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Eagles 53-man roster projection after the first preseason game

Updated prediction.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Now that we’re through two weeks of Eagles training camp and Philadelphia’s first preseason game, it’s the perfect time for an updated 53-man roster projection. Read on to see how the team is shaping up. [Click here for a link to our previous version.]

OFFENSE

QB: Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco (2) [2]

Hurts had a solid showing against the Steelers; it was a performance to build on. Let’s see if he can keep the positive momentum going. Whether he does or not, he’s obviously going to be the Week 1 starter. Flacco has already cemented himself as the No. 2 quarterback. There’s no need to keep Nick Mullens on the roster. He needs to rebound to prove he deserves a practice squad spot.

RB: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Jordan Howard, Jason Huntley, Kenny Gainwell (5) [7]

The Eagles holding Sanders out on Thursday reinforces the idea that the Eagles plan to really ride him this year. Which, good! Scott has been the clear No. 2 based on practice rep distribution. Interestingly, Howard is listed as the second running back on the Eagles’ public depth chart (which, for full disclosure, is assembled by the team’s PR staff). Howard played early on Thursday and was on the first team kickoff coverage unit. I don’t think he should be kept on the roster because, like, who’s really coming after him if you let him go? Can’t you get him on the practice squad? But it looks like he might stick. I don’t see why the Eagles would keep Huntley on their roster all season last year and watch him flash this offseason just to risk losing him on waivers. Besides, he’s their best kick returner option. The Eagles are also not letting Gainwell go after he’s shown some potential. This leaves Kerryon Johnson as the odd man out in a numbers crunch.

WR: DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward (5) [12]

Smith is going to be really good when he gets back from injury; just you wait. Watkins can’t not start after being the best Eagles wide receiver this summer. The Eagles clearly want Reagor in the starting lineup despite his inconsistencies. Fulgham is the Eagles’ most prototypical X receiver and could at least see rotational playing time if he’s not starting. Ward gives the Eagles depth in the slot and could also be a rotational player. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside might very well make it as the No. 6 option. He did have a nice special teams tackle on kickoff coverage, which is important for a back of the roster player. If the Eagles are prioritizing building the best 53-man roster for this season, Andre Patton might actually sneak on the team.

TE: Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers, Tyree Jackson (3) [15]

My theory about Zach Ertz is that the Eagles told him the only way they can move him is if he comes to camp and plays well. This summer is all about rehabbing his value. Maybe they’ll just keep him around but it doesn’t really make sense as a long-term decision. Besides, it’s time to see Dallas Goedert as TE1. Dick Rod is a cromulent option as a TE2 or TE3 since he’s a capable receiver and plays a lot on special teams. There’s no way the Eagles should look to risk losing Jackson on waivers; he needs to make this team. Even if he doesn’t contribute much in 2021, he looks like he could be a future TE1 or TE2.

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

The starters are locked in. It was good to see Brooks get some action on Thursday for the first time since December 2019. The backup situation isn’t as clear. The feeling here is that Dillard hasn’t done enough to earn his spot on the roster. The Eagles might look to carry him through the cut down to 53 and place him on injured reserve depending on the severity of his injury. Herbig was originally the top interior backup at guard but the Eagles have recently been working him as the second team center. Driscoll is the top backup at right tackle and is also getting right guard looks. Opeta has been working as the first team left guard with Seumalo out and Herbig getting more center work. Toth is currently the top backup left tackle with Dillard hurt. Luke Juriga is a tough cut here. The Eagles would probably like to keep Kayode Awosika, who interestingly saw snaps at right tackle against Pittsburgh, on the roster in a perfect world. Instead, it seems like they might be trying to hide him to get him on the practice squad.

DEFENSE

DE: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Tarron Jackson (5) [30]

Barnett got the start over Sweat on Thursday night. That’s not necessarily super meaningful since they’ll both probably play a lot. Kerrigan is on the mend from a thumb surgery but should be back in a week or so. Jackson has shown enough for the Eagles to keep him on the roster.

