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Eagles 53-man roster prediction after one week of training camp

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Who will make the final cut?

NFL: AUG 01 Eagles Training Camp Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles have held seven practices since training camp began last week and we’ve learned a lot about this year’s team since then. Now it’s time to put that knowledge to use in the form of an updated 53-man roster projection. Let’s see how much things have changed since last week’s projection. Keep in mind I do one of these predictions every week and I reserve the right to change my opinion at any time in order to make myself look smarter than I really am.

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudeld (2) [2]

Overall, Wentz has looked pretty good this entire offseason. There’s plenty of reason to feel encouraged about him heading into 2019. Sudfeld has been up and down but his best practices have taken place recently. We’ll see if he can keep that positive momentum going in the preseason games. I have the Eagles only keeping two quarterbacks here since Clayton Thorson has been pretty awful. It’s gotten to the point where the Eagles are no longer giving him all the third team reps by default. I think there’s a decent chance the Eagles will still keep Thorson since they used one of their five selections from the 2019 NFL Draft (a fifth-round pick) on him. But which other teams are really going to be in a rush to put Thorson on their roster? Thorson definitely isn’t one of the best 53 players on the Eagles’ 90-man roster right now and his upside seemingly tops out as a solid backup quarterback. Not super inspiring. Even if Thorson DOES make the 53, I don’t think he’s the true No. 3 quarterback. I think the Eagles would re-sign Cody Kessler, who should still be available if/when he’s cut, to back up Sudfeld if Wentz had to miss a significant period of time.

Running back: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement (4) [6]

Howard gets a lot of work with the first team. He’s the favorite to be the 1A in the Eagles’ running back rotation early on in the season. The Eagles won’t be able to resist putting Sanders on the field, though, if he proves himself reliable to the coaching staff. After watching him practice, it’s clear that Sanders is much more dynamic and explosive than any other Eagles running back. Sproles is going to be an offensive role player in addition to the team’s primary punt returner. The 36-year-old still looks spry and fast. Clement started participating in 7-on-7 this week and he said he hopes to be full go by the first preseason game. Some have questioned if Clement’s a roster lock and I tend to think he is given that the team was so high on him heading into 2018. Besides, I don’t see another running back that’s really threatening to take his job. One of Josh Adams or Boston Scott is worth keeping around on the practice squad.

Wide receiver: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins (5) [11]

Pro Football Focus believes the Eagles have the best wide receiving corps in the NFL. It does project as a very good and diversified group. Jeffery offers strength and size. Jackson is still fast as ever. Agholor brings shiftiness in the slot. Arcega-Whiteside’s cooled off a little after looking really good in the spring. He doesn’t seem to be on the same page with Wentz just yet. That should come with time. It’s worth noting that the Eagles did give JJ some first team offense reps in the red zone, which is an area he should be able to contribute thanks to his jump ball ability. Hollins needs to get healthy. Assuming he can, he projects as a good special teams guy with offensive role player upside. Guys like Greg Ward and Carlton Agudosi are giving the Eagles something to think about when it comes to potentially keeping a sixth receiver. Keeping Ward would give the Eagles depth at slot receiver and punt returner ... not to mention he could be an emergency quarterback! The 6-6 Agudosi has made a number of flash plays and he was especially effective during red zone drills this week. For now, I’m keeping both of those guys on the practice squad. DeAndre Thompkins also deserves practice squad consideration.

Tight end: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers, Joshua Perkins (4) [15]

Four tight ends might seem excessive but I don’t think it’s crazy for a team planning to utilize more 12 personnel (and maybe even more 13 personnel?) this year. I’m also reading into Perkins taking first team special teams reps with a bunch of other players who are going to make the roster. But whether it’s three or four, this is obviously an excellent group. We already know what Ertz can do in this offense. The Eagles will be actively trying to lose more games if they don’t get Goedert, who is a stud, more involved. Rodgers is a perfectly cromulent third tight end.

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

The starting lineup could be in place as soon as Week 1 with Brooks surprisingly avoiding the PUP list. Even if it’s not Week 1, Brooks should be ready to play within the first few games at the latest. We’ll have to see how effective he is coming off injury. If he’s looking good, the Eagles should maintain their status as one of the league’s best offensive lines. And not just because of the starters, but because of their depth as well. Vaitai is an experienced backup and Dillard, the team’s 2019 first-round pick, has already shown promise in camp. Wis has struggled to snap the ball as the second team center but he has plenty of NFL starting experience as an interior lineman. Pryor has versatility to play four offensive line spots and he’s looked good whenever I’ve seen him. Mailata’s struggled in his second camp but he’s still only 22 years old and he only played in his first professional football game not even one year ago. The Eagles could afford to give him more time to develop with Peters (retirement) and Vaitai (free agent) both likely gone after this season. Keeping 10 offensive linemen makes sense for a team that so highly values the trenches.

