clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Eagles 53-man roster projection: Pre-training camp edition

New, comments

Let’s get weird!

Philadelphia Eagles Minicamp Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The first 2019 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice begins at noon tomorrow, Thursday, July 25. The team is currently bringing 89 players into camp. As the summer winds down, though, the Eagles will eventually have to cut their roster down to the regular season 53-man limit. Some jobs will be won and lost based on how players perform in camp practices and preseason games.

The following is an early look how the Eagles’ final depth chart could play out. We’ll update these projections on a weekly basis throughout the summer.

Note that I tried to make this projection a little more fun/different as opposed to merely replicating my previous 53-man prediction immediately following spring minicamp.

OFFENSE

QB: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson (3) [3]

Wentz looked healthy and great during the spring. If he just can stay healthy, there’s every reason to believe he can have an awesome season. The pressure is on Sudfeld to step up as Nick Foles’ replacement. He can inspire more confidence by having a good summer. Thorson needs to make more progress in camp after struggling during OTAs and minicamp. I lean towards the Eagles keeping their 2019 fifth-round pick as a developmental project, especially with Sudfeld set to be a free agent in March 2020. Cody Kessler is essentially a camp arm.

RB: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement (4) [7]

The veteran Howard is the favorite to enter the season as the Eagles’ “1A” in their running back rotation. Howard could eventually lose playing time to Sanders if the rookie really starts to stand out. Aside from Wentz, Sanders is THE most interesting Eagles player to watch in training camp. We didn’t get to see him during spring drills since he was nursing a hamstring injury. Sproles, now 36, is back for what should be his last season for real this time. He’ll likely get a few offensive touches as a role player in addition to returning punts. Clement’s status is a little cloudy, especially with the Sproles re-signing. The Eagles were high on his potential heading into 2018 (per sources) but he underwhelmed during an injury-plagued sophomore season. Clement missed spring practices so we still need to see where he’s at health-wise. Wendell Smallwood is finally gone. Josh Adams, Boston Scott, and Donnel Pumphrey are all realistically competing for a practice squad spot at best.

WR: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins, Charles Johnson (5) [12]

And here’s where things get spicy! Nelson Agholor doesn’t make this list because I’m projecting him to get traded. I’ll share what I previously wrote on this possibility:

Agholor getting traded isn’t a likely outcome but there’s a non-zero chance. The Eagles are paying $9.4 million to a slot receiver in the final year of his deal ... at a time when they might be cutting back on their 11 personnel to play with more two tight end sets. Does it really seem impossible that they’d move him? [...] Agholor’s projected stats for 2019 are significantly lower than his past two years. ESPN’s Mike Clay has Agholor finishing with 36 receptions for 410 yards and three touchdowns this season. That’s a steep drop from the 768 and eight Agholor had in 2017 and the 736 and four he had in 2018.

I can envision a scenario where Arcega-Whiteside is looking really great and the Eagles want to move forward with the trio of him, Jeffery, and Jackson. Now, one of the problems with projecting an Agholor trade is that it doesn’t make sense to trade him for draft pick(s). Those picks aren’t going to help an Eagles team that’s aggressively trying to compete for a Super Bowl in 2019. So, an Agholor trade would likely require getting a veteran player in return (Agholor and a draft pick for Jadeveon Clowney, anyone?).

The Eagles will hope that Wentz and Jeffery can have a better on-field connection in 2019. There were some promising signs in that regard prior to last year’s Golden Tate trade. Wentz and Jackson already seem to have a great connection, which is very encouraging. Jackson’s field-stretching ability should make a big difference for the entire Eagles offense. Arcega-Whiteside was one of the top standouts from spring practices and I expect him to impress during the summer. Hollins is still alive, which is great to see, and he can contribute on special teams in addition to being a low usage role player. Keeping Johnson might be redundant with Hollins on the team but the AAF’s all-time leading receiver could make a real run at a roster spot. Johnson will be fighting with the likes of Shelton Gibson, Marken Michel, and Greg Ward.

TE: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers (3) [15]

The Eagles are extremely deep at tight end. The question is: will the Eagles find a way to get Dallas Goedert more involved? He’s too good not to be playing. At the same time, there are a lot of mouths to feed on offense and the Eagles were already among league leaders in multiple tight end sets last season. Dick Rod offers solid depth and special teams contributions.

