Eagles Depth Chart: Offense

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Chip Kelly likes to say that the Eagles only have a seating chart, not a depth chart, this time of year.

Luckily, here at Birds 24/7, we don’t have to abide by the same rules. So now that we’ve seen all of the spring practices and have our eyes on the start of training camp (July 25), here’s our stab at what the offensive depth chart looks like (we’ll do the defense tomorrow). I tried to make this as useful as possible, so there are explanations below.

QBNick FolesMark SanchezMatt Barkley
RBLeSean McCoyDarren SprolesChris Polk
WRJeremy MaclinArrelious BennDamaris Johnson
WRRiley CooperJeff MaehlIfeanyi Momah
WR (slot)Jordan MatthewsBrad Smith/Josh HuffBrad Smith/Josh Huff
TEBrent CelekZach ErtzJames Casey
LTJason PetersAllen BarbreMatt Tobin
LGEvan MathisAllen BarbreDennis Kelly/Michael Bamiro
CJason KelceJulian VanderveldeDavid Molk
RGTodd HerremansAllen BarbreMichael Bamiro/Dennis Kelly
RTLane JohnsonAllen BarbreDennis Kelly/Michael Bamiro

Quarterbacks: Not a whole lot to explain here. I know what Kelly said in the spring, but I firmly believe that if the Eagles had a game to play this weekend, Mark Sanchez would be the backup quarterback. Matt Barkley can change the conversation this summer, but the hints have been there all offseason. If the coaches were confident in Barkley to be the backup based on what they saw in his first year, they wouldn’t have signed Sanchez in the first place.

Running backs: One of the messages everyone in the Eagles’ organization seemed to want to get out this spring was that the team believes Darren Sproles can still get it done as a ball-carrier, despite the fact that he’s 31 and averaged just 3.5 rushing attempts per game last season. Obviously Sproles will be used in a variety of ways (in the backfield, in the slot, etc.), and the guess here is still that his impact will be felt more as a pass-catcher than a ball-carrier.

So this section comes with a caveat. If LeSean McCoy stays healthy, Sproles projects to get more snaps and more touches than Chris Polk. But if McCoy goes down, the probable outcome is that the two backs would split time, and Polk would likely get more carries. Guys not listed here like Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey and David Fluellen could get into the mix with strong performances this summer. The Eagles could even add a back if someone they like gets released.

Wide receivers: This is probably the trickiest one to sort out. You’ll notice the depth chart shows ’11’ personnel (one RB, one TE, three WRs) because that’s what the Eagles most often used in 2013. It would be an upset if Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper did not start on the outside in Week 1. Brad Smith took the most reps in the slot with the ones during the spring, but if the season started this weekend, the guess here is that Jordan Matthews would take over that role. And that will almost definitely be the case by the time September comes around.

The Eagles specifically targeted wide receivers whom they think can play inside or outside. I listed Arrelious Benn and Jeff Maehl as the backups on the outside, but if Maclin or Cooper were to go down, Matthews figures to be the most likely candidate to take over their spots. The Eagles could then plug Smith or Josh Huff in the slot.

Maclin, Cooper, Matthews and Huff are locks to make the roster. Guys like Smith, Benn, Maehl and Ifeanyi Momah are fighting for spots. Out of that group, Smith seems like the most likely to stick.

Tight ends: The allocation of snaps between Brent Celek and Zach Ertz will depend mostly on one factor: Ertz’s ability as a run blocker. And because we didn’t see the players in contact drills during the spring, it’s impossible to know how far the second-year player has come in that area. Celek was very good in the run game last year, and even though he only had 32 catches, he averaged a career high 15.7 yards per reception and scored six touchdowns.

Ertz came on strong down the stretch and has a chance to be an outstanding pass-catching tight end. But given how often the Eagles lean on the run game, he’ll need to prove himself in that area to overtake Celek as a starter.

Casey, meanwhile, figures to be a situational player who adds depth and can contribute on special teams.

Offensive linemen: The Eagles will return the same five starters from a year ago. From left to right: Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson.

