Eagles Wake-Up Call: Making Sense Of the Depth Chart
The Eagles released their first (unofficial) depth chart of the year Monday in advance of Friday night’s preseason opener against the Bears.
This should obviously be taken with a grain of salt, but then again so should everything else this time of year. So let’s take a look and offer a little bit of context.
No surprises at quarterback. Chip Kelly will explain Wednesday what his plan is for Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley. But Sanchez has had the inside track on the No. 2 job all offseason. Barkley will have to outplay him to win it.
At running back, we know three of the names: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles and Chris Polk. If the Eagles keep a fourth, Matthew Tucker is the favorite. Undrafted free agents Henry Josey and David Fluellen will look to make a splash.
The depth chart above shows 11 personnel (one RB, one TE, three WRs). Brad Smith is listed ahead of Jordan Matthews. That’s going to change some time between now and Week 1. Matthews is probably the player Eagles fans are most excited to see in game action.
Brent Celek is listed ahead of Zach Ertz, but the Eagles will sprinkle in some 2-TE looks.
And you see there are some offensive line spots up for grabs. The five starters plus Lane Johnson are locks. Everyone else is competing.
On the defensive line, expect a shake-up with the backup spots in the next month. Rookies Beau Allen and Taylor Hart are listed with the third team, but they both have shots to make the squad. Joe Kruger is battling for a roster spot.
At outside linebacker, Marcus Smith II has taken over on the second team behind Connor Barwin. Brandon Graham is Trent Cole’s backup, but he’s no lock to make the team.
The Eagles have three inside linebacker spots accounted for: DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Najee Goode. Others – Emmanuel Acho, Casey Matthews and Jason Phillips – are fighting for a (potential) fourth spot.
No surprises at cornerback. And Nate Allen has the leg up on Earl Wolff (for now) at safety.
Perhaