Eagles Depth Chart Analysis: Offense

NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Now that the Eagles’ roster sits at 90 players, we can start to take a look ahead at which spots are up for grabs in the spring and summer.

Today, we’ll provide a position-by-position breakdown of the offense. On Tuesday, we’ll check in on the defense.

Quarterbacks (4): Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, G.J. Kinne.

The only question here is: Who will win the backup job? Unlike last summer, Foles figures to get all the first-team reps. Barkley and Sanchez will battle it out for the No. 2 spot. The loser of that competition will be third.

Chip Kelly has praised Barkley this offseason, but if the team had really been confident in him to back up Foles, the guess here is they would not have signed Sanchez so quickly. I still think it’ll be an open competition, but if I have to peg a favorite in May, it’s Sanchez. Kelly will likely rotate Sanchez and Barkley as the No. 2 guy all the way into the preseason before making a decision.

Running backs (6): LeSean McCoy, Chris Polk, Darren Sproles, Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey, David Fluellen.

When the Eagles cut down to 53 players last summer, they only kept three running backs. If they go that way again this time around, the depth chart is easy: McCoy, Polk and Sproles. As I’ve written previously, Sproles figures to be much more of a factor as a receiver than a running back. He turns 31 next month and only had 53 carries last year. If Sproles carried the ball much more than that in 2014, I’d be surprised.

The trade of Bryce Brown suggests the Eagles have confidence in Polk to back up McCoy. The second-year back played just 48 snaps last year, per Pro Football Focus, but he made the most of his touches, averaging 8.9 yards on 11 runs and 15.3 yards on four catches. Small sample size? Of course. But the way things currently stand, if McCoy were to suffer an injury, Polk would be the most likely candidate to carry the load. It’s worth noting that Polk reportedly had shoulder surgery in the offseason, so he’s a player to watch this spring.

There’s a chance the Eagles go with four running backs this year. Kelly raved about Tucker last week. Josey is perhaps the most intriguing of the undrafted free agents. And Fluellen could get a shot if he impresses. In other words, consider this a three-man race for a possible fourth RB spot.

Wide receivers (13): Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Brad Smith, Jeff Maehl, Damaris Johnson, Arrelious Benn, Kadron Boone, B.J. Cunningham, Ifeanyi Momah, Quron Pratt, Will Murphy.

The Eagles broke camp with five wide receivers last summer, and we have four locks in this group: Maclin, Cooper, Matthews and Huff.

There’s a chance they keep six this year, so we have one or two spots up for grabs. The favorite among the second group to make the team is Smith, primarily because of his versatility. He can play special teams and line up at wide receiver. Kelly even put him in at quarterback last year to run the ball.

Maehl has an outside shot of sneaking onto the roster. The same can be said for Benn, who is coming off an ACL injury. I’d be surprised if Johnson hung around for another year. And Boone is being mentioned as a potential sleeper.

Cunningham, Momah, Pratt and Murphy are all long-shots.

Tight ends (6): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Emil Igwenagu, Trey Burton, Blake Annen.

It seems just about everyone is predicting a break-out year for Ertz, and I can definitely see that. But overall, I’m not yet convinced he’ll play more snaps than Celek, who is the far superior blocker. The Eagles are still a run-first offense, and that means they need their starting tight end to get the job done at the line of scrimmage. Ertz’s improvement as a blocker is a storyline to keep an eye on this summer.

James Casey is due $3.985M in 2014. He started to play more snaps down the stretch last season – primarily as a blocker in the run game. The Eagles could keep him on at that number or ask him to restructure. They could also decide that one of the other guys is capable of carrying out those run-blocking responsibilities at a lesser price. But it’s worth noting that Casey had 13 special-teams tackles last season, second on the team. The guess here is that Kelly still values him.

Last year, the Eagles kept four tight ends on the roster when they broke camp. Igwenagu provides familiarity, but Burton is the most intriguing name. The undrafted free agent out of Florida played a variety of positions in college and could appeal to Kelly as a “toy” on offense.

Offensive line (16): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Dennis Kelly, Matt Tobin, Julian Vandervelde, Michael Bamiro, David Molk, Donald Hawkins, Kevin Graf, Andrew Gardner, Karim Barton, Josh Andrews.

Barring injury, the starting lineup is set with the first five names here. And Barbre proved last year that he can be a valuable backup both at guard and tackle.

Howie Roseman wanted to add depth here during the draft, but was unable to do so. The Eagles also had free agent Daryn Colledge in for a visit last week.

