Kapadia: Final 53-Man Roster Projection
If you missed T-Mac’s projection, click here.
Here’s what I’ve got.
Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley.
Not a whole lot to add here. These three are locks. Vick starts, Foles backs him up, Barkley spends his rookie season on the sideline.
Some have asked about Dennis Dixon’s practice-squad eligibility. As Sam Lynch points out over at IgglesBlitz.com, that’s still an option and one that the Eagles very well could explore.
Running backs (3): LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.
This is the strength of the football team. Given the tempo of the offense and the amount that Kelly is going to run the ball, expect all three to see action on gamedays. The pecking order is obviously McCoy, Brown, Polk. McCoy is set for a monster season, Brown has shown big-time talent if he can hold on to the ball, and Polk looks much-improved from the player we saw a year ago.
Matthew Tucker doesn’t make it. He hasn’t done enough to warrant a roster spot, and there’s really no need to keep a fourth running back. Tucker is another guy who could be a practice-squad option.
Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Greg Salas, Russell Shepard.
The first four are locks. Salas and Shepard are squarely on the bubble. The offensive line was a mess last night, so we didn’t get a good chance to see either do much.
Shepard could be a practice-squad option, but I think the Eagles really see value and upside with him. And if Kelly is committed to letting on-field play determine roster decisions, Salas has done enough to earn a spot.
Tight ends (4): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Clay Harbor.
The top three are easy. Harbor is the bubble guy. All offseason, Kelly has tried him out at different spots. In the spring, it was outside linebacker. In the summer, it has been wide receiver.
Harbor could very well be let go, and I even think the Eagles could look for a tight end who gets cut from another team. But given that Casey suffered a hamstring injury last night (severity unknown), Harbor’s versatility earns him a spot for now.
Offensive linemen (10): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde, Matt Tobin, Michael Bamiro.
I feel confident about the starters and Barbre. After that? It gets a bit cloudy.
Let’s start with the guy you don’t see listed: Danny Watkins. He can only play one position and hasn’t shown he can even perform at a high level at guard. Watkins turns 29 in November. He’s no longer a developmental guy, and he’s not someone you can count on. For those reasons, I think the Eagles cut ties with the former first-round pick.
As for the other backups, Barbre can play guard or tackle and has had a solid summer. Kelly had back surgery, but has value as a backup tackle. Vandervelde looks like he won the backup center job. And there’s Tobin and Bamiro.
Tobin has had a solid summer and can play guard or tackle. He’s 6-6, 303 and only 23-years-old. Seems like the type of player you can develop.
And really, the same goes for Bamiro (6-8, 340, 22). Year 1 is about roster-building, not filling immediate holes. I don’t think the Eagles want to give up on Bamiro’s potential. They have Barbre and Kelly on the roster. Plus, Herremans can slip outside to tackle in a pinch. In other words, Bamiro doesn’t really need to be counted on to play right away.
So I’ve got the Eagles keeping 10 linemen for now.
Defensive linemen (7): Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Damion Square, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers.
If I told you I had a read on Curry, I’d be lying. He’s one of those guys where anything seems to be in play. He could be playing big snaps Week 1 vs. Washington. He could be off the roster. I really just don’t know. Curry has had an outstanding preseason, but he has not been moved up the depth chart, and Kelly has been lukewarm when asked about him.
It’s obviously too early to tell, but Logan looks like a player. Square and Geathers are the bubble guys. The Eagles pretty much have to keep at least six linemen, so one of them will make it. And both have a chance.
Outside linebackers (4): Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Chris McCoy.
McCoy was on the bubble and turned in an excellent performance in the preseason finale. Hate to sound like a broken record, but the Eagles could look for an outside linebacker from another team, so I don’t think McCoy is completely safe.
Everette Brown, Adrian Robinson and Travis Long don’t make it.
Inside linebackers (4): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jake Knott, Emmanuel Acho.
If the coaching staff went into the preseason finale considering either Acho or Casey Matthews for the final spot, they should have a pretty easy decision. Acho had 11 tackles (7 solo, 1 TFL), a sack, a QB hit and a forced fumble. Not really much else he could have done.
Matthews still has a shot, possibly in addition to Acho. The problem is he’s never shown to be a capable replacement on defense, even though Matthews had 14 special-teams tackles last year.
For now, Acho gets the nod, along with Knott, the undrafted free agent.
Cornerbacks (4): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Jordan Poyer.
Only going with four for now, but I fully expect the Eagles to add a corner (or two?) from another team. It seems that Patrick Chung is their backup nickel, so that changes the depth outlook a little bit.
Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes are both injured. Neither seems like a long-term answer. And while the Eagles haven’t provided details, it doesn’t sound like either will be available early in the season.
Poyer seems to have some versatility (inside/outside) and can contribute on special teams. He sticks for now.
Safeties (5): Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson, Kurt Coleman.
I’ve got five here, but if you want a surprise cut, it could be Allen. He’s been given every opportunity to win the job and hasn’t stepped up. He’s not physical enough to be a factor in the run game, and he’s struggled in coverage too. At some point, the franchise may end up deciding it’s just not going to happen here for the former second-round pick.
The problem with cutting him, though, is that the Eagles are so thin at the position as it is. Chung will start at one spot, but we still don’t know who will get the nod at the other spot. Wolff will make the team and has an opportunity to play big snaps right away.
Anderson is too valuable as a special-teams player to dismiss. And based on what Kelly said last night, he wants to keep Coleman around too.
Many teams in the league need safety help, so it’s unlikely the Eagles find an upgrade from another squad. These are the five that stay.
Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos.
Not much to add here.