Eagles Depth Chart: Defense

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

If you missed the look at the offense, click here.

Now onto the defense:

LDECedric ThorntonJoe KrugerTaylor Hart
NTBennie LoganDamion SquareBeau Allen
RDEFletcher CoxVinny CurryAlejandro Villanueva/Brandon Bair
LOLBConnor BarwinMarcus Smith IIBryan Braman
ROLBTrent ColeBrandon GrahamTravis Long
ILBDeMeco RyansJason PhillipsJake Knott
ILBMychal KendricksNajee GoodeEmmanuel Acho
LCBBradley FletcherNolan Carroll IIRoc Carmichael
RCBCary WilliamsBrandon BoykinJaylen Watkins
SMalcolm JenkinsChris MaragosEd Reynolds
SNate AllenEarl WolffKeelan Johnson

Defensive line: The depth chart shows the Eagles in their base 3-4 alignment. The starters are set up front: Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox. But beyond that, there are some jobs to be won. Vinny Curry’s playing time increased last year, and he’s put on weight. He projects to be a situational pass-rusher and backup defensive end.

The backup nose tackle job is up for grabs this summer. Damion Square played there last year, and Beau Allen was selected in the seventh round back in May. If I had to place a wager right now, I’d put my money on Allen to get the nod, but because it’s impossible to evaluate defensive linemen without pads, I placed Square on the second team here.

Joe Kruger and Taylor Hart could both very well make the roster. When Hart was drafted, Chip Kelly noted that he’d already be ahead of some of the current guys in terms of technique and understanding the defense. He could be in line to play base defensive end with the second team if he has a solid summer. It’s unclear how the team views Kruger. He basically red-shirted in 2013 and is now aiming for a rotational spot. He probably brings more pass-rush than Hart.

If you’re looking at overall roster spots, the Eagles could very well keep seven defensive linemen on the 53-man.

Outside linebacker: Barring something unforeseen, Connor Barwin and Trent Cole will go into the season as the starters. I gave rookie Marcus Smith II the benefit of the doubt and placed him with the second team here, even though he was practicing with the threes all spring. Once the season starts, I fully expect the first-round pick to be part of the rotation.

I really don’t know what to make of Brandon Graham. Maybe he continues as a rotational player. Or maybe he’s off the team. Everything’s in play. Those within the organization have had a lot of good things to say about Travis Long. And the team signed Bryan Braman in the offseason to provide a boost on special teams.

Inside linebacker: The starters are in place with DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Billy Davis said the team will play Ryans fewer snaps this season. The player most likely to spell him is Najee Goode. He and Jason Phillips practiced with the twos during the spring.

Jake Knott faces a four-game suspension to start the season. Emmanuel Acho will likely have to prove himself on special teams and beat out Phillips to earn a roster spot.

You’ll notice I don’t have Casey Matthews listed. He switched from inside linebacker to outside last season. I’m not sure there’s a place for him on the roster, but I could be wrong.

Cornerback: The biggest move the Eagles made here during the offseason was signing Nolan Carroll II. He had an excellent spring and could push for a starting job. The guess here is that Carroll is more likely to push Bradley Fletcher than Cary Williams.

It seems pretty clear that Brandon Boykin isn’t going to get a shot to start on the outside, no matter how well he plays. He’ll continue to get about 50 percent of the snaps as the Eagles’ nickel. Jaylen Watkins didn’t show much in the spring, but that’s expected for a rookie. Guys like Roc Carmichael and Curtis Marsh will be fighting for roster spots.

Safety: The coaching staff has made one thing clear: Nothing is going to be handed to Earl Wolff. If the second-year player wants to get on the field, he’ll have to earn it. Malcolm Jenkins is one starter, and Nate Allen is penciled in as the other. Rookie Ed Reynolds has to play catch-up after missing most of the spring. And Chris Maragos’ value figures to come mostly on special teams.

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  • SleepingDuck

    Sheil, I think you meant Joe Kruger, not Paul Kruger, on the depth chart.

    • usmcnole

      Subconscious hope perhaps?

      • UKEagle99

        Subconscious hope… has a nice ring to it. The Washington Subconscious Hopers, I like it.

        • Maggie

          The Washington Wailers? Weepers? Whiners? Too much alliteration? The Washington Filibusters?

    • @SleepingDuck:disqus Eagles have all the wrong brothers…Joe Kruger not Paul Kruger…Casey Matthews not Clay Matthews and Emmanuel Acho not Sam Acho. Anybody else see a trend here?

      • EaglesFanInPhx

        Jaylen Watkins and not Sammy Watkins

        • Good one! We would most def rather have Sammy than Jaylen.

      • dnabrice

        Jason Kelce, not Travis…oh wait….

    • Eagles1018

      I would take Freddy over all of them

  • JosephR2225

    “You’ll notice I don’t have Casey Matthews listed. He switched from inside linebacker to outside last season. I’m not sure there’s a place for him on the roster, but I could be wrong.”
    Are you just saying that to make me feel better after the whole Lane Johnson thing?

    • Chris

      For what it’s worth, it’s helping.

  • Jonathan R. Henry

    Popular opinion has Carroll pushing Fletcher. But do we have a breakdown of who covered better between Fletcher and Williams? I thought Fletcher was pretty good in coverage, but he battled injuries.

    • Brandon Boykin, LOL

      Yah I’d really like Sheil or Tim or Josh to post a side by side of Fletcher and Williams’ stats. Not to criticize you, as you could have a whole different reason for believing what you believe, but I really think that a lot of people judge Williams based off of the sconces incident. That rubbed people wrong. When people are rubbed wrong by a player suddenly the player can do no right. I think that is what happened here. Suddenly Williams is now a worse corner than Fletcher.

