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Eagles 53-man roster prediction after five days of training camp practice

Who will make the final cut?

Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp Photo by Heather Khalifa-Pool/Getty Images

Now that I’ve seen five days of Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice, it’s the perfect time for an updated 53-man roster prediction. Yeah, it’s a small sample size, but cut down day (Saturday, September 5) is less than two weeks away. Read on to see how I see the team shaping up. And keep in mind I’ll be doing another updated version after the next five days of camp. [Click here for a link to the pre-training camp version .]

OFFENSE

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

Safe to say Wentz is the starter. Friday’s practice backed up Doug Pederson’s assertion that Sudfeld is currently the No. 2. Suds took a lot of reps and even worked with the first team unit at one point while Hurts barely appeared. With that said, the rookie quarterback has been impressive and it feels like it’s only a matter of time until he surpasses Sudfeld on the depth chart. Sudfeld’s operating on a short leash.

RUNNING BACK: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Corey Clement, Elijah Holyfield (4) [7]

Sanders is expected to be ready for Week 1 while the Eagles rest him due to a lower body injury. Scott is also expected to return after missing multiple practices so far. Clement has broken off a few big runs and has looked good catching the ball. The Super Bowl LII feels like a lock to make the roster. Holyfield has been the second running back up behind Clement with Sanders and Scott missing time. The feeling here is that Evander’s son has an edge over undrafted rookie free agents Michael Warren and Adrian Killins. I know the latter is a fan favorite due to his speed but I don’t think he’s ready to see meaningful NFL playing time. I wouldn’t rule out the Eagles adding a veteran like Devonta Freeman if Sanders had to miss serious time but for now they’ll be sticking with the young guys.

WIDE RECEIVER: DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, Quez Watkins (6) [13]

Jackson looks great as ever. JJAW is lining up as the first team X receiver and he’s showing some signs of life. Ward figures to be the Eagles’ starting slot receiver. Reagor was taking first team X reps with JJAW out and has still been rotating in with the starters even with JJAW back; the 2020 first-round pick is going to have some kind of instant role. Fellow rookies Hightower and Watkins have both shown encouraging signs in practice. Then again, the Eagles’ receiver position was so abysmal last year that they have a low bar to clear. Deontay Burnett could make the Eagles think about keeping seven here but the practice squad is the more likely bet for him. I also have Robert Davis making the practice squad (scroll down to the bottom of this post) since the Eagles could afford to have another bigger bodied receiver.

TIGHT END: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins (3) [16]

Ertz and Goedert are both banged up right now but are expected to be ready for Week 1. The Eagles can and should do better than Perkins as their third tight end but they seem to like him. Noah Togiai and Caleb Wilson might be able to beat him out? The former got hurt in practice on Friday.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Andre Dillard, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll, Prince Tega Wanogho, Luke Juriga (10) [26]

Dillard has much to prove as the team’s starting left tackle. Injury and workload management has caused Peters to miss some of the very limited reps he’ll get to transition from left tackle to right guard. That’s a concern. Pryor is going to have to be ready to fill in on short notice with Peters inevitably bound to miss some time. Herbig was getting first team reps in practice last week with Kelce and Peters out. Herbig has also been used as a sixth offensive lineman. Driscoll has earned praise from both Pederson and Brandon Graham. PTW is further along than Jordan Mailata, whose time might finally be up in Philly. The Eagles gave Juriga the most guaranteed money out of their 13 undrafted rookie free agent signings. Players in previous years to fit that description made the roster (see: Herbig, Edwards, Josh Adams).

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE END: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Vinny Curry, Joe Ostman (5) [31]

It’s disappointing to see that Barnett will miss most — if not the entirety — of this year’s training camp practices. The team needs him to get healthy and have a breakout season. It remains to be seen if Sweat can handle being a full-time starter but he’s looking like a good rotational piece off the bench. Curry is back after producing down the stretch in 2019. The fifth (and maybe sixth?) defensive end spot is up for grabs between Ostman, Casey Toohill, Shareef Miller, and Genard Avery. I just haven’t seen anything from Avery to make me believe he deserves a roster spot. Each of the first three guys have a stronger case.