Dropping Allen Barbre into four of the five backup spots on the depth chart above was not a mistake. If any of the starters except for Kelce goes down, Barbre will take over. At center, Julian Vandervelde appears to still have the edge over David Molk for the backup job.

The second-team offensive line during practices was Matt Tobin, Barbre, Vandervelde, Michael Bamiro and Dennis Kelly. Last year, the Eagles kept nine linemen on their 53-man roster after making cuts. Tobin, Bamiro and Kelly could be fighting for two spots.

For our purposes, I used the Kelly/Bamiro designation for third-team spots at both guard positions and right tackle. They practiced at all three positions, and the Eagles value versatility from their backups.

Some of the other guys who actually practiced with the third team – Donald Hawkins, Karim Barton, Kevin Graf, Andrew Gardner and Josh Andrews – face uphill battles to make the roster. But surprises could emerge during training camp and the preseason.

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  • Andy

    This is very helpful in getting my mind around the roster. Thanks, Sheil. Did you bring special teams roles into consideration at all in filling out these depth charts? It seems to me those are second order considerations particularly in rounding out the bottom of the roster. Thanks.

    • jmkrav

      Hey Andy, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I wished you were asking for Sheils opinion a few years ago when you decided to draft Casey Matthews and sign Stacy Andrews. I mean… I love two-first-names as much as the next guy but sheesh.

      How’s it going in Missouri?

      • Andy

        It’s good, it’s good. The barbecue is great!

  • Kev_H

    The QB comments re acquiring Sanchez saying something about their faith in Barkley seems to be left over thinking from the Andy Reid era, where most of the writers cut their teeth. What we should have learned by Kelly’s actions and words since he was Eagles coach is that “you can never have enough good QBs”, which would realistically be, you would shoot for three good QBs.

    Last year I read that Kelly would have never brought Vick back if he had any faith in Foles, so bringing Vick back meant Foles was done. Kelly said “you can never have enough good QBs.”

    Then I read that the Eagles would have never drafted Barkley if they had any faith in Vick or Foles, so Vick was a stop gap at best, Foles (again) was doomed, and Barkley was the only one who Kelly actually picked, so he’d probably be the starter going forward. Kelly said “you can never have enough good QBs.”

    So, now we read that picking up Mark Sanchez- who I agree is the back up QB- means they have lost faith in Barkley, with the implication he now is doomed and has no future with the Eagles. Kelly said “you can never have enough good QBs.”

    Maybe things will change once they start paying Foles big bucks, but to me, Kelly is taking a wise approach in the NFL and making sure he has multiple guys who can play. Unlike the fraudulent QB guru (every QB he ever traded was a complete bust) Reid who never had a legitimate back up outside of one year each of Jeff Garcia and Mike Vick.

    • Eric Stratton

      To be fair, I think Big Red generally had backups who could play in his offense, save for the 2005 debacle of Mike McMahon. In fact, they looked good enough that guys like Feeley and Kolb netted significant returns in trade. Even Koy Detmer looked decent in that MNF game against the Niners.

      I do agree with your general point that the media may be spending too much time reading tea leaves with Kelly, but I think every beat writer probably tries to do that with every coach. It probably meant more with Reid than it does with Kelly, who seems much more likely to say exactly what he means.

      • Kev_H

        I think it was the fraud part that led to the significant returns in trade. Both Feeley and Kolb played like the players they were both with the Eagles and after, it’s just that people said and still say “Andy Reid knows QBs”. Truth be told, combined, Feeley, Detmer, and Kolb threw 37 TD passes versus 42 interceptions for the Eagles.

        Remember, Reid was only a head coaching candidate because he was considered part of the brain trust that made the pill popping hillbilly Brett Favre a star as the Green Bay QB coach. In hindsight, the coaching skills involved in getting production out of Favre probably weren’t really transferable to other situations. I always thought they should call the “Mike Holmgren coaching tree” (Dick Jauron, Steve Marriucci, Jon Gruden, Ray Rhodes, Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg, Mike Sherman, Jim Zorn, and Jim Mora Jr.) the Brett Favre coaching tree. To his credit, I heard Marriucci say on NFL network once that without Brett Favre, none of those guys would have had a chance as head coaches.

