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Eagles 53-man roster prediction following the 2021 NFL Draft

Here’s what this year’s team might look like.

Washington Football Team v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

We’ve spent the past few days projecting the Philadelphia Eagles’ depth chart for the 2021 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. 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: Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco, Jamie Newman (3) [3]

2021 marks an opportunity for Hurts to establish himself as the Eagles’ long-term starting quarterback. If he’s anything less than convincing, the team could quickly look to pviot. It’ll be interesting to see what he has in store for Year 2. It will not be fun to watch Flacco if he has to play at any point. Newman might be able to stick on the practice squad but the Eagles might not want to risk losing their new developmental project.

RB: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell, Kerryon Johnson (4) [7]

We know the Eagles can count on Sanders as a home-run threat. Can he improve upon last year’s struggles in the passing game? There’s reason to believe he can since he showed promise as a rookie. Need to see it, though. Scott might not be a lock, though he’s shown himself to be a capable rotational running back. Gainwell has the potential to be a valuable role player and might be used like the Colts used Nyheim Hines in Nick Sirianni’s offense. There’s a lot of competition for the backup running back spots but we’ll give the final nod to the recently acquired Johnson, whose pass protection skills have been lauded. Jordan Howard is left on the outside looking in.

WR: DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, Quez Watkins, Trevon Grimes (6) [13]

The Eagles need an immediate impact from Smith. The Slim Reaper could very well terrorize defenses from Day 1. Smith’s addition might take some pressure off Reagor, who really needs to step up in his sophomore season. Ward might be the starter in the slot, which isn’t the end of the world, but it’s not ideal. He just lacks the juice as any kind of dynamic threat. Fulgham is a big X-factor at this position. Can he regain his form from when he led the NFL in receiving during a four-week stretch and be a legitimate starting X receiver? Or is he just a backup? Watkins, still only 22, showed some promise late last year and could progress under a new coaching staff. Grimes was a nice UDFA pickup. He has the chance to push for a roster spot if he can contribute on special teams in addition to showing some offensive potential. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and John Hightower are contenders to make the roster but it’s hard to feel overly optimistic about them.

TE: Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers (2) [15]

Still don’t think Zach Ertz is going to be on this year’s team. Dallas Goedert will be the primary guy at tight end. He might flourish with more of a featured role, though we’ll see how he handles being a volume target. Dick Rod isn’t currently on the roster but the Eagles are notably keeping his No. 85 jersey number available. Rodgers was solid last year. The Eagles could look to have a third but no one on the roster currently jumps out as a “must keep.” They might be able to get away with keeping one or two on the practice squad. Tyree Jackson and Hakeem Butler are developmental projects.

OL: Jordan Mailata, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Landon Dickerson, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Brett Toth (10) [25]

Mailata should be the starting left tackle after showing promise in 2020. Seumalo is the starting left guard ... unless he unexpectedly loses out to Dickerson? Kelce might be playing his final NFL season. Can Brooks stay healthy and effective at right guard after suffering three major injuries since January 2019? Johnson is also coming off a major ankle injury. Dillard’s value as a backup is limited since he can only play left tackle; the Eagles can feasibly trade him after June 1. Dickerson could be the top backup at both guard spots and center. Driscoll figures to be Johnson’s top backup at right tackle. Herbig showed some promise last year and now has extensive playing experience under his belt; he’s a good interior backup to have around. The Eagles made an effort to reacquire Toth and stash him on the bottom of the roster last year. It seems like they like his potential. Keeping 10 linemen might seem overboard but is it really when we just saw the Eagles use a billion combinations in 2020? Could be smart to hedge against multiple blockers coming off significant injuries.

DEFENSE

DE: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Tarron Jackson (4) [29]

We all know what to expect from Graham by now. Barnett is FINALLY entering a season healthy for the first time since his rookie year. The pressure is on the 2017 first-round pick to really produce as he enters a contract year. Can he be a difference-maker or is he just an unspectacular starter? Sweat was a bit hot and cold in 2020; it’d be nice to see more consistency in 2021. There’s a dropoff after the Eagles’ top three defensive ends. Jackson gets the nod here but there’s no guarantee the sixth-round rookie makes the roster. Maybe it’s Genard Avery (who was said to be moving to linebacker but is still listed at defensive end) or Joe Ostman instead? Does Patrick Johnson enter the conversation at edge rusher despite being listed at linebacker? More questions than answers when it comes to the depth at this spot.

DT: Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Hassan Ridgeway, Marlon Tuipulotu, Milton Williams (5) [34]

Cox and Hargrave are the sure-fire starters. Who is the top backup? Ridgeway’s experience could give him the edge but he just hasn't been able to stay healthy (32 missed games over the last four seasons). Tuipulotu might be more game-ready than fellow rookie Williams despite being drafted later.

LB: Alex Singleton, Eric Wilson, Shaun Bradley, T.J. Edwards, Davion Taylor, Patrick Johnson (6) [40]

Singleton seems like the favorite to start in the middle and wear the green dot. Wilson’s coverage abilities should help him see playing time. Bradley could be an under-the-radar player to watch in terms of taking a step forward. Edwards contributes on special teams and gives the Eagles depth behind Singleton. Taylor’s athleticism is intriguing but will he ever materialize into an actual football player? Patrick Johnson and JaCoby Stevens are listed as linebackers but could need time to transition to the position. I’ll keep one of the two for now.

CB: Darius Slay, Gareon Conley, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Craig James, Michael Jacquet (6) [46]

We know Slay is CB1. We do not know who CB2 is. It feels like the Eagles could still sign or trade for someone at that spot. I’m projecting they’ll sign Gareon Conley, who is still inexplicably available. Conley missed 2020 due to injury but he’s still only 25 years old and was once reportedly in play for the Eagles’ No. 14 pick in 2017. Maddox could be the starter in the slot. If the Eagles don’t acquire another veteran, McPhearson might be the man across from Slay by default. No pressure, rook! James makes the team as a good special teams contributor who can provide depth on the outside. Jacquet struggled last year, yeah, but he did show some flashes of promise.

S: Anthony Harris, Marcus Epps, K’Von Wallace, Andrew Adams (4) [50]

Harris is going to start. It’s not clear who else will. Maybe it’s Wallace who gets the nod. Epps played more than him last year, though, and looked better. Ideally, Adams won’t make the team because he’ll get beat out by the younger Grayland Arnold and/or Elijah Riley.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Jake Elliott (1) [51]

Would be nice to see Elliott have a strong summer.

P: Arryn Siposs (1) [52]

Still possible that the Eagles bring in competition at this spot. Even if they do, there’s reason to believe Siposs can win the job.

LS: Rick Lovato (1) [53]

Lovato? He’s the Eagles long snapper.


INJURY

PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM (PUP): Rodney McLeod

McLeod suffered his second career ACL tear in mid-December. He might not be ready for Week 1. The Eagles could look to play it safe by having him miss the first six weeks of the season.


PRACTICE SQUAD

The Eagles will be allowed to keep at least 12 players on their practice squad. They can keep up to 16 if COVID-19 protocols remain in place for the 2021 season. We’re going to assume the NFL goes with the latter limit for this exercise.

RB Jordan Howard, RB Jason Huntley, WR John Hightower, WR Khalil Tate, TE Tyree Jackson, TE Jack Stoll, OG Kayode Awosika, C Luke Juriga, DE JaQuan Bailey, LB Joe Bachie, LB JaCoby Stevens, LB Rashad Smith, CB Jameson Houston, CB Lavert Hill, S Grayland Arnold, S Elijah Riley