Eagles 53-Man Roster: The Final Draft

Sorry, Sheil, sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. You went first, you selected Mat McBriar as your punter, and hours later the news came down that he would be cut.

So I submit my final projections for the Eagles’ 53-man roster at plus-one. And no, I take no shame in gaining an advantage this way. On the line is a night of whiskey drinking on the loser for the victor and a few of his friends. Tell my wife not to wait up Friday night.

Here we go.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Trent Edwards.

This is my first time putting Edwards on the team. It was just a couple weeks ago when I never thought it would happen. As I detailed yesterday,  Foles’ rise has shifted the dynamic and the rookie is an important part of this franchise all of a sudden. Edwards, given his similar history and tight relationship with Foles, might just be the answer for the No. 3 spot.

Cut: Mike Kafka

Running backs (5): LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk, Stanley Havili.

I have been trying to solve this riddle for some time now. Who will go, who will stay, do they need a traditional fullback, etc. In my final analysis, I say they do need a true fullback, so Havili is on. The Eagles seem to like Polk, too, and he’ll get scooped up if cut. So I have decided to keep them all. Chad Hall will be the odd man out as a result. He has some practice squad eligibility remaining anyway, and this is the way to ensure you are keeping the best football players on your team.

Cut: Emil Igwenagu

Wide receivers (5): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson.

Hall is sacrificed. Marvin McNutt has not earned a spot this  preseason. The first couple weeks of the season could be a little tricky with Cooper still not all the way back from a broken collarbone. But four receivers should be enough for game day, and Johnson needs to be active as the punt returner anyway.

Cut: McNutt, Mardy Gilyard

Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.

Nothing has changed here. Let’s move on.

Cut: Brett Brackett, Chase Ford

Offensive linemen (9): King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Steve Vallos.

Remember when I had Dunlap on the verge of being cut? That was fun. Beyond the four starters returning from last season, I can’t speak with any great confidence about any of the other offensive linemen. I do, however, have confidence in Howard Mudd to somehow make it a capable group.

Cut: D.J. Jones, Dallas Reynolds, Brandon Washington.

Defensive linemen (10): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Brandon Graham,  Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, Darryl Tapp.

Sheil has all eleven defensive linemen staying, and I can certainly see the logic. In my previous projections I had Tapp being dealt, but Babin’s injury has me rethinking my stance. We have no guarantees that he’ll be ready for the start of the season. And will the calf strain linger? Antonio Dixon doesn’t make it here, which leaves the Eagles with four defensive tackles. If injury strikes, they’ll have to go onto the market for someone else.

Cut: Dixon, Frank Trotter, Ollie Ogbu, Monte Taylor.

Linebackers (6): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan.

Seems like the group to me. Don’t anticipate any surprise cuts here, but I suppose you never know.

Cut: Keenan Clayton, Adrian Moten, Ryan Rau, Monte Simmons.

Cornerbacks (6): Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Joselio Hanson, Brandon Hughes.

A lot of analysts have Hughes being cut, especially those who are trying to get that extra defensive lineman on the roster. Could be. My thinking is that leaving Marsh as the lone option for when Asomugha moves inside might be asking for trouble. Ten defensive linemen is plenty. This is an important position as well. There’s no need for unnecessary risk.

Cut:  Trevard Lindley.

Safeties (4): Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Jaiquawn Jarrett.

In all honesty, this is not the four safeties I see being on the opening-day roster. There is just too much uncertainty, especially now that Allen has had two different injuries to the same hamstring this summer. Atogwe, Jarrett, or both may be gone, but it’s tough to say who Howie Roseman will find to take the vacated spot(s).

Cut: Phillip Thomas

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Chas Henry, Jon Dorenbos.

You know, I’ve really been thinking about this, and I have a hunch Henry is going to surprise a lot of people and beat out McBriar. Call me crazy, Kapadia.

Cut: McBriar

Follow Tim on Twitter and e-mail him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com

Projecting the 53-Man Roster: The Final Tune-Up

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon.We are now just a week away from the roster being trimmed down to 53, which means it’s time to get serious. This is the last tune-up before the final drafts are submitted. Sheil gave his take on Thursday.