      • Jonathan R. Henry

        I see your point, but I had no problem with Sconces. In my mind voluntary workouts meant voluntary, so I didn’t take issue with him in that regard. I like his physicality, but he could be more levelheaded. I was just observing that Fletcher was a pretty good cover corner (when healthy). But I admit I didn’t have the benefit of seeing all the games because I live out of state. (Redskins territory. Ugh!)

  • Travis

    Am I the only one who actually thinks Nate Allen is ok? I know he’s not Ronnie Lott, but he’s not bad. I don’t think he hurts the defense.

    • cliff henny

      right, he’s OK…at best. as in you hope to never hear his name in game. pretty obvious Eagles aren’t signing big name FA safety, so the only hopes of getting impact player there is Wolff and/or Reynolds. longer this goes w/ Earl sitting behind Nate, the more anxious i’m getting. would think Wolff only has to be slightly less than even with Allen, and that’s enough to get job on upside/youth. if Wolff cant beat out a very average Nate, not a good sign, might be Token time for me on the guy (and i’m actually big on Wolff)

      • NickS1

        Let him get some game time this season before we make that call. It’s too soon to go Token on him.

      • Reasonableeaglefan

        Exactly, Nate playing says more about Wolff than Nate. It’s says Wolff can’t beat out an average, in his best season, NFL safety. So that puts him in the career backup range.

        • wow, really? all that from half a rookie season and spring OTAs? sheesh, you’re profile name sure is deceiving

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            I’m not saying that I have written Wolff off, but if we go through this season and he can’t beat out, basically, a replacement level safety, it will speak volumes about Wolff’s long-term projections in the league. Maybe I wasn’t clear earlier. This is more of a thought for the end of the season, not now. I get that he has to earn a spot.

    • UKEagle99

      He is OK, he got better though and definitely played better under Davis than errr Castillo ><

      • Andrew Bruno

        The wide 9 forces the safeties to play the run first, then the pass, so I can’t even blame Castillo. Reid brought in the line coach before hiring Castillo, so he had to work with safeties that didn’t fit the system we ran.

    • travis papa

      Oddly enough I feel like I’m agreeing with myself on this.

    • Tom

      PFF has him rated as an average safety. He’ll be better with Jenkins.

    • dnabrice

      Chung was the issue with the back line of Def last year. Hopefully Jenkins, only a middle of the pack talent, will provide the needed upgrade and allow the safeties to significantly improve as a whole. The ability to play dime with Caroll coming in instead of Roc will also make a huge difference. That should help our 3rd and long defense a TON!

    • SoCalEaglesFan

      Allen is an anomaly. Worthy 2nd round pick. Not a reach. Make or break year for him as far as I’m concerned.

  • Rick H

    Good article Sheil!!! I believe what you have penciled in on offense/defense & special teams is on the money. I know I am dreaming again but I would be pumped if somehow/ someway we could reignite the Dion Jordan talks with Miami. Send them a player they need on offense or whatever and a mid round… I think it would bounce this defense to another level.

    • Amar

      Marcus Smith at Jack and Dion Jordan at Predator….I bet only Tim Howard could block them.

  • MoreRecentTimes

    You can’t kill Casey Matthews. He’s like a ghoul from the horror movies. He gets a dumpster dropped on his head and is left for dead, but somebody needs to double tap that MFer!

    • Maggie

      Just cutting Casey M. should be sufficient.
      “We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive”. See above

      • UKEagle99

        PC gone mad. I took it as a joke, and, you know, laughed.

        • JosephR2225

          “We reserve the right to ban comedians and remove comments that contain jokes, humor, quips, or are flat-out funny.”

          • UKEagle99

            I’ve only ever reserved a table :(

      • MoreRecentTimes

        I feel sorry for you.

      • Jeff Asay

        Really, you can’t tell it’s a joke? C’mon Mags you’re better than this.

        • Maggie

          That’s a pretty standard line, “It’s only a joke.” Yes, it was a joke. But being a mother myself, I kind of get tired of the “mother***ing” phrase being used all the time. Not trying to be PC. If you had read some of my own posts over the last year or so, you would know that.

      • Matt

        I think he means Curtis Marsh, not sure what’s offensive

    • PaoliBulldog

      He’s not the only CM who’s hard to get rid of….

  • UKEagle99

    Casey Matthews is currently on the team? I paid good money to get his smoothies spiked!

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    • Jeff Asay

      Watch it, the PC police i.e. Maggie are on patrol with no tolerance for this type of humor. Lol

      • Maggie

        My Mother and I were both born in the UK. We both enjoyed a little giggle from time to time. Just that phrase scraped a nerve from time to time.

    • Eagles1018


    • Maggie

      Euros or pounds? Shillings?

  • UKEagle99

    Probably no good to my US brothers but any UK fans out there we can earn £57.35 per week reading this blog 24/7 as intended!


  • NickS1

    Kiko Alonso with a torn ACL. Damn.

  • dislikedisqus

    Marcus Smith, Joel Embiid, Darko Saric. Why have Philly teams developed this habit of using first round picks on people they don’t expect to play?

    • Joe L

      Because this isn’t a fantasy league where you draft a new team each year. Developing players is a real thing, not just something we talk about. And Smith will see the field plenty this year.

    • wtf? apples and hand grenades. go ahead and name all the rookies who have been drafted at 26 and were a huge impact their 1st year.
      I’ll even get you started: last 5 years were Datone Jones, Whitney Mercilus, Johnathan Baldwin, Dan Williams, and Clay Matthews.
      education is key, brother

      • dnabrice

        Wow…Pick 26 is money. This means Smith is going to be awesome right???

  • NYG

    NYG superbowl 2014