McManus: Final 53-Man Projection

Teams must trim their rosters down to 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday. Time to submit our final projections for the Eagles.

Sheil will post his take in a bit. Here’s mine:

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley.

Chip Kelly feels like he has at least two NFL-caliber quarterbacks on the roster, and possibly three. Maybe so, but “NFL-caliber” doesn’t get you much in this league. You need above average play from your signal-callers if you really want to go somewhere. Vick will get the first crack at running Kelly’s offense. Foles is just an injury away from getting his chance.

A reminder that Dennis Dixon still has some practice squad eligibility remaining. He can be of some value there.

Running backs (3): LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.

Kelly recently said that he would put this grouping up against any trio in the league. The upside is definitely there. The two main questions are: Can Brown hold onto the ball? And can Polk stay healthy? If the answer to both questions is yes, then Kelly might be right. I’m guessing Matthew Tucker finds his way onto the practice squad.

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Greg Salas, Russell Shepard.

Six seems like a lot to me. But the bottom of the roster is just thin, and this is what I keep coming back to.

If it comes down to Salas and Shepard, it really depends what you’re after. If you want a more polished player who could provide a little more production this season, Salas is your man. If you want to hold onto a prospect that could bloom down the road, then you give the spot to Shepard.

I haven’t seen enough out of Jeff Maehl or Ifeanyi Momah to give them serious consideration.

Tight ends (4): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Clay Harbor.

I just don’t see Kelly keeping less than four tight ends. He has already shown a four tight-end look this preseason. They are a big part of his offense. Harbor might not be a great tight end or receiver, but the fact that he can be presented as both is likely attractive to Kelly.

Offensive linemen (9): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Danny Watkins, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde.

I have Watkins making it, but I’m not sold. Barbre has replaced him as the primary backup at guard, looks like. I would not be at all surprised if they decided to hand his roster spot to Michael Bamiro or Matt Tennant or Dallas Reynolds. Or anyone, really. Kelly likes versatile players, and Watkins has only played guard this preseason.

But I’ll take a stab and say the Eagles give him one last crack at it. His $1.1 million base salary is guaranteed anyway, so why not?

Defensive linemen (7): Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Damion Square, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers.

It appears the Eagles have some decent depth here. Kelly would like to keep six defensive linemen active on game day. Count Cox, Sopoaga, Thornton, Logan and Curry in that group, and add either Square or Geathers depending on performance or preference.

Tough to see David King making the cut. Joe Kruger seems like a good practice squad candidate.

Outside linebackers (4): Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Chris McCoy.

Barwin is the only player in this group with NFL regular-season experience at outside linebacker. That can’t make Billy Davis very comfortable. The Eagles will keep an eye on the open market to see if they can bolster the position. They recently traded for Adrian Robinson, but I don’t think he’s the answer.

Inside linebackers (4): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jake Knott, Emmanuel Acho.

How dare I disrespect the Acho by keeping him off  my initial projected roster. He was all over the place against the Jets.OK, it was a meaningless game against backups, but he was better than the guys he is competing against. And he led the team or was tied for the lead in tackles in three of the four preseason games.

Casey Matthews has the whole Oregon connection thing going for him. He’s right on the bubble for me, but I’m leaving him off.

Cornerbacks (5): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, Jordan Poyer.

This unit is razor-thin following the hand injuries to Hughes and Curtis Marsh. With the starters resting, Kurt Coleman even saw some time at corner against New York. The Eagles recently worked out Robert Steeples and will continue to be on the hunt for help. It’s a good bet that this group looks different by the start of the season.

Poyer has not shown a whole lot  but will make the team based on potential and need.

Safeties (5): Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson, Kurt Coleman.

Chung was the only safety to get the night off against the Jets. Allen and Wolff both started. It looks like the competition for the other starting safety spot is coming down to the wire.

Chances are, the tandem that starts this season will not be together for all 16. There will probably be some mixing and matching. Might as well have some options, even if they aren’t great ones.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos.

Henery has settled in after a slow start to camp.

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  • Johnny Domino

    If there is a trade partner for Cole or Graham, I’d have to think about that. Picks later and somebody else’s cut that has at least played some OLB might be preferable.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    I like it Tim

  • Engwrite

    What has changed from last year at this time?
    QBs are the same although Foles has 1year experience. (Hopefully he won’t need to play) RBs are the same and, though Brown has shown All Star potential, he still runs with the ball exposed. Receivers are the same, minus Maclin, a big loss.
    TEs are the same, considering Ertz is a rookie and hasn’t shown much and Casey is hurt, again. The O-line is the only improvement in that Peters is healthy, and the right side—a weakness last year, should be improved though Johnson is a rookie and Herremans has been inconsistent.
    The defense is harder to estimate because of all the changes. The best pass rushers are playing new positions. Barwin seems to be a good addition. Backfield is no better than last year’s disaster (Chung was let go by the Patriots). Even the coordinator. Is he better? Not based on past performance nor on preseason. The D has had a tendency to give up big plays, both running and passing when the D has looked like Keystone cops. Cox, Kendrick and Barwin may become stars. The rest, not so much. I’m less hopeful now that at the beginning of preseason.
    The only area I see clear improvement is STs; new coach, better punter.
    So, considering football is a team game, the hope for a better showing is (a) better field position, (b) better O-line play—a reasonable expectation but the Oline still has to show up, (c) less turnovers—no sign of improvement so far, and (d) a new scheme. I like it that almost every play is a genuine play action and that they run the ball on 3rd down with 3, 4, 5 yards to go and so far tend to make it. I also hope Kelly will have some surprises, otherwise this will be a long season.

    • Adam

      Turnovers and special teams will be absolute biggest key to improving on the 4-12 season. If the Eagles can’t create turnovers on D they need to limit them on O. Hoping the scheme will make Vick throw less picks, if he makes the right reads he should have single coverage where he throws.

      The offense will score points and get yards. I don’t think the D can get worst than last year, I think they’re better by subtraction. NFC East is a weak division. Don’t under estimate the value of adding Chip Kelly. It’s not a fluke he’s turned around every program he’s been in charge of.

      • Engwrite

        I hope you are right. I was very optimistic about the offense but was disappointed with Vick and the O-line on the 3rd game when Jacksonville dared them to pass. I had expected this would be a running offense because no one should dare ignore Desean, who has looked good, the best I remember. I’ve also liked how well Brown catches the ball and how effective he’s been after catching the pass. [Need to remember he is no more than a college Junior worth of experience] So, with better field position and a very strong running game, short passes to the RBs and TEs, the opportunistic long pass to Desean, with the occasional 3rd down passes to Avant to get a 1st down, I hope you are right and this team scores a ton of points. They’ll need them.

  • chip

    Man, this depth chart is depressing with the exception of the starting OL, RB’s, ILBs and DL.

  • Richard Colton

    Kapadia has Tobin and Bamiro making the squad, Tim doesn’t. I’m going with Sheil on this one.