Here’s my stab at it.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles.
Confidence level: 9

There has been a public push lately to have Trent Edwards make it over Kafka. The Eagles are going to have to take a deep breath before shaping this roster, though, and remember not to put too much stock into preseason performance. Edwards has been playing against third stringers. Kafka only threw nine passes. The plan has been to have Kafka be Vick’s backup, and now he’s off the team? Let’s save our preseason overreaction exclusively for Foles.

Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.
Confidence level: 6

I have campaigned for Polk at the expense of Brown, and you have continually slapped me down. I’m ready to relent: you can’t keep Brown off the roster. Polk hasn’t seen time at fullback yet, though Marty Mornhinweg did allow that the coaches have discussed it. He then went on to say they would bring Polk along slowly and play to his strengths at first in this hypothetical scenario. They have thought through this. I’m not sure Stanley Havili brings you that much more as a blocker. I say both rookies stay.

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Chad Hall.
Confidence level: 6

I can’t justify reserving a spot for Marvin McNutt any longer. He just hasn’t shown anything in the preseason from what I can tell. If you believe in him long term and think he’ll get snatched off the practice squad, then fine. I think you might be able to stash him at this point. Hall gives you a reliable option in the event of injury or if the Johnson punt return experiment goes awry.

Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.
Confidence level: 9

Have to give it Harbor. He’s looked good so far. I still don’t feel tremendous about the position, but this will be the duo going in.

Offensive linemen (9): King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Mike Gibson.
Confidence level: 6

With Herremans missing Thursday’s game for personal reasons, Kelly will get to run with the first team at right tackle. Pretty interested to see how he does. He and the entire reserve crew is a big question mark. Left tackle is unsettled, the starters have had their share of issues and you can’t speak about any of the backups with any great confidence. Howard Mudd has his hands full.

Defensive linemen (10): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Brandon Graham,  Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, Antonio Dixon.
Confidence level: 7

Hunt has been the best Eagles defensive end this preseason. He has played himself onto this roster. When crunching the numbers, it arguably comes down to Dixon and Darryl Tapp. Dixon is not an ideal fit for the system, but tackle is not as stacked as defensive end. With Mike Patterson shelved for the foreseeable future, you may want some insurance inside. In this projection, I have Tapp getting dealt.

Linebackers (6): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan.
Confidence level: 8

I toyed with the idea of keeping Clayton as a backup, backup plan in case the safety spot goes to hell (which is entirely possible). I am now sober, and give the nod to Jordan. Kendricks has been fantastic so far while Ryans is coming on slowly. I continue to feel good about the linebacker corps, and can’t remember the last time I said that.

Cornerbacks (6): Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Joselio Hanson, Brandon Hughes.
Confidence level: 7

There are a couple battles that remain unresolved, and it might be best to go with all six corners here. Boykin might win the nickel spot but he hasn’t yet, so Hanson should stay. And is Marsh that far ahead of Hughes for the next man in when Nnamdi Asomugha slides inside?

Cliff Harris has been very quiet since a strong start to training camp. He seems like a practice squad guy for now.

Safeties (4): Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Confidence level:7

In reality, Tom Nelson was splitting second-team reps with Jarrett for a sniff, and now he’s hurt. Jarrett apparently had a better outing against New England. The guess here is he sneaks on the roster unless Howie Roseman makes a move over the next week.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbos.
Confidence level: 7

Chas Henry is putting up a fight, but experience will likely win out.

Follow Tim on Twitter and e-mail him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com.

McManus vs. Kapadia: Projecting the 53-Man Roster

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce BrownA good effort by Sheil in his attempt to project the Eagles’ 53-man roster. Sadly, he is dead wrong.

In case you missed it, we’re squaring off against one another to see who can most accurately predict what the final roster will look like. We’ll do this each week leading up to the trim-downs. We haven’t yet settled on the stakes, but here is the leader in the clubhouse, courtesy of reader distantfires:

Winner and three friends get to pick the spot for a round of single malt whiskey paid for by loser (who’s welcome to attend at his own costs).

Not a whiskey man, but I’ll gladly pour a couple back at Kapadia’s expense. Might even let him take in the good times (but probably not).

Sheil’s picks are here. Now onto the real list:

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles.

