’Von LeBlanc
It’s hard to imagine the Eagles letting any of these guys go after last year. While the former three were all locks, the latter three have all shown flashes of talent and have all earned another year in the system. Given the health problems that plagued the Eagles secondary last season, I think it would be wise for the team to keep six here, instead of the usual five.
- Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Tre Sullivan, Blake Countess, Andrew Sendejo, Deiondre’ Hall, Godwin Igwebuike
Blake Countess returns to the team after proving to be a special teams ace, of sorts. Former Viking Andrew Sendejo, along with 2016 Chicago draftee Deiondre’ Hall and 2018 UDFRA Godwin Igwebuike are new faces fighting for a roster spot that might not exist.
- Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Blake Countess
Jenkins and McLeod will once again be the starting safety duo for the Eagles. Countess steps into the “Maragos Role” as a safety who primarily will be used on STs, but can fill in as needed. Note, Avonte Maddox is also a quasi-safety who will almost certainly get snaps at safety.
- Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Tre Sullivan, Blake Countess
Out of Sullivan, Sendejo, Hall, and Igwebuike, BLG has the team keeping the hard-hitting Sullivan. This is probably the biggest disagreement I have with his roster projection. I think Sendejo has more talent, more experience, and, quite frankly, a way cooler name. I’d be okay with the team keeping both, but if it’s one or the other, I would prefer the former Viking. For what it’s worth, PFF had Sendejo as the 41st ranked safety with a grade of 69.7, while Sullivan was ranked 69th with a grade of 61.9.
While these five positions will likely be the toughest decisions for the coaching staff, there will be other battles across the roster to watch throughout the summer. Stay tuned to Bleeding Green Nation as we will monitor these positional battles as they continue to develop. Tell us what positional battle you are most excited to watch in the comments below.