Projecting the 53-Man Roster: The Final Tune-Up

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon.We are now just a week away from the roster being trimmed down to 53, which means it’s time to get serious. This is the last tune-up before the final drafts are submitted. Sheil gave his take on Thursday.

Here’s my stab at it.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles.
Confidence level: 9

There has been a public push lately to have Trent Edwards make it over Kafka. The Eagles are going to have to take a deep breath before shaping this roster, though, and remember not to put too much stock into preseason performance. Edwards has been playing against third stringers. Kafka only threw nine passes. The plan has been to have Kafka be Vick’s backup, and now he’s off the team? Let’s save our preseason overreaction exclusively for Foles.

Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.
Confidence level: 6

I have campaigned for Polk at the expense of Brown, and you have continually slapped me down. I’m ready to relent: you can’t keep Brown off the roster. Polk hasn’t seen time at fullback yet, though Marty Mornhinweg did allow that the coaches have discussed it. He then went on to say they would bring Polk along slowly and play to his strengths at first in this hypothetical scenario. They have thought through this. I’m not sure Stanley Havili brings you that much more as a blocker. I say both rookies stay.

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Chad Hall.
Confidence level: 6

I can’t justify reserving a spot for Marvin McNutt any longer. He just hasn’t shown anything in the preseason from what I can tell. If you believe in him long term and think he’ll get snatched off the practice squad, then fine. I think you might be able to stash him at this point. Hall gives you a reliable option in the event of injury or if the Johnson punt return experiment goes awry.

Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.
Confidence level: 9

Have to give it Harbor. He’s looked good so far. I still don’t feel tremendous about the position, but this will be the duo going in.

Offensive linemen (9): King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Mike Gibson.
Confidence level: 6

With Herremans missing Thursday’s game for personal reasons, Kelly will get to run with the first team at right tackle. Pretty interested to see how he does. He and the entire reserve crew is a big question mark. Left tackle is unsettled, the starters have had their share of issues and you can’t speak about any of the backups with any great confidence. Howard Mudd has his hands full.

Defensive linemen (10): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Brandon Graham,  Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, Antonio Dixon.
Confidence level: 7

Hunt has been the best Eagles defensive end this preseason. He has played himself onto this roster. When crunching the numbers, it arguably comes down to Dixon and Darryl Tapp. Dixon is not an ideal fit for the system, but tackle is not as stacked as defensive end. With Mike Patterson shelved for the foreseeable future, you may want some insurance inside. In this projection, I have Tapp getting dealt.

Linebackers (6): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan.
Confidence level: 8

I toyed with the idea of keeping Clayton as a backup, backup plan in case the safety spot goes to hell (which is entirely possible). I am now sober, and give the nod to Jordan. Kendricks has been fantastic so far while Ryans is coming on slowly. I continue to feel good about the linebacker corps, and can’t remember the last time I said that.

Cornerbacks (6): Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Joselio Hanson, Brandon Hughes.
Confidence level: 7

There are a couple battles that remain unresolved, and it might be best to go with all six corners here. Boykin might win the nickel spot but he hasn’t yet, so Hanson should stay. And is Marsh that far ahead of Hughes for the next man in when Nnamdi Asomugha slides inside?

Cliff Harris has been very quiet since a strong start to training camp. He seems like a practice squad guy for now.

Safeties (4): Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Confidence level:7

In reality, Tom Nelson was splitting second-team reps with Jarrett for a sniff, and now he’s hurt. Jarrett apparently had a better outing against New England. The guess here is he sneaks on the roster unless Howie Roseman makes a move over the next week.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbos.
Confidence level: 7

Chas Henry is putting up a fight, but experience will likely win out.

Follow Tim on Twitter and e-mail him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com.

  • Opie

    I like the addition of Polk, I think he is the short yardage guy and should be active on game day. Byrce Brown makes the team but is an inactive on game day. Keep Havili too, and put Cooper on the pup list for the first few weeks.

    • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Tyler Phillips

      Can’t put cooper on PUP.

    • ICDogg

      I like Polk, and would love to have him on the team, but at whose expense? I think Havili showed in the NE game why the Eagles like him. And Brown looks like a brilliant pick.

  • daveH

    why does a roster spot have to go to a long snap ONLY specialist ??

    • ICDogg

      Because a good consistent long snapper is hard to find and if you don’t have one you’re toast.

  • ICDogg

    Every year we think that a lot of our guys that we drop from the final 53 will be picked up by other teams, but it’s usually just one or two if any. The other teams tend to be just as in love with their young players as the Eagles are. After a week or two reality sets in as well as injuries, and teams start looking for more players, but at that point they’re more interested in guys that can play right away.

    It’s also based on what position they play. WR’s are going to get more interest than RB’s. I think if you allow any of Marvin McNutt, Damaris Johnson, or Chad Hall on the practice squad, there is a good chance someone will take them. Possibly the Cowboys, who need some depth at receiver.

    I think on the other hand that some of the O-linemen that the Eagles have would not be in great demand should they be waived. The Eagles could probably keep them on the Practice Squad. This is because the Eagles don’t favor the super-heavyweights that a lot of teams would want, and also because most of the backup linemen that the Eagles have are not experienced anyway.

    I think it’s possible that Polk could be picked up if waived, but he seems to me like he will be a journeyman who will bounce around from team to team.

    And I think the Eagles will want to move Tapp and Dixon somewhere and try to pick up whatever draft compensation they can get.

  • http://twitter.com/BigMike317 BigMikeMcD

    That WR spot really has me nervous. 3 extra smalls (Jackson, Johnson & Hall), 2 mediums (Maclin & Avant) & an Old Navy large (Cooper-big in measurement but plays medium) + a half pint, fragile, running QB…somebody get Plax on the horn!