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.

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