Eagles Roster Breakdown: The 90-Man Rating System
Back for the second straight year, it’s the 90-man Eagles roster rating system.
Allow this to serve as your training camp primer. The idea is simple. Below you will find every player placed into one of five categories.
Tier 5: These are the longshots. If any of these players land on the 53-man roster, consider it an upset. They will have really opened up some eyes during the summer.
Tier 4: These are the fringe or bubble guys. Don’t count them out, but they’ll very much be fighting for roster spots over the next several weeks.
Tier 3: These are your backups. They might not play a lot this season, but going into camp, they look like pretty good bets to make the team.
Tier 2: These players will be expected to contribute significantly. They’re either starters or true rotational players.
Tier 1: These are your difference-makers. They’ll be the guys responsible for determining how many games the Eagles win in 2014 and what direction the franchise is headed in going forward.
It’s not rocket science (or even sports science, for that matter). So let’s get started, beginning with the bottom of the roster. Note that certain players require longer write-ups than others.
Tier 5: The Longshots
** Note: It’s worth acknowledging that the players below have worked their entire lives for this shot, and I’m not discounting that. The purpose of this exercise is just to assess the roster going into camp. I’ve been proven wrong before.
Kadron Boone, WR – Signed earlier this offseason as an undrafted free agent out of LSU. Would have to leap over several players to earn a spot.
B.J. Cunningham, WR – Bounced between the practice squad and active roster last year. With the additions of Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff, he faces an uphill climb.
Ifeanyi Momah, WR – He definitely looked like an improved player during the spring, but Momah is still a longshot. He’ll have to flash during preseason games to get a serious look.
Quron Pratt, WR – An undrafted free agent WR out of Rutgers, he’s got a lot of guys ahead of him.
Will Murphy, WR – He has the Oregon connection, and his value is in knowing how Chip Kelly likes to practice.
Blake Annen, TE – An undrafted free agent out of Cincinnati, he could warrant practice squad consideration with a strong summer.
Donald Hawkins, OG – Backup offensive line spots are open, so if you think Hawkins deserves to be in Tier 4, I won’t argue with you. But the undrafted free agent out of Texas would have to really impress the coaching staff during camp.
Karim Barton, OG – He has a great story, but is in the same boat as Hawkins.
Kevin Graf, OT – Another undrafted free agent who faces an uphill climb.
Andrew Gardner, OT – Same goes for Gardner.
Josh Andrews, OG – And Andrews too.
Wade Keliikipi, DT – Undrafted free agent out of Oregon. Would have to leap Damion Square and Beau Allen for the backup nose tackle job.
Brandon Bair, DE – Another Oregon guy, but he’s 29-years-old.
Frances Mays, DE – At 6-9, the undrafted free agent fills the King Dunlap void.
Alejandro Villanueva, DE – Great story, everyone’s rooting for him, but from an on-field perspective, it’ll be tough for Villanueva to overtake the guys ahead of him. Something tells me Kelly might try to find a way to keep him in the building in some capacity though.
Jake Knott, LB – He’ll go on the reserve/suspended list for the first four games of the season. Knott would have been a bubble guy anyway. The chances of him returning to the 53 depend on how the other backups/special teamers perform the first month of the season.
Davon Morgan, CB – The 25-year-old got a tryout and made the 90-man roster. Played indoor league last year.
Keelan Johnson, S – Was a longshot even before his arrest last week.
Daytawion Lowe, S – Undrafted free agent; a lot of bodies ahead of him.
Damaris Johnson, WR – He got a chance as the returner last year and couldn’t hold on to it. Given the personnel changes at wide receiver, it’d be a surprise if Johnson were still here in September.
Carey Spear, K – Hate to do it to Murderleg, but based on what we saw in the spring, it would be a surprise if he were to somehow unseat Alex Henery.
Tier 4: The Fringe Guys
Matt Barkley, QB – You can certainly make the case that he belongs in the next tier up, but there haven’t been a lot of signs that suggest Barkley is making significant progress. Kelly puts a lot of stock in the preseason for QBs. That’s where Barkley’s fate will be determined. He could end up anywhere from the No. 2 guy to off the roster.
G.J. Kinne, QB – At first, I had him in “The Longshots” tier, but ultimately I decided he at least has a chance to beat Barkley out for the No. 3 job. Again, if that happens, it will be because of Kinne’s preseason performance.
Henry Josey, RB – We told his remarkable story earlier this offseason. If the Eagles keep four RBs, Josey has a shot.
David Fluellen, RB – Like Josey, he’s an undrafted free agent RB who has a chance for the final RB slot.
Matthew Tucker, RB – I’m on repeat here. The only difference with Tucker is that he was an undrafted free agent last season.
Jeff Maehl, WR – He played 11.5 percent of the team’s snaps last year, but that was without a healthy Jeremy Maclin and no Matthews or Huff on the roster. Maehl will have a tough time sticking.
Arrelious Benn, WR – The words “if healthy” have been attached to his name this offseason. The Eagles acquired Benn via trade last offseason because they felt like he could be a fit. He can block and play special teams – prerequisites for the depth spots at WR. Benn will be competing with Maehl and potentially Brad Smith for a spot.
Emil Igwenagu, TE – If the Eagles keep four tight ends, he could stick.
Trey Burton, TE – Pretty much the same stance here as with Igwenagu. Burton, an undrafted free agent out of Florida, has the versatility Kelly covets, but he may be more likely to land a practice squad spot than a spot on the 53 this year.