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

Hargrave reportedly has “a realistic shot” to play in Week 1 after suffering a pectoral strain. If he’s more injured than we’re led to believe (luckily that never happens with the Eagles), the team might need to keep five guys here. Jackson looks healthy; he was very disruptive in Friday’s practice. Ridgeway has had a strong camp and clearly deserves to be the fourth guy. Anthony Rush and/or Raequan Williams will probably have to settle for making the practice squad. It’s possible the Eagles could look to trade one of those guys like they did with Bruce Hector last summer.

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

Gerry is on track to lead all linebackers in playing time this season. It’s an important year for him with his contract about to expire. Edwards is going to have an opportunity for more playing time after excelling as a run defender in 2019. Riley has been the third linebacker when the Eagles go to their base defense and he’s also rotated with Edwards alongside Gerry. Bradley seems further along than fellow rookie Taylor; the Temple alumnus has made a number of notable plays in practice thus far. Taylor will likely be limited to special teams contributions in 2020. Alex Singleton is on the bubble.

CORNERBACK: Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Sidney Jones (5) [45]

Slay hasn’t flashed a ton in camp but it’s too early to seriously worry about that. Maddox has taken 100% of the starting corner reps across from Slay so it’s safe to say that’s his job. NRC is bound to be the starting slot. Strap always makes plays when he’s on the field so the Eagles should probably find a way to work him in. I was very tempted to leave off Jones, who is hurt again, and keep Craig James over him. The latter is a much better special teams player and that matters for bottom of the roster guys. Rasul Douglas might hold more value to the Eagles in trade return than he does on their roster. Five corners might be too thin here but it’s what I had to do to make the numbers work.

SAFETY: Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Will Parks, K’Von Wallace, Grayland Arnold (5) [50]

McLeod and Mills are locked in as the primary starters. Early returns on The Green Goblin switching from cornerback to safety are positive. Parks appears locked in to the third safety role. The Philly native could be a nice defensive role player and special teams contributor. Wallace has made some plays and might find a way to get defensive snaps but he’s definitely behind the previous three veterans. I could see the Eagles not wanting to risk losing Arnold, who has shown some potential. The Eagles could afford to keep a developmental safety around with Mills and Parks not under contract for 2021. Elijah Riley, Marcus Epps, and Rudy Ford are in practice squad consideration.

SPECIAL TEAMS

KICKER: Jake Elliott (1) [51]

Haven’t noticed any misses in camp.

PUNTER: Cameron Johnston (1) [52]

My BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski timed Johnston’s hangtime the other day (what a nerd) and he said it was good. Cool.

LONG SNAPPER: Rick Lovato (1) [53]

Lovato is the Eagles’ Pro Bowl long snapper.


INJURY

PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM (PUP): Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Brooks

There’s been no update on Jeffery’s status, which leads me to believe he’ll begin the season on PUP and miss at least the first six weeks. The Eagles could place him on injured reserve and activate him after only three games if they believe he can come back sooner. But if the Eagles’ offense is clicking without Jeffery and the young receivers are looking good, what’s the rush to rush him back?

Interestingly enough, Lane Johnson said he could see Brooks returning to the field before the 2020 season is over. I’m not one to doubt Brooks but it’s tough to merely rely on such a recovery happening. Brooks wouldn’t be ready to return until late in December or in the playoffs at the very earliest.


But wait, isn’t there a 55-man roster this year?

Yes and no. There’s still a main 53. More details:

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).


PRACTICE SQUAD

Practice squad capacity is now 16 players instead of 10. Unlike before, teams can keep up to six players with no limits on NFL experience. Note that teams can block four practice squad players from being poached on a weekly basis at 4:00 PM ET before a game week.

16-player practice squad: QB Kyle Lauletta, RB Adrian Killins, WR Deontay Burnett, WR Robert Davis, TE Noah Togiai, OT Jordan Mailata, OG Sua Opeta, DE Genard Avery, DE Casey Toohill, DT Anthony Rush, DT Raequan Williams, LB Alex Singleton, LB Dante Olson, CB Craig James, CB Michael Jacquet, S Elijah Riley

Exemption: DE Matt Leo