DT: Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Milton Williams (3) [33]

Only three defensive tackles? It looks light, I know. Especially since Williams is also playing defensive end. It’s just a tricky spot. The Eagles might just have to keep T.Y. McGill around with how he keeps making plays. But the approach might be to hope he’s still available after Week 1 so they don’t have to worry about guaranteeing his 2021 salary as a vested veteran. Hassan Ridgeway is also in a similar boat, though he’s been outplayed by McGill. The Eagles could also look to re-sign McGill and/or Ridgeway (and/or someone like Dick Rod) after carrying some injured players (Dillard, Wallace) on the original 53 and then clearing spot(s) by putting them on IR. Marlon Tuipulotu hasn’t done anything to suggest he deserves a roster spot; he looks destined for the practice squad at best.

LB: Eric Wison, Alex Singleton, Davion Taylor, T.J. Edwards, Genard Avery, JaCoby Stevens (6) [39]

Wilson is clearly LB1 based on how the Eagles got him out with the rest of the most important defensive starters. Singleton is still a tackling machine out there; he’s primed to be LB2. The coaching staff reportedly likes Taylor but his stock is down since he’s dealing with an injury. Edwards is a solid depth/role player who helps out on special teams. Avery doesn’t deserve a spot on the roster; he’s been injured and he hasn’t really flashed. But it seems like Jonathan Gannon wants to keep one of Avery, Joe Ostman, or Patrick Johnson around as that pass rushing linebacker. We’ll see if that’s truly the case. Stevens is dealing with an injury but he’s shown some potential and seems like someone the Eagles want to keep around. Shaun Bradley should/could make it here instead of Avery but might be on the outside looking in.

CB: Darius Slay, Steve Nelson, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Josiah Scott, Craig James (6) [45]

Slay and Nelson are locked in as the outside starters with Maddox manning the slot. After that, ZMP looks poised to be the top backup on the outside. Do the Eagles keep Scott as the top nickel backup? He’s showed some nice things but he’s on the bubble. James, who is currently injured, might not be a lock but he does have a track record of playing well on special teams.

S: Rodney McLeod, Anthony Harris, K’Von Wallace, Marcus Epps, Elijah Riley (5) [50]

It’s unclear if McLeod will truly be ready for Week 1 but the guess here is he at least avoids starting the season on reserve/PUP. Wallace’s injury makes it questionable if he’ll be ready to play early on. As such, the Eagles might very well need to keep five safeties. Epps figures to be the short-term starter next to Harris. Unless it’s possible that Riley leapfrogs him on the depth chart. At the very least, the Army alumnus is making his case for the Eagles to keep him as a backup option and special teams contributor.


SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Jake Elliott (1) [51]

Elliott is 18/20 on all kicks this summer. He rebounded after a shaky start.

P: Arryn Siposs (1) [52]

Siposs looked good in his first NFL game. I don’t think the Eagles will be looking hard to replace him.

LS: Rick Lovato (1) [53]

Lovato is the Eagles’ long snapper.


INJURY

PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM (PUP): Le’Raven Clark

Clark suffered an Achilles injury in Week 13 last year. He seems like a good bet to begin the season on reserve/PUP, thus requiring him to miss at least the first six games. He can eventually provide the Eagles with more tackle depth.

NON-FOOTBALL INJURY (NFI): Landon Dickerson

For all intents and purposes, the NFI list acts similarly to the PUP list. The Eagles might want to take it slow with Dickerson given his extensive injury history. He seemingly has a better chance of being active for Week 1 than Clark does but it’s unclear.


PRACTICE SQUAD

QB (Placeholder), RB Kerryon Johnson, WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR Jhamon Ausbon, TE Jack Stoll, OT Casey Tucker, OG Kayode Awosika, C Luke Juriga, DT Marlon Tuipulotu, DT T.Y. McGill, LB Shaun Bradley, LB Joe Ostman, LB Patrick Johnson, CB Michael Jacquet III, S Andrew Adams, S Grayland Arnold

Exemption: DE Matt Leo


ROSTER CUT DATES

Tuesday, August 17 — Cut down from 90 to 85 players

Tuesday, August 24 — Cut down from 85 to 80 players

Tuesday, August 31 — Cut down from 80 to 53 players