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Eagles 53-man roster predictions: Final preseason battles

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Who’s locked, who’s on the bubble, and how many spots are available for the taking

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As the Eagles stare down the barrel of roster cuts, the final preseason game looms large for future practice squaders or roster bubble candidates. I walked through the positions on the roster, locking those players I think have nothing to worry about this weekend, and circling those final spots that could be added to build out the Eagles’ championship roster.

Oop, sorry about that. Freudian slip.

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK: 3 [3 total]

Locked: Carson Wentz, Josh McCown, Nate Sudfeld
Bubble: None
Practice Squad: Clayton Thorson
Cut: Cody Kessler

Not much to see here. Josh McCown is guaranteed a roster spot given that he was pulled from retirement — and that Sudfeld won’t be a go in Week 1. The wrist injury that’s sidelined our favorite preseason slinger won’t last long into the regular season, so he’ll remain rostered, which pushes Cody Kessler out the door and Clayton Thorson onto the practice squad, should he clear waivers!

Lol.

RUNNING BACK: 4 [7 total]

Locked: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement
Bubble: None
Practice Squad: Boston Scott, Donnel Pumphrey, Josh Adams [3 total]
Cut: Wendell Smallwood

There isn’t nearly as much intrigue here as there might seem. Sproles is a lock by the same logic that McCown is — he didn’t come out of retirement to maybe make the team — and Corey Clement is one of the most valuable special-teamers on the team when healthy. I don’t really think he’s on the bubble, while Sanders and Howard are obviously the starting rotation.

Meanwhile, Wendell Smallwood lacks practice squad eligibility, unless he uses one of the veteran spots, while Scott, Pumphrey, and Adams all remain eligible for the PS. I think Scott is the leading candidate in that house, while Adams and Pumphrey are likely not of much interest anymore.

WIDE RECEIVER: 5 [12 total]

Locked: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins
Bubble: Greg Ward, Marken Michel [2 total]
Practice Squad: Carlton Agudosi [4 total]
Cut: DeAndre Thompkins

Folks don’t seem to think that Mack Hollins is a lock, and obviously injury has been a disappointing storyline the last year or so — but this is a core special-teamer and ex-fourth round pick with a great athletic profile. He’s gonna stick for all those reasons, let alone his ability to play inside and out as a wide receiver.

Both Ward and Michel just have enough of a shot that it’s worth claiming they’re bubble players, but it would be surprising to see either be retained given the strength and versatility of the Eagles pass-catching corps, tight end included. Agudosi is the strongest PS candidate the Eagles will have, except for maybe an offensive linemen, and may not make it through waivers.

TIGHT END: 3 [15 total]

Locked: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins
Bubble: Richard Rodgers [3 total]
Practice Squad: Alex Ellis [5 total]
Cut: Will Tye

Richard Rodgers is a fascinating and confusing player to figure out. The Eagles probably should just waive him with an injury settlement and move on with Josh Perkins as TE3, though Dallas Goedert’s return from preseason injury muddies the situation a bit. Rodgers is also an IR candidate, so may not count against the 53-man roster that way either! So I’ve left him on the bubble.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Eagles add a fourth tight end if Goedert’s health is really in question, especially given the remaining concerns with Josh Perkins’ up-and-down game. I like Ellis as a PS guy for sure.

OFFENSIVE LINE: 9 [24 total]

Locked: Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor
Bubble: Stefen Wisniewski, Nate Herbig [5 total]
Practice Squad: Brett Toth, Sua Opeta, Anthony Fabiano [8 total]
Cut: Keegan Render, Riley Mayfield

You can’t try to sneak Matt Pryor onto the practice squad — he’s too good, and it won’t work. Especially when you consider Brandon Brooks’ questionable Week 1 availability, he becomes all the more important to retain. Every other lock should be a no-brainer.

The Eagles very likely will keep a 10th offensive lineman, and it should be a Kelce backup — whether that’s Wisniewski (who can be cut and brought back for a non-guaranteed deal) or Herbig (who is not as good as Wisniewski), I’m not sure. If Herbig isn’t retained, he’s a strong PS candidate, as are Army addition Brett Toth and Weber State UDFA Sua Opeta, both of whom are plus athletes with upside.