OL: Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Stefen Wisniewski, Andre Dillard, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor [10] (25)

Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is counting on a bounce back season from Peters during the left tackle’s age 37 season. There’s a reasonable chance Peters will miss some playing time, though, considering how he struggled to finish games last year. Dillard, the team’s 2019 first-round pick, could be forced into action sooner than expected. Or it could be Vaitai playing left tackle if he’s not already starting at right guard while Brooks is recovering from his Achilles injury. Wis is the top backup interior offensive lineman (while Big V is starting, at least). 2018 late-round draft picks Mailata and Pryor will continue to develop behind the scenes.

DEFENSE

DE: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin, Josh Sweat (5) [30]

The Eagles are confident in their trio of Graham, Barnett, and Curry. But what do they have beyond those guys? I’ll say the team ends up re-signing Barwin, even though I question his effectiveness at this stage in his career. Barwin has been talking about how he’s had conversations with Howie Roseman and how he’s bulked up to play 4-3 defensive end. Sweat is definitely one of the most intriguing players to watch this summer but there’s a broad spectrum of outcomes with him. He might be good! He also might be bad. We do know the coaching staff didn’t trust him much as a rookie. Speaking of young guys, I have Shareef Miller — the very last pick of the fourth round — going on injured reserve with a phantom injury. He seems like a developmental guy even if he makes the 53. At least one of Daeshon Hall and/or Joe Ostman are going to be this year’s Steven Means where they tear it up in the preseason but fail to make the roster. Ostman could still stick on the practice quad.

DT: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Timmy Jernigan, Treyvon Hester, Hassan Ridgeway (5) [35]

I have the Eagles going with five here since Cox is still recovering from a foot injury and Jernigan almost had a career-ending back issue last year. Cox, Jackson, and Jernigan have the potential to be a VERY disruptive trio if things go according to plan. Hester is a fine fourth guy in the defensive tackle rotation. The Eagles traded a draft pick (albeit a late seventh-round selection) for one year of Ridgeway so they better have some use for him.

LB: Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nathan Gerry, Zach Brown, T.J. Edwards (5) [40]

Bradham is really the only player at this position who you know what their exact role is going to be. With Jordan Hicks gone, Bradham will be starting in the middle of the Eagles’ defense and making calls. That is, whenever he returns from the injury that kept him out of OTAs/minicamp. Grugier-Hill has the opportunity to step up and be the Eagles’ second most played linebacker. Brown will also be vying for that role. The coaching staff likes Gerry but I just think he’s more of a backup or weakside role player, if anything. I’m keeping L.J. Fort off here because I’m projecting the Eagles trade him for a 2020 sixth-round pick. Fort should have some value since teams were reportedly interested him early in free agency. By trading Fort, the Eagles save over $1.1 million in cap space, recoup a sixth-round pick, and prevent themselves from losing a 2020 fourth-round compensatory pick. The undrafted rookie free agent Edwards stepping up is what makes Fort expendable.

CB: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Cre’Von LeBlanc (6) [46]

Darby is reportedly going to begin training camp on active/Physically Unable to Perform, which opens the door to the possibility he could begin the regular season on reserve/PUP. I don’t think that happens, though. I think it’s Mills who could actually be on PUP. But we’ll see. There’s a reasonable chance neither Darby nor Mills are even ready for Week 1. If that’s the case, it could be Douglas and Jones starting on the outside with Maddox playing in the slot. I’ll repeat it for the billionth time: Maddox is too good to not be playing at some spot on the defense. Strap makes the team as a good backup nickel and special teams guy. Jeremiah McKinnon had a good spring but there just isn’t room for him on the roster. Same thing for Josh Hawkins.

S: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Blake Countess (4) [50]

Jenkins doesn’t seem to be planning a hold out despite the fact the Eagles haven’t met his desire for a new contract (yet). Good news for the team because the Eagles really need him. McLeod is aiming to be ready by Week 1. He might actually be ready considering he first got hurt in September 2018. If he can’t go, it could be Sendejo starting next to Jenkins. Sendejo is at risk of getting cut/traded with compensatory pick considerations in mind but I already left Fort off so “Dejo’s” spot is more secure. Countess is the new and improved Chris Maragos; a backup safety who is more of a special teams ace.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Jake Elliott (1) [51]

P: Cameron Johnston (1) [52]

LS: Rick Lovato (1) [53]

Lock city.

...

PRACTICE SQUAD (10): RB Boston Scott, WR Marken Michel, WR DeAndre Thompkins, TE Joshua Perkins, OL Ryan Bates, DE Joe Ostman, DT Bruce Hector, LB Alex Singleton, CB Jeremiah McKinnon, S Tre Sullivan


BGN RADIO PODCAST COMPONENT

John Stolnis and I previewd training camp and discussed the Eagles’ roster in even more detail on the latest BGN Radio episode. [CLICK HERE TO LISTEN] or use the embedded player below: