It’s been an interesting off season thus far, and I thought I’d take a crack at what the final roster might look like. Yes, yes, I know. There will be a million of these in the coming months, and I promise to post something different next time. One of the things I’ve noticed this year is that Howie not only had one of the most successful drafts in recent memory, but he’s quietly infused the team with a vast array of young talent moving forward. The DT and CB positions are loaded with young players that have the potential to be impactful for years. Hey, call me an optimist, but I really like what I see on the team thus far. And the concerns we initially had for our defense with the lose of Hargrave, Edwards, White, CJGJ, and Epps; have all been addressed with younger just as talented options. Well, maybe not the Linebacker position as much, but will get to that. While it may take a few games for some of the defense to find their footing, I see the team improving more so in the long run. Way to go Howie!
Now the ball is in Sirianni’s court.
1. Jalen Hurt
2. Marcus Mariota
3. Tanner McKee
Note: (Improved) Hurts and Mariota are locks for the depth chart. With Mariota an upgrade over Minshew, the battle will come down to Ian Book and Tanner McKee, with McKee having the cheaper/higher upside in the long run. I wouldn’t be surprised if the team resigns the loser of this battle to the practice squad.
4. D’Andre Swift
5. Rashaad Penny
6. Kenneth Gainwell
7. Boston Scott or Trey Sermon
Note: (Injury Concerns) Miles Sanders will be missed, but there’s no question that the team added a broader range of talent, if they (Swift/Penny) can stay healthy that is. The key will be the rotation utilized to help mitigate the mileage placed on the pieces in the backfield. I keep thinking of the Giant’s "Earth, Wind, and Fire" approach, and would expect the team to utilize something similar; drawing on the strengths of each in a way that doesn’t advertise plays. While I think Sermon is the better option long term, Scott’s impact is more immediate, and the team will save just over $1 million cutting Sermon, and then resigning him to the PS this year as a reserve in case of injury.
8. A.J. Brown
9. DeVonte Smith
10. Olamide Zaccheaus (OZ) or Quez Watkins
11. Devon Allen
12. Jadon Haselwood or Joseph Ngata
Note: (Improved) I like the addition of OZ, he’s a reliable option in the slot, and his highlights demonstrate his ability to get open, I mean wide open. Devon Allen’s speed could be put to better use and would be an improvement over Covey. I really think the team likes his speed, and that would create problems for defenses.
I believe Howie will most likely pull the trigger on cutting Watkins. Saving $2.7 million can’t be passed up when you are looking for ways within the cap to resign players like Dickerson. The battle between Haselwood or Ngata will be interesting. It would be nice to provide another tall bodied option for Hurts to target in the redzone. I think Haselwood’s experience with Hurts might help, but whoever loses I see continuing to develop on the PS.
13. Dallas Goedert
14. Jack Stoll
15. Grant Calcaterra, Dan Arnold, Tyree Jackson, Brady Russell, or Dalton Keene
Note: (Improved) It’s safe to say that DG is among the top five TEs in the league. Stats would have argued top three, if a blatant penalty hadn’t sidelined him last year. With the team’s emphasis on the run game to control things, Stoll’s spot seems almost assured. The battle will be for the third spot, with Brady Russell or Dalton Keene being the most likely options to land on the PS if they don’t make the cut. Dan Arnold seems an interesting option, but it’s safe to say that with last year’s snaps to cover down for DG’s absence, the group is only better.
16. Jordan Mailata (LT)
17. Landon Dickerson (LG/C)
18. Jason Kelce (C)
19. Tyler Steen (RG)
20. Lane Johnson (RT)
21. Cam Jurgens (C/G)
22. Jack Driscoll (T/G)
23. Sua Opeta (G/T)
24. Bret Toth (T/G) or Fred Johnson (T)
Note: (Still Sets the Bar) I think Steen or Opeta takes the RG spot. With Kelce unlikely to play during the preseason, look for Cam to continue his tutelage under Kelce for developing under Center. I think this year the team might go with 9 spots instead of the customary 10 however. This would help retain talent at the CB position. Nearly all of the backups under Stoutland are trained for filling multiple positions, and I have the utmost faith in him to prepare replacements to handle any eventuality.
25. Brandon Graham
26. Josh Sweat
27. Kentavius Street
28. Derek Barnett
Note: (Improved) Counting Reddick/Smith, we’ll have five possibly six edge rushers. I’m so glad BG has decided to remain. I say as long as production and desire to play remain; keep giving him year to year contracts. A fourth-round gem, Sweat continues to impress. Street’s versatility brings a welcomed addition, but, with our size at DT, he’d be better off helping overpower and exhaust the edges. The only question mark remains Barnett. I think the team moves on after this year. His cap impact will keep him on the roster this season, but his carless penalties and lack of consistency lead me to believe we’ve seen the best of him already. But even if I’m wrong, and he pulls off a stellar season, the money just won’t be there with some many other contracts coming down the line.