The Eagles kept nine offensive linemen on the roster last summer, and depth is an issue. At tackle, Kelly, Tobin and Bamiro will battle for a spot (or two). Dennis Kelly was injured for much of last year. Chip Kelly offered some praise for Tobin last week. And Bamiro will have to take the leap from project to contributor.

On the interior, Vandervelde and Molk will compete for the backup center job.

Hawkins, Graf, Gardner, Barton and Andrews all face uphill battles as undrafted free agents. But again, spots are up for grabs so anything is possible with impressive performances in the coming months.

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  • Token

    When you look at it like this theres just so many question marks on this team. And this is the stronger unit. Is Foles gonna be the real deal? Can the line stay healthy as it gets older? Will Herremans take another step back? Maclins health. Running back depth looks bad on paper.

    Im looking forward to camp and preseason to see how some of this shapes out. Sproles just isnt much of a RB anymore. So do they really like Polk or Tucker that much.

    • Dominik

      Show me the teams that doesn’t have question marks and I’ll show you a Superbowl contender. If the season doesn’t turn out to be far better than expected, we are not there – yet.

      • glad I read your reply before I typed it verbatim.
        Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go drink my “Token is an eternal optimist” beer

    • Eagles1018

      My question on Foles is will he regress with a new QBs coach? I think it was Bill Lazor last year right? I hear he’s a great coach I don’t know who’s the new guy they have coming in. And rb depth is scary without Bryce. Here’s to hoping sports science works out

      • Andy124

        Bill Musgrave. He’s got a good track record iirc.

    • peteike

      RB depth is fine, least of my worries when you see how much Shady carried last season. Of course that will need to change but too many other holes imo and Im not getting all this negative Sproles talk. Dude is still explosive in space, I love it. Polk looked plenty fine and now a stable of rookies to fill in.

    • Kelly Lord

      RB depth is no different than last year except we lost Brown and have Sproles. I personally liked when Polk got touches and love what he brings to the table as an athlete. You are dead on about Herremans. That wouldn’t be the end of the world as many winning teams last season played with bad RG’s (looking at Seattle) but it just feels so good knowing your Oline is like 90% elite. Just gives me a warm feeling on the inside. Especially after the last 2 years of injuries and an inability to provide depth on the line.

  • Kev_H

    I’d like someone to step up on the line. But overall, they are at least two deep in solid players across the board. I think they will be much more passing oriented this year.

  • eaglefansocal

    Based on Sproles being 1/2 running back, 1/2 receiver I think there will be 4 running backs and 5 Wide receivers on final roster. The only thing that might change that is if the 6th WR is substantially better for special teams than the 4th RB.

  • Dominik

    Good breakdown, Sheil. I think it will come down to 4 RBs (because Sproles will be considered as a slot receiver + part time RB), 5 WR, 3 or 4 TEs, 8 or 9 O-Line with 3 QBs. If I had to guess, it would be 4 TE with 8 O-Line.

    3 QBs are safe, I would consider 4 RBs the safest after that. We are a run heavy team and I can’t imagine Chip only going with 2 “real” RBs into the season. Not at a position that gets the most hits from D-Liner and LB.

    Other than that, it could turn out to be 6 WR, 3 TE and 8 O-Line or 5 WR, 4 TE and 8 O-Line or 5 WR, 3 TE and 9 O-Line. Maybe Chip will “steal” a spot from the Defense, but I’d doubt it.

    • JAMIN67

      I was thinking this after they signed Sproles. I think 4 RB will be kept: McCoy, Polk, Sproles and Tucker. Team will keep 5 WR as Sproles is essentially the 6th, and can swing between RB and slot. Plus it allows us to keep 4 TE, and we know how much Chip values that position.

      • Dominik

        Even with 4 RBs and 5 WR, Chip would have to go with 8 O-Line to have 4 TEs. Will be very interesting which way he’ll chose.

        Don’t forget that Chip works with Y and F TEs like the Patriots do. That could lead him to find a back-up for Casey at F, while Celek and Ertz will be the Ys.

  • Fly High

    I still think that the 49ers drop LaMichael James at some point, and he signs with the Eagles. If we don’t have a quality back-up RB, I think LMJ can be that guy. As for Sproles, I think sports science can make a difference. I think the kind of body care that the Eagles do can be a little bit of the fountain of youth. Several of the Eagles vets mentioned never feeling so good, especially as the season wore on. I am not sure of this, but I would not be shocked if Sproles plays like he did 2 or 3 years ago.

    • Dominik

      LMJ with the Eagles would seem like a good partnership. We’ll have to see how Tucker, Josey and Fluellen are doing (at least one of them could be signed to the PS), but I would take James in a heartbeat.

