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Eagles 53-man roster prediction following the 2020 NFL Draft

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Early guesses about the final cut.

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

We’ve spent this week projecting the Philadelphia Eagles’ depth chart for the 2020 NFL season. We started with the offense, moved on to the defense, and then finished up with the special teams unit. Now it’s time for a prediction of who will actually make the final cut down to 53 players.

Or, well, 55 players? The new CBA tweaked the roster size limit. As explained by ESPN:

Two practice-squad players per week may be elevated to the team’s roster, meaning game-week roster sizes could effectively increase from 53 to 55. And a player elevated from the practice squad to the 55-man roster could be sent back to the practice squad two times without having to clear waivers. [...] The game-day active roster will increase from 46 to 48 players (although one of the extra players must be an offensive lineman, which will give teams more flexibility to have three extra linemen).

So, there’s still a main 53, and that’s what we’re projecting here. A projected practice squad is also included at the bottom of this post. (For fun, you can click here to see what BGN’s projected 53 looked like at this time last year.)

OFFENSE

QB: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Jalen Hurts (3) [3]

The Eagles are hoping Wentz can pick up where he left off in terms of playing great down the stretch last season. Who’s his top backup going to be, though? Is Hurts definitely locked in that spot from the jump? The Eagles thought highly enough of Hurts to take him at No. 53, yes, but the rookie isn’t going to have a normal offseason to learn the offense through practice reps. Maybe Hurts rises to the No. 2 spot as the season progresses? There’s also talk that the Eagles could use Hurts in a “Taysom Hill [package] on steroids” and/or as a “straight running back.” Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see how this situation unfolds. In a normal offseason, I’d project Hurts as the No. 2 with Sudfeld and Kyle Lauletta battling it out for the No. 3 job. Maybe the Eagles should just keep all four guys since they’re a quarterback factory?

RB: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Corey Clement, Michael Warren (4) [7]

Sanders showed star potential as a rookie. The Eagles won’t get away from rotating their running backs entirely but Sanders should be used more heavily than any other lead back in Doug Pederson’s offense since 2016. Sanders is a dynamic threat both as a ball carrier and a pass catcher. Scott (AKA Juice Lord AKA 2019 Week 17 NFC Offensive Player of the Week) showed he deserves to have a role in the offense. Clement isn’t guaranteed a roster spot but the organization was high on him prior to his injuries. The Eagles will hope their leading receiver from Super Bowl LII can stay healthy. There’s talk that the Eagles could bring in another veteran to potentially replace Jordan Howard’s departed skill-set. Maybe someone like Carlos Hyde (overlapped with Rich Scangarello in San Francisco in 2017) or Devonta Freeman? For now, I’ll project the bruising Warren to make the team. Elijah Holyfield is also in the mix. The speedy Adrian Killins is intriguing but might be more of a practice squad guy.

WR: DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Ward, John Hightower (6) [13]

No Alshon Jeffery here, I address his status later in this post. Jackson returns after missing most of the 2019 season. He had great chemistry with Wentz prior to getting hurt so hopefully he can stay healthy. It’s unclear where the Eagles will have Reagor lining up but the 2020 first-round pick needs to be on the field. The Eagles view JJAW as an X receiver so he could be the natural replacement for Jeffery’s role. Of course, the problem is that JJAW might not be any good. Goodwin isn’t a lock to make the final roster but his experience gives him a leg up on his youthful competitors. Ward gives the Eagles depth in the slot in addition to playing on special teams. Hightower could end up being the primary kick returner. Rookie draft pick Quez Watkins is on the bubble here.

TE: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Alex Ellis (3) [16]

Ertz and Goedert should stand to benefit from the Eagles adding speed at wide receiver. With the Eagles running a lot of 12 personnel, there’s sense to keeping Ellis as a third tight end. Ellis demonstrated blocking, catching, and special teams chops last summer. The Eagles even lined him up as a traditional fullback in certain situations. He’s better than Josh Perkins.

OL: Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Matt Pryor, Jordan Mailata, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig (10) [26]

Apparently it’s “only a matter of time” until the Eagles bring back Peters. He could very well be the Eagles’ best option at left tackle in 2020 but his potential return is a big indictment of Dillard and the front office. Seumalo is a fine starter at left guard. Kelce is returning for at least one more season. Brooks expects to be ready for the season despite suffering a separated shoulder injury in Week 17. Johnson is entering his eighth NFL season. Dillard isn’t even at least a true swing tackle since he can’t play the right side but he is the backup to Peters here. Pryor is the top backup guard. Mailata or Driscoll could be the top backup right tackle. Keeping Herbig might be excessive but the Eagles seemed high on his long-term outlook last year by stashing him on the roster instead of the practice squad. Besides, the new CBA requires teams to keep at least eight offensive linemen active for game day. Might as well go heavy here, no pun intended.