29. Fletcher Cox
30. Jordan Davis
31. Milton Williams
32. Jalen Carter
33. Moro Ojomo
Note: (Dangerous) I’m excited to see this group wreak havoc on the league this year. Cox’s career has been outstanding, and while a rotation is needed to keep him productive these days. I can’t think of a better veteran to mentor the other names on this list. I believe given Ojomo’s size and versatility, he makes the list. Which makes for a very young and talented group moving forward. One thing I can say for sure, is that teams are going to have a difficult time stopping this group’s relentless pressure up the middle.
34. Hasson Reddick
35. Nakobe Dean
36. Nicholas Morrow
37. Nolan Smith
38. Shaun Bradley
39. Ben VanSumeren
40. Patrick Johnson
Note: (Unknown) If there was one area of the field I’d be concerned about; it remains LB. Yes, yes, I know we don’t focus on the LB position. Yet I think that approach stemmed more from a time when we had gifted talent there for years so we were afforded the luxury of ignoring it. I remember when the only position we were worried about in the early 2000s was the MLB position, which repeatedly kept being exploited to beat us in the NFC Championship Game. It was infuriating!
Reddick remains amazing, but let’s face it. The team isn’t using him in a traditional linebacker role. Smith appears to be an attempt to catch lightning twice, but I feel his athletic ability would be better served as a rotational piece with Morrow and Dean. To keep things operating efficiently in the center of the field. Sorry, but if he’s got the talent we’ve seen through college highlights, why bench it. Gannon botched an opportunity to have Dean spell Edward and White during last season, so essentially Dean is playing catch up and operating on a Rookie approach to this season. Bradley and Johnson will bring added depth and ST’s impact. It’s VanSumeren that intrigues me the most, however. I feel he will be one of this year’s UDFAs to make the team, and with his athleticism, I’m curious to see what might happen.
41. Darius Slay
42. James Bradberry
43. Avonte Maddox
44. Greedy Williams or Zech Mcphearson
45. Kelee Ringo
46. Josh Jobe or Eli Ricks
Note: (Improved) I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t see Howie pulling this one off. Both Slay and Bradberry back with new contracts, amazing. I’m so glad that they decide to stay together and will get a chance to mentor a very talented group of young corners. While I am concerned about injuries, like those that hampered Maddox last year. I think the team has a very physically talented group of corners to work with. So much so, that we are going to be hard pressed to keep all of them. As I said with the Oline, I think the team might keep 6 CBs this year, and why wouldn’t they, it’s a position that teams spend years trying to get right.
47. Reed Blankenship
48. Terrell Edmunds
49. Sydney Brown
50. Mekhi Garner or Justin Evans
Note: (Hopeful) Blankenship is an improvement over Epps. He hits harder, tackles better, and isn’t afraid to lay himself out there. While he does take a few poor angles at times, I will take his ability at stopping the run. Edmunds will provide the experience this group needs to develop; while Brown will bring the determination and desire that should help him see the field. I think both K’Von Wallace and Justin Evans could be relieved. Together they would save $2.7 million against the cap and make room for developing Garner as a larger coverage safety for dealing with TEs.
51. Rick Lovato (LS)
52. Jake Elliot (K)
53. Ty Zentner (P/K)
Note: (Improved) Both Rick Lovato and Jake Elliot remain quality options at their respective positions. Yet, the team will finally provide, not only an upgrade at Punter, but also a versatile backup Kicker should an injury again hamper Elliot. I’ve always wondered why punters never cross trained to at least attempt FGs within 40 yards.
1. Ian Book or other viable option (QB): To help with practice.
2. Trey Sermon (RB): Unless a preseason injury occurs, Sermon will be on standby.
3. Jadon Haselwood or Joseph Ngata (WR): Big bodied option to continue developing.
4. Tyrie Cleveland (WR): Former PS member still under development.
5. Greg Ward (WR): Deep threat option kept in reserve.
6. Brady Russell or Dalton Keene (TE): Reserve option should injuries require.
7. Tyrese Robinson (T/G): Athletic option to develop at Stoutland U.
8. Trevor Reid (OT): Another athletic option to develop at Stoutland U.
9. Tarron Jackson or Janarius Robinson (DE): Solid option to continue developing.
10. Marion Tuipulotu or Noah Elliss (DT): Solid reserve should the needed require.
11. Kyron Johnson (LB): Reserve option should injuries require.
12. Davion Taylor (OLB): Reserve option should injuries require.
13. Josh Jobe or Eli Ricks (CB): Whichever loses roster spot.
14. Mario Goodrich (CB): Developing prospect.
15. Anthony Harris (FS): Reserve option.
16. (InterNat) Matt Leo (DE)