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE END: (5) [29 total]

Locked: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall
Bubble: Shareef Miller [6 total]
Practice Squad: None
Cut: Kasim Edebali, Eli Harold

*Joe Ostman on injured reserve

The Eagles have done work trying to figure out the final EDGE spot, and it looks like the answer is already on the roster in Daeshon Hall. That said, Shareef Miller’s hardly shown rosterable skill in the preseason, and presents an issue in protection and retention: can you justify spending a 53-man roster spot to ensure he doesn’t get poached? Or are you willing to risk an almost-inevitable waiver wire add to spend the spot on someone else? Because I don’t think Miller makes it to the practice squad.

I’ve liked Kasim Edebali’s preseason film.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 5 [34 total]

Locked: Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway, Treyvon Hester
Bubble: None [6 total]
Practice Squad: Kevin Wilkins [9 total]
Cut: Aziz Shittu

I think that five defensive tackles is a relatively predictable move for a Jim Schwartz defensive line that may not have Fletcher Cox for Week 1 and always has to worry about Timmy Jernigan’s health — it’s an even easier projection when you recognize both Hester and Ridgeway are plus talent as backups. The Eagles got thin really quickly last year at DT — they don’t want to risk the same happening in 2019.

I’ve loved Kevin Wilkins’ preseason film.

LINEBACKER: 5 [39 total]

Locked: Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown, Kamu Grugier-Hill, L.J. Fort, Nate Gerry,
Bubble: T.J. Edwards [7 total]
Practice Squad: Alex Singleton [10 total]
Cut: Hayes Pullard, Chris Worley

Linebacker is a total bear to figure out — easily the toughest position. I nearly locked up T.J. Edwards, but given how infrequently the Eagles play with 3 linebackers on the field — and again, how infrequently they even play with 2 on the field! — I decided that five locks was reasonable, with a sixth spot spent on Edwards also justifiable given the injuries to Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nigel Bradham.

If Nate Gerry plays over L.J. Fort, sharpen your pitchforks.

CORNERBACK: 5 [44 total]

Locked: Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc,
Bubble: Orlando Scandrick [8 total]
Practice Squad: Sojourn Shelton, Ajene Harris [12 total]
Cut: Jeremiah McKinnon, Josh Hawkins

*Jalen Mills is on the PUP list

Cornerback, a position of depth and uncertainty in July, remains so in August. It’s easy to lock up the five “starters” for Week 1, though Darby may not be available yet, and LeBlanc is also a no-go for Week 1. That leaves only three healthy corners, should Scandrick not be retained — so, by a similar logic to Edwards, he’s on the bubble, to be cut when Jalen Mills hops off IR.

The Eagles have practice squad eligibility for any of their young CBs, so really this whole list could go there — but both Jeremiah McKinnon and Josh Hawkins have floundered in the preseason, and don’t seem like interesting developmental candidates to me.

SAFETY: 3 [47 total]

Locked: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo,
Bubble: Johnathan Cyprien, Rudy Ford [10 total]
Practice Squad: Trae Elston, Jason Thompson [14 total]
Cut: Deiondre’ Hall

The battle here between Johnathan Cyprien and Rudy Ford comes down to this: do you want a proven special-teamer with at least some development potential who you recently acquired...or the veteran player who wasn’t playing well enough to deter the acquisition of the young guy. It seems clear to me that the Eagles prefer Ford to Cyprien, but not enough that I’m willing to lock him in. Safety 4 will be filled on this team next week, however.

Total Count

Locked: 50 (47 on offense/defense, plus 3 STers)
Bubble: 10
Practice Squad: 15

Predictions

I’d expect the last three spots to be filled as follows: TE4, SAF4, and LB6 — and again, my projections there are Richard Rodgers/waiver addition, Rudy Ford, and T.J. Edwards.

Making practice squad predictions is a bit trickier, as the players have to pass through waivers, and the Eagles may target a player cut by another squad. But my order of priority for players would be:

  • Carlton Agudosi
  • Sua Opeta
  • Brett Toth
  • Nate Herbig
  • Kevin Wilkins
  • Clayton Thorson
  • Alex Singleton
  • Boston Scott
  • Sojourn Shelton