    • mtn_green

      Not sure Chip cares whether Sanchez is ahead of Barkley or visa versa. He is happy to have improved QB3 either way. Let the PS competition play out.

      At some point there won’t be enough if a third team and one or the other will have to get the majority of the reps with the 2s. We will have a ps game before then.

      • Kev_H

        I think you are right. Backup will be similar to last year QB competition.

    • Koy ‘neckbeard” Detmer is totally offended by that last paragraph.

    • harry

      Or A.J. Feeley

      • Maggie

        As a fan watching from a distance, I kind of enjoyed the Detmer/Feeley games. They were a change from the same old, same old Reid playcalling and they seemed to have a blast during their brief moments in the sun.

        • Cheesesteak

          Believe me, change was not always in the good direction…I have nightmares of a rainy day at the Linc hearing “Detmer to Mahe” incompletions all day long on the PO system while the Bengals embarrassed us

          • dnabrice

            I got tix to that game as a Christmas gift for my brother…what a waste…

  • cliff henny

    instead of cloning Barbre, thought we all agreed on Matthews. that way, he can ‘Bugs Bunny’ himself into the starting lineup.

    QB…Jordan Matthews

    WR1,2 and slot…Jordan Matthews

    TE… Jordan Matthews

    LT, LG, C, RG, RT…Jordan Matthews


  • Kev_H

    Similarly with WR, I agree that the Eagles drafted and like guys who can play outside or in the slot. But another thing that Kelly seems to do with young players is to limit them to mastering (I understand that he expects everyone to know all the routes) one position to set them up for success. Benn has NFL experience playing both outside and inside, which was probably a factor in acquiring him (besides his size and speed). If they wanted a roster back-up to play multiple positions, wouldn’t it more likely be a veteran than rookie? Down the road, I can see the rookies, if they succeed, playing all the positions, but it seems like they’d rely on a veteran like Smith or Benn as jack-of-all trades back up for this season.

    • NickS1

      Good thoughts. Definitely make sense.

  • LA Mike

    I heard from a reliable insider that Barkley doesn’t do all the extra work Kelly expects although Barkley thinks he is doing what is necessary. Evidenced is that he did not come into OTAs ripped with a stronger arm. Barkley has been handed starting jobs since high school and he doesn’t know how to compete.

    having said that – Sanchez is a cheap “look-see” and will need to improve his accuracy. The question is: was his lack of development due to his limitations or his OC?

    • Kev_H

      That’s a shame with Barkley. I think there is a lucrative career out there for a guy who masters Chip Kelly’s offense as QB.

  • All Things Bad@ss

    Domowitch tweeting out that Lane Johnson tested positive for PEDs … will miss 4 games. F***!

    • OldDocRoss

      Effing idiot. Lane, not you I mean.

      Hope we don’t get any early injuries on the OL because after Barbre there ain’t much experience on the bench.

    • Javi Echie

      Read the same thing on rotoworld. This really blows, looks like we know how the extra “bulk up” Lane put on this year happened.

    • cliff henny

      wonder when Howie and Eagles knew. Lane might have gotten picked, told good ole’ chipper ‘hey man, this isn’t good’ and gotten Barbre that extension out of nowhere.
      kidding, but I do love a good conspiracy theory

  • Eric Stratton

    I’m not sure I would curse that group of men with Jim Zorn as being part of the tree, but probably a side point.

    I agree that Reid’s rep helped him sell these guys in trade, but I think that rep was earned; he took guys who had little to no success elsewhere (save for Garcia) and made them successful in his offense. The league for some reason thought this meant these guys had talent (well, except for Detmer) and traded for them, when they really should have been trading for Andy Reid’s offense.

    This does not excuse Reid’s other shortcomings as coach, but I think he deserves some due measure of credit for working well with QBs, in the West Coast offense.

    • Kev_H

      But they didn’t do well in Reid’s offense. At best they showed a little promise.

  • MoreRecentTimes

    I don’t care of Maehl knows the system better than Momah. Momah should be ahead on the depth chart. Maehl is a complete waste of space