DEFENSE

Defensive end: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Joe Ostman (5) [30]

It’s at least a little concerning to me that Barnett hasn’t practiced in team drills yet. I mean, he doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy of missing Week 1. But the team is really counting on him to step up this year and the 23-year-old isn’t getting reps right now. It’d be nice to see him out there soon. The Sweat hype train pulled into the station last week with Lane Johnson telling reporters that there are going to be “big f***ng things from him this year.” Hopefully Sweat justifies the hype with a good preseason where he looks ready to contribute to the pass rush rotation. It’s hard to leave Ostman off the roster when he’s looked great in camp and Jim Schwartz is giving Ostman first team reps to see if the team can find a role for him. I don’t see the Eagles cutting fourth-round pick Shareef Miller but I could see him being stashed away on injured reserve with a phantom injury. Miller needs some time to develop.

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

Cox still isn’t participating in team drills as he recovers from his foot injury. Jackson hasn’t particularly stood out to me but that could change once the real action starts. Jernigan, who has a lot to prove as he hopes to test free agency after 2019, is looking healthy and effective once again. Great to see that. Hester and Ridgeway have had their moments and should be able to contribute in the rotation. Keeping five defensive tackles makes sense given that Cox isn’t 100% and Jernigan almost suffered a career-ending injury last year. And, again, the Eagles are an organization that builds through the trenches.

Linebacker: Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Zach Brown, Nathan Gerry, L.J. Fort (5) [40]

Bradham, Grugier-Hill, and Brown have been the Eagles’ base defense linebackers during group install. The Eagles primarily only use two linebackers, though, and I think it’ll end up being Bradham and Gruger-Hill as those guys. Bradham has experience playing the middle and calling the defense. Grugier-Hill, meanwhile, has had a very strong camp. He’s made a number of plays. Brown could see more playing time against teams that want to run the ball. The coaching staff is high on Gerry’s football IQ and he can play special teams. The Eagles could cut Fort in order to receive a 2020 fourth-round pick but I don’t think they’ll be doing that, as I explained in [more detail here].

Cornerback: Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Orlando Scandrick, Cre’Von LeBlanc (6) [46]

The Eagles’ corner position is unsettled. The trio of Douglas, Jones, and Maddox have been playing well with the first team defense. But Philadelphia didn’t re-sign Darby to a one-year, $6.5 million contract to have him sit the bench. So I’d think Darby will be starting when healthy. It remains to be seen if that’ll be Week 1 but the fact he wasn’t placed on active/PUP is a good sign for his chances of playing at some point in September. It just might be difficult to take one of Douglas, Jones, and Maddox off the field because they’re all making legitimate cases to be starting. I do feel like Douglas should definitely be starting on the outside. Figuring out where to use Jones and Maddox (nickel? outside?) is something that still needs to be worked out. I’m keeping Scandrick on the team because it’s hard not be skeptical about the report that LeBlanc will be ready for Week 1. If LeBlanc IS truly healthy, Scandrick won’t be needed on the team. Until then, he’s a backup in the nickel spot and he can play outside in a pinch. I’m keeping Jeremiah McKinnon on the practice squad for even more corner depth. McKinnon’s had some nice moments this offseason.

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

McLeod seems to be making good progress towards playing Week 1. He participated in 7-on-7 this week and he feels he’ll be full go by the third preseason game. Even so, one must wonder how effective the 29-year-old will be coming off such a serious knee injury. The uncertainty with McLeod contributes to Sendejo being safe to make the team despite the fact the Eagles could cut him to preserve a 2020 fourth-round compensatory pick. Sendejo has earned praise from the coaching staff and he’s been taking first team reps all offseason long. The battle for the fourth and/or fifth safeties will be determined by the rest of training camp and preseason games. Blake Countess, Tre Sullivan, and now Johnathan Cyprien are competing for two spots at most and maybe just one. I’m keeping Countess on the roster because he’s known for his special teams ability and I can still keep Sullivan around on the practice squad.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: Jake Elliott (1) [51]

Elliott hasn’t struggled this offseason.

Punter: Cameron Johnston (1) [52]

Hoping to see some Year 2 improvement from Johnston in terms of directional punting.

Long snapper: Rick Lovato (1) [53]

Rick Lovato is the Eagles’ long snapper. (H/t Bo Wulf.)

PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM (PUP)

Jalen Mills

The Eagles can take Mills off the active/PUP list at any point before roster cuts take place but I’m guessing he begins the year on reserve/PUP. This means Mills will miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season before being eligible to return to the 53-man roster as soon as Week 7.

Mills is a Schwartz favorite but the Green Goblin could lose his starting job if his replacements are playing well. That wouldn’t be ideal for a player who is going to be a free agent after this year.

PRACTICE SQUAD

QB Clayton Thorson, RB Josh Adams, WR Greg Ward, WR Carlton Agudosi, OL Ryan Bates, OG Sua Opeta, DT Bruce Hector, LB T.J. Edwards, CB Jeremiah McKinnon, S Tre Sullivan