Julian Vandervelde, C – He and David Molk will battle it out for the backup center job. The loser of that competition won’t be on the team.
David Molk, C – Copy/paste from Vandervelde entry, just flip the names.
Dennis Kelly, OT – Suddenly the first backup O-Line spot has added significance, now that Allen Barbre will be expected to fill in for Lane Johnson for the first month. That’s good news for Dennis Kelly, who has experience playing guard and tackle. At this point, he has a real chance to make the team and dress on gamedays.
Matt Tobin, OT – Like Kelly, he could benefit from the Johnson suspension and will be competing for a depth spot. Tobin was an undrafted free agent out of Iowa last year.
Michael Bamiro, OT – He probably has more upside than Kelly and Tobin, but Bamiro was labeled a project last offseason when the Eagles signed him. He got reps at tackle and guard in the spring and will be competing for a depth spot.
Beau Allen, NT – He and Damion Square will compete for the backup nose tackle job. The loser is unlikely to make the squad.
Damion Square, NT – He was Bennie Logan’s backup last year, but did not distinguish himself. He’ll need to hold off Allen to make the team.
Joe Kruger, DE – I’d be lying if I said I had a good read on how the team feels about Kruger. A seventh-round pick in 2013, he could earn a rotation spot with a strong summer.
Brandon Graham, OLB – He’s the most well-known of any of the guys in this tier. Others may disagree, but given the numbers at outside linebacker (the Eagles drafted Marcus Smith and signed Bryan Braman), I view Graham very much as a bubble guy. He’s entering the final year of his contract.
Travis Long, OLB – When you ask anyone in the organization about Long, they rave about him. When you ask about Graham, the response is lukewarm. If the Eagles keep five OLBs, it’ll be Graham and Long competing for the final spot. If they keep four, both could be on the outside looking in. Long was signed as an undrafted free agent last offseason.
Jason Phillips, ILB – Depth spots are up for grabs here. If Phillips shows he is healthy and the special-teams ace the Eagles were looking for last offseason, he’ll make the squad.
Emmanuel Acho, ILB – One of the standouts of the preseason last year, he’ll be competing with Phillips and potentially Najee Goode for a spot.
Roc Carmichael, CB – He was the team’s No. 4 CB last year, but with the addition of Nolan Carroll II and rookie Jaylen Watkins, he’s squarely on the bubble.
Curtis Marsh, CB – The 2011 third-round pick would have to beat out Carmichael for the final CB spot. And even that might not be enough.
Casey Matthews, LB – Tough to count him out given his connection to Kelly and his ability to play multiple LB spots (along with special teams), but I don’t see a spot for Matthews this year.
Josh Kaddu, ILB – Originally a fifth-round pick by the Dolphins in 2012, Kaddu played his college ball at Oregon. The Eagles don’t have a lot of depth at inside linebacker, so he has a chance.
TIER 3: LIKELY BACKUPS
Mark Sanchez, QB – He’s the favorite to win the backup job. Others are more confident than I am about his ability to step in and win games should Nick Foles go down, but let’s see how he grasps the offense in the coming weeks.
Chris Polk, RB – If LeSean McCoy stays healthy, Polk will likely see a handful of snaps per game and contribute on special teams. If McCoy goes down for any period of time, the guess here is he’ll split the full workload with Darren Sproles.
Josh Huff, WR – I’m not ready to rule out a larger role for Huff, but at this point, the most likely outcome is he’s the No. 4 receiver. He can rotate in outside and in the slot, along with helping on special teams. Huff has a chance to be the Eagles’ primary return man.
Brad Smith, WR – You could argue that he’s more of a fringe guy, but I think Smith has a leg up on Maehl and Benn, so I put him here. Smith checks off Kelly’s “can do a lot of things” box. He’s a likely bet to land one of the final WR spots.
James Casey, TE – He came to Philadelphia looking for more receiving opportunities. Instead, Casey found that his best chance at earning snaps was as a blocker in the run game and on special teams. Look for that role to be similar in 2014.
Taylor Hart, DE – Familiarity in the scheme is a plus for the Oregon product. He’ll make the roster, but will have to hold off Kruger to dress on gamedays.
Bryan Braman, OLB – Another fascinating story. Braman will be counted on to help on special teams, and don’t be surprised if he gets some pass-rushing opportunities on defense in a rotational role.
Najee Goode, ILB – Nothing’s a given with the Eagles’ backup inside linebackers, but it would be a surprise if Goode didn’t make the team. If he proves he’s capable, Goode could earn a rotational role and help spell DeMeco Ryans.
Jaylen Watkins, CB – I struggled with where to put him. With a strong summer, the rookie (fourth-round pick) could earn some snaps. But he’s an unknown at this point.
Ed Reynolds, S – He missed most of the spring because of NCAA rules. It’s tough to place Reynolds because the Eagles don’t have a wealth of talent at safety, but if he doesn’t pick things up quickly in the summer, this could essentially be a red-shirt year for the rookie.
Chris Maragos, S – He’s basically the Braman of the back end. Maragos will be expected to help on special teams, and he’ll add some depth at safety.
Alex Henery, K – I wasn’t sure where to put the specialists, so I threw them in this tier. Henery needs to improve – both on kickoffs and field goals. But the Eagles didn’t bring in serious competition to push him.
Donnie Jones, P – He was excellent last year and one of the few bright spots on special teams.
Jon Dorenbos, LS – If your kid has the right body type, make him into a long-snapper. You can play forever!