DEFENSE

DE: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Genard Avery (5) [31]

BLG is coming off his second highest single-season sack total. The Eagles will hope their Super Bowl LII hero has another good year in store. Barnett, who turns 24 in June, really needs to step up and have a breakout campaign. Entering the season healthier than he did last year could help him out. Curry isn’t currently on the roster but there are whispers about him coming back. Curry started out ice cold in 2019 before heating up down the stretch. Sweat is either the third or fourth defensive end in 2020. Avery probably isn’t going to be anything more than a subpackage specialist and special teams contributor. 2019 fourth-round pick Shareef Miller and 2019 training camp standout Joe Ostman are on the bubble. Casey Toohill is a practice squad or phantom IR candidate at best.

DT: Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway (4) [35]

The Eagles will hope that Cox entering this season healthy — as opposed to last year — will make a difference. Hargrave and Jackson have the potential to give the Eagles more interior pass rush juice. They can also spell Cox to keep him fresher as the season goes on. Ridgeway had some good flashes before getting hurt last year; he’s a perfectly cromulent fourth option. Anthony Rush, Bruce Hector, Albert Huggins, and Raequan Williams are battling for a fifth spot or practice squad jobs.

LB: Nathan Gerry, T.J. Edwards, Duke Riley, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley (5) [40]

Man, the Eagles sure are looking thin here. The coaching staff loves Gerry and that much is reflected how he projects to be the top linebacker. Edwards has also drawn praise from the coaches. Riley will be the third linebacker when the Eagles line up in their infrequently used base defense. Taylor has intriguing upside but he’s raw and it’s unclear how much he’ll be able to play on defense as a rookie. Bradley gives the Eagles more depth in addition to playing special teams. Jatavis Brown follows in the footsteps of Corey Nelson and L.J. Fort and Zach Brown as veteran free agent linebackers who ultimately fail to make an impact for Philly. Alex Singleton could push for a roster spot.

CB: Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sidney Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Craig James (6) [46]

Slay is the Eagles’ No. 1 corner. It’ll be interesting to see if Jim Schwartz will have him truly shadow opposing top receivers. Maddox is reportedly the early favorite to start on the outside opposite from Slay. NRC is a natural fit as the new nickel. Some are assuming Jones will start but that’s pretty bold considering he was essentially a healthy scratch (0 defensive snaps, four special teams snaps) for the team’s playoff loss. Strap could push for the starting nickel job and at least be the backup there. James was pretty good on special teams last year so he makes the cut over other options. Trevor Williams is a dark horse to watch given his starting experience in the NFL. Rasul Douglas is a prime candidate to be traded or released. I don’t see the Eagles keeping him at his $2.3 million cap number when he’s not even going to be a primary backup.

S: Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Will Parks, K’Von Wallace (4) [50]

McLeod is the free safety while Mills is poised to play more often in the box. The Eagles sure are showing a lot of confidence in the Green Goblin by assuming he can replace Malcolm Jenkins. Parks is the early favorite to be the new third safety in the old Corey Graham role. Wallace will push for snaps as a rookie but will likely be limited to playing in subpackages at most.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Jake Elliott (1) [51]

Elliott is the Eagles’ kicker.

P: Cameron Johnston (1) [52]

Johnston is the Eagles’ punter.

LS: Rick Lovato (1) [53]

Lovato is the Eagles’ long snapper.


INJURY

PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM (PUP): Alshon Jeffery, Daeshon Hall

The feeling here is that Jeffery won’t be on the team this year. Even if he is, he could start out the season on PUP as he recovers from a Lisfranc injury suffered in December. Jalen Mills suffered a similar foot injury in October 2018 and didn’t return to the field until October 2019. Perhaps Jeffery will heal quicker than expected but maybe not. Placing him on PUP would mean he’s going to miss at least six games.

Hall suffered an ACL tear on the Eagles’ 2019 regular season snap, which really sucks. He wouldn’t have been a lock to make the 2020 roster on healthy but might as well keep him around on PUP if he’s not taking up a roster spot. Maybe the Eagles can activate him late in the year if they need more pass rush depth.

INJURED RESERVE: Prince Tega Wanogho

PTW is still on the mend from a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery in January. As of early April, he said he wasn’t 100% recovered. The fact that he fell much further than expected in this year’s draft leads me to believe his status might not be a total non-issue. I’ll say the Eagles find a way to stash him on injured reserve or the non-football injury (NFI) list, depending on the severity. If healthy, PTW should be in good position to make the roster.


PRACTICE SQUAD

The new CBA expanded the practice squad from 10 players to 12. Also, the Eagles can use a special 13th practice squad spot on Australian native Matt Leo as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program. The catch is that Leo will not be eligible to be promoted to the roster in 2020 if the Eagles go this route.

12-man practice squad: QB Kyle Lauletta, RB Adrian Killins, WR Quez Watkins, WR Deontay Burnett, TE Noah Togiai, OG Sua Opeta, C Luke Juriga, DT Anthony Rush, DE Casey Toohill, LB Alex Singleton, CB Michael Jacquet, S Grayland Arnold

Bonus spot: DE Matt Leo