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Eagles 53-man roster prediction after three preseason games

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Who’s going to make the final cut?

NFL: Preseason-Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles have been through 18 training camp practices and three preseason games this summer. We’ve learned a lot about the team in that span. 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 version. Keep in mind I do one of these predictions every week leading up to final roster cuts. [CLICK HERE for a link to last week’s post.]

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Carson Wentz, Josh McCown, Nate Sudfeld (3) [3]

McCown should be Wentz’s primary backup in 2019. The 40-year-old has much more experience than Sudfeld and he looked good against the Ravens. McCown’s presence will allow Sudfeld to take his time recovering from his wrist injury. The Eagles should be able to count on Clayton Thorson passing through waivers and signing with their practice squad. Cody Kessler should be cut yesterday.

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

The Eagles are going to find it hard to not give Sanders touches if he continues to impress. The other three running backs will still be part of the rotation, though. Clement looks healthy and good; he’s a lock to make the team. Do the Eagles keep five running backs? I hope not because that would be a waste of a roster spot but I can’t shake what Dave Spadaro said about Wendell Smallwood:

Curiously enough, Smallwood didn’t play against the Ravens. Is that because the Eagles didn’t want him to get hurt because they think they can trade him? Or because they want to keep him healthy because they’re keeping him on the roster? Or is it because they didn’t need to see him since they already know what he offers? It’s unclear. But Smallwood doesn’t belong on the roster.

Wide receiver: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins (5) [12]

The top four guys are locked in. The question is about what happens after that. I’d bet on Hollins making the team. He’s been outplayed offensively but he is a special teams contributor and that matters for a fifth or sixth receiver. Those guys aren’t going to be playing on offense as much as they’ll be contributing on special teams. I’ll also note that the Eagles’ official website has been bullish on Hollins’ chances of making the team. It wouldn’t be crazy to see the Eagles keep Greg Ward as a sixth receiver. He’s had a nice summer. But I think the team can get him through waivers to their practice squad. Is Ward really so special that the Eagles MUST keep him? Is he that much better than a Paul Turner of the past? Marken Michel’s stock is down a bit after logging zero catches against the Ravens and getting penalized on special teams.

Tight end: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Joshua Perkins (3) [15]

Richard Rodgers is hurt for “multiple weeks” so the Eagles aren’t going to be able to count on him. I don’t think Perkins has done a lot to really earn his spot as the team’s third tight end; he’s in the lead here by default. The Eagles could look to keep Alex Ellis over Perkins. Or they could claim a tight end off waivers. Or they could make a low-cost trade. Whatever the case, the Eagles need to find a respectable No. 3 behind Ertz and Goedert.

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

Brooks might not be ready to play Week 1 so it could be Big V starting at right guard. If not, Big V figures to be the top backup at left guard, right guard, and right tackle. Dillard is the top backup at left tackle. Mailata and Pryor stick around as development projects. The Eagles are clearly giving Herbig a shot to make the team by promoting him to second team center. Stefen Wisniewski probably isn’t making this roster. He’s had a bad offseason and the Eagles can clear $1.58 million by cutting him or $1.83 million by trading him. No need to be paying that much for an aging, struggling backup guard who offers no versatility to play center. Sua Opeta and Brett Toth on the practice squad make 12 total offensive linemen for practice. That’s a lot but, hey, this team prioritizes building in the trenches and it’s not a bad idea to give Jeff Stoutland some developmental projects to work with.

DEFENSE

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

Hall has clearly outperformed Sweat this summer. He should be the Eagles’ fourth defensive end. Sweat is the fifth guy. I’m cheating by having the Eagles putting Shareef Miller on injured reserve with a stubbed toe. Miller could benefit from having a year to train in an NFL program.

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

Cox is a really tough dude and I wouldn’t bet against him playing Week 1. With that said, he’s still not practicing with the team just yet. It would behoove the Eagles, then, to go a little heavier at this position. The Eagles have a lot of talent and depth at defensive tackle.

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

It’s unclear if Bradham will be ready for Week 1; he recently said he’s not close to practicing in 11-on-11. Hopefully he is ready because otherwise the Eagles will be without their two primary starting linebackers to begin the season with Grugier-Hill also recovering. The Eagles could be counting on the likes of Brown, Gerry, and Fort to step up early in the year. T.J. Edwards or Alex Singleton might be able to sneak on to the roster, especially if Bradham isn’t going to be ready and the Eagles need more linebacker bodies. For now, I have those two guys sticking on the practice squad.

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

Darby seems like he’s potentially on pace to start Week 1. The Eagles have been rotating the starting cornerback opposite of him in practice so it could be either Douglas or Jones who plays at that spot. Maddox is bound to be the team’s nickel corner and could take some outside snaps as well. Scandrick isn’t necessarily a lock to make the Week 1 roster but for now I’ll keep him since he’s versatile and experienced and Darby might not be 100%. The Eagles could place LeBlanc on injured reserve after keeping on the 53-man roster for a few days (Tuesday after cuts) so that Strap can be eligible to be activated off IR after Week 8. I have Jalen Mills beginning the season on PUP (scroll down).

Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Johnathan Cyprien (4) [50]

McLeod looked healthy and good in the Ravens game so he should be on pace to start Week 1. Sendejo is locked in as a third safety but no one has really seized the fourth safety spot. Cyprien seems like the winner by default. Maybe the Eagles end up keeping recent trade acquisition Rudy Ford around? Or they try to add a safety off waivers or through a trade?

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: Jake Elliott (1) [51]

Elliot is the Eagles’ kicker despite missing two field goals in the 40-yard range this summer.

Punter: Cameron Johnston (1) [52]

Johnston is the Eagles’ punter.

Long snapper: Rick Lovato (1) [53]

Lovato is the Eagles’ long snapper.

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. In that case, Mills would be required to miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season before being eligible to return to the 53-man roster no sooner than Week 7.

PRACTICE SQUAD

QB Clayton Thorson, RB Josh Adams, WR Greg Ward, [some tight end], OG Sua Opeta, OT Brett Toth, LB T.J. Edwards, LB Alex Singleton, [some cornerback], S Tre Sullivan