      I wouldn’t feel too good about Polk running the show with a few Sproles carries if something happens to Shady. Polk + James could carry the load.

      Wouldn’t give up a draft pick (at least nothing above a 7th), but I definitely would welcome him. Was a great college RB who wasn’t good at all at a Power Running scheme. Maybe he would play lights out for Chip and with his spread attack again, maybe he just isn’t physical enough at this level, but I’ll take that chance.

    • JofreyRice

      I’d be cool with that. They need another true ballcarrier–Sproles is not that.

    • TNA

      Why would LMJ sign with the Eagles? Besides the CK connection, he would be fighting for playing time with Sproles, who the Eagles just signed for at least 2 years, behind McCoy. He’d probably want to go somewhere where he’s at least 1-B. From the Eagles perspective, that’s a pretty significant luxury given other needs on the team.

      • Kelly Lord

        While I do not see LMJ getting cut and signing with us, Sproles isn’t a 1B. Whichever RB is next on the depth chart is 1B. Sproles is more of an OW than depth at RB.

    • paul from nc

      Sproles has a lot less wear and tear on him than Shady. I believe I saw somewhere that he has less touches in his career than McCoy has had in the last 3 years.

  • cliff henny

    RB-Polk better have that shoulder squared away, Tucker Josey and Fluellen will give him a run for his money. betting Tucker 3rd and Josey 4th w/ FLu seeing PS
    WR-with Ertz and Sproles being defacto WRs, see no reason to keep more than 5 and can active all 5 gameday. battle is Maehl v Smith, guessing Smith wins, and Boone is our camp crush, gets yr on PS
    TE-i’ve been calling for Celek’s 5m no dead to be cut for 18 months, i wont get this year. think they are over-paying for inline blocker, but he’s kelly’s boy, and no one was signed or drafted to take over, so he’s got that going for him. Emil is gone, Casey hangs around another year. had offset language on that 4m cap 2m dead, so never know, maybe Burton or Annen pops. rather keep 3 TEs, toss 4th to LB and have him be ST. PS both Burton and Annen.
    OL-Herremans final year or Barbre ready to take over? they seem really high on Tobin, too. in end, O-Line is too important to kelly, no surprises. be fun to see what they have in Molk and Bamiro. see if Dennis Kelly’s back healed, too. looks like a whole bunch of PS’s here, see 3 or 4. dont see alot of PS’r on defense

    • B-West

      At this point, none of the contract situations bother me. There are definitely guys on the roster who are overpaid, but I don’t think they hindered the offseason plan in any way. And they certainly aren’t hurting for cap flexibility at this point.

      The one benefit of being so frugal with the money is not having to worry about contracts at roster cut down time. Next year will be a different story with some of the contract extensions that are looming.

      • cliff henny

        i agree, but i’ve posted about 250 times about Celek’s dead money, think couple guys might call me out on him. both him and Casey are overpaid. why playing hardball with Benn seems odd. why wouldnt Celek or Ryan take 2yr ext, cut pay but give some guarantee, these guys live for that guaranteed money.

  • Adam G

    According to rotoworld Casey’s salary is already fully guaranteed for 2014, so he is def sticking around.

    • cliff henny

      2m is, and it has offset language. i think he’s safe, because if they wanted to get max return on that 2m, done it before 90 man was set.

      • DoctorRick

        Casey is still intriguing. No sure why they don’t throw to him more unless it’s just that Celek and Ertz are better receivers, but he has thrown some really nice blocks. I remember the Chicago game as a standout for him.

        • SunShine

          They are so crowded now at the skill positions, even more so than last year. I have a tough time seeing in any meaningful receiving production out of him. It is really strange how it all worked out last year

          • bobloblawslawblog

            good problem to have….defenses won’t be able to sleep on anyone who makes the team, even the last guy….lot of depth at RB/TE/WR

          • paul from nc

            RB and receivers are awesome, the OL needs to stay healthy again this year. One or two injuries and Foles won’t have time to utilize the threats.

  • Will

    I’m really pulling for Blake Annen. I see the potential for mismatches …

  • Andy124

    It’d be great for the Eagles if Barkley beats out Sanchez (by beating him, not by Sanchez out-sucking him).

    • OldDocRoss

      Conversely it would be terrible for Matt if he loses that battle.

      It’s not like he’s got any NFL game tape to write home about, and if the only other thing on your CV is “outsucked Mark Sanchez” you probably shouldn’t be expecting to have a long and prosperous career in the league of national footballs.