Time to accept that Kafka is the backup if you haven’t already. Trent Edwards isn’t long for this team, and Foles just is not  ready. The coaches like the way Kafka’s developing but concede that the most important thing for him is reps. The preseason is pretty important for him, then.

Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Chris Polk, Stanley Havili.

This is a tough one. The concept of keeping both Bryce Brown and Polk, and having no traditional fullback on the roster, is intriguing. Maybe that’s how I’ll have it for my final draft. For now, though, I see the Eagles leaning towards the backs that know how to throw a block when the situation calls for it. Brown told me earlier in camp that he has never pass protected in his life, and I just can’t shake it. Polk seems to have the knack for it, and maybe even gets a goal-line tote or two. Brown could become a trade chip.

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt, Damaris Johnson.

Can’t argue with Sheil’s assessment here. As good of a story as guys like Tiger Jones are, I don’t see any dark horses snatching a spot. Johnson is listed as the primary punt returner — that’s a pretty good sign for the rookie out of Tulsa, and probably a bad one for Chad Hall.

Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.

Stand around me for long enough, and you’ll hear me voice my concerns over Celek. He plays through more than most realize, and I can’t think of the last time he was truly healthy. At the moment, he’s dealing with a knee injury that occurred just snaps into training camp. There needs to be a Plan B.  I think the Eagles would like to keep either Brett Brackett or Chase Ford as an option. Standing at 6-5 and 6-6 respectively, the thought of having a large, pass-catching end has to be appealing. Chances are, though, they’ll stash a tight end on the practice squad and call him up when necessary.

Offensive linemen (9): Demetress Bell, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Mike Gibson, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, King Dunlap .

I am close to leaving Dunlap off the team. He just doesn’t look healthy to me. I find myself  feeling bad for him as he lugs his massive 6-9, 330-pound frame around the practice field in apparent discomfort. Right now, though, there’s no great options at tackle.

Offensive line depth looks like a potential issue on the surface. I get the sense, however, that Vandervelde has something to bring to the table, and will be the answer at center if Kelce goes down.

Defensive linemen (10): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton.

I am also working off the notion that Mike Patterson will begin the season on the PUP list. There is a hope that he’ll be able to play this season, but who knows.

For right now I have Dixon being cut. Seems like his conditioning is not quite where it needs to be, and it’s fair to question whether he is a Jim Washburn type of player. Given his difficult path, he is a man to root for if there ever was one. And maybe he is a run-stuffing presence that this team needs. I’m just not convinced at the moment that he makes it.

In a recent conversation with Washburn,  the D-line coach started raving about Thornton unprompted. He could win the fight with Dixon if they decide to roll with  six defensive ends. If they choose to go with five, the guess here is that Hunt would be the odd man out.

Linebackers (6): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan.

Sheil and I are in agreement. It comes down to Jordan and Keenan Clayton, who has been a bit buried on the depth chart here at training camp. He has a chance to bump up his stock this preseason, and will need a good showing.

Matthews might just work himself into some playing time at some point this season. Learning behind Ryans looks like it is paying off.

Cornerbacks (6): Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Joselio Hanson, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes.

I am not ready to hand the nickel corner spot to Boykin quite yet. The sentiment amongst the defense is that it will be tough to unseat Hanson. Boykin could very well win the job eventually this season, but it will take some time. The Georgia product is still smack in the middle of a pretty steep learning curve.

The wild card is Cliff Harris, who has a great deal of ability. Will it translate during these preseason games? A tweaked ankle may hold him back to start. Kevin Thomas, who was recently acquired from the Colts for a pair of linebackers, seems like a longshot.

Safeties (4): Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Oshiomogho Atogwe.

If Colt Anderson is healthy it would be wise to find a spot for him. However, the special teams demon is coming off a torn ACL and is still working off on the side with the other injured players up at training camp. Makes sense to throw him on an injury list and hope he can be a force for you down the road.

Some thought Jarrett was dancing on the bubble heading into Lehigh. While the jury is still out on him as a player, his roster spot no longer seems to be in jeopardy.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbos.

McBriar agreed with Reid’s evaluation that he is at about 90 percent health. Given his ability and experience, that should be enough to beat out Chas Henry.

Follow Tim on Twitter and e-mail him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com.