      • peteike

        Sanchez gets a bit of a bad rap, I think hes better than he gets credit for

  • JosephR2225

    I hope they figure out some way to use Casey if they’re going to keep him. $4M is a lot for sift blocks and special teams.

    • QuantBack

      James Rice Casey best short yardage Fullback on this squad. 7points vs 3 at the goal line plus first downs/clock management = 15 points thru the season–

      • anon

        But $4m for a fullback with stone hands?

        • cliff henny

          any pass going to Casey, should have to go thru sproles and Ertz hands first, somehow. maybe Foles throws an underhand riser

        • JofreyRice

          is that his problem? PFF has him down for 6 targets all season, and no drops. He must have done something to make them think he shouldn’t be a part of the gameplan.

          • Dominik

            Don’t think he pissed them off. They were in full bpa mode when they drafted Erzt, Chip wanted 11 formation… Bad luck for him, I guess.

      • OldDocRoss

        Who is he beating out in the “Best Short Yardage Fullback” competition?

      • IAteLunchToday

        I knew that at least one Eagles has read these comments. Now I know there are two :)

  • JofreyRice

    I know Brad Smith is old news, but I like him better than projects like Momah or Benn, and more than try-hard lunchpail guys like Maehl and Cunningham. Haven’t watched much of Boone, so I can’t speak on it, but Smith seems like exactly what you want from a 4th WR–tough, good ST’er, can make plays with the ball in his hand on offense. I think he was a nice signing.

    • EaglesFanInPhx

      you mean 5th wr? top 4 are locked in already.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        You say tomato, I say tomato.

      • JofreyRice


      • Jerry Pomroy

        You my friend have win the captain obvious award for today… lol.

    • cliff henny

      Smith isnt that bad. we forget he was signed week 10 or 11, that’s pretty tough to come in, learn plays, have impact. not like KORs were blowing past the 40 and then he took over either.

      • Andy124

        Had a real nice stiff arm after a screen pass reception.

  • Amar

    Down vote to the article for the Kevin Kolb picture.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      That’s Barkley…

      • Amar

        Oops…In that case, just a mild down vote. :)

        • Jerry Pomroy


  • Jerry Pomroy

    Can anyone shed some light on Tucker? Living out of market, I wasn’t able to catch but one PS game against Ravens. I’ll look him up, but I’d like to hear others thoughts on his running style, size, etc.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Not much out there to view but what I was able to dig up (all of 3 plays), I see a long but quick-footed upright runner that doesn’t go down easily. Guess I’m gonna have to sift through actual TCU game footage to take a deeper look.

  • Brad

    No mention of the kicker competition? Gotta cover ALL the O

    • Andy124


      • OldDocRoss

        But some of Henery’s kicking is pretty offensive, amaright?!

        Ah, please yourself.

  • SunShine

    The right Trojan needs to win this back-up battle….Maybe Sanchez isn’t as bad I think he is but Barkley still needs to win this one..
    Can’t wait to see the WRs in action. Lots of talent there and looking for some good production. Also interesting to see how a rookie WR will adjust to Chip’s scheme at the professional level.

  • Jerry Pomroy
  • BuddyBall

    FWIW, during a call-in Q+A for season ticket holders last week, I asked Howie which of the younger, maybe lesser-known players on the roster he was most excited about. On the offensive side of the ball, he specifically identified Matthew Tucker and Matt Tobin. With both Chip and Howie in their corner, it sounds like those guys have to be front runners to land roster spots.

  • peteike

    I dont get the Brad Smith intrigue anymore, really? Id be more interested in seeing a young guy stepping up. Also cant excuse him running out of bounds 5 yds prior to being touched in a crucial game. Not like hes out there taking hits all game.

  • Rick H

    Here are some guys that I want to see physical/mental progression from last year.
    1. Kruger does he use that extra 20 lbs at 290 and make a big difference on d line?
    2. Tucker did he take his big body for a RB and change it for endurance/speed?
    3. Maragos is an interesting guy for safety. If he learns quickly he is in the mix to play?
    4. Barkley I want to see if his arm is really healed or he just doesn’t have the big arm?
    5. Braman again maybe he can do a lot more then special teams? Close with Barwin!
    6. Jason Philips coming back from ACL which will be a big plus if he can produce on ST?
    7. Tobin or Kelly are one of these guys the real deal? Add them to Barbre a big plus!
    8. Maclin was a great draft pick & has produced. If healthy I believe he excels in CK O!
    9. Celek is so much more valuable then most fans realize. Shady should thank him daily.
    10.Polk must show power & quickness or Josey takes a spot. Josey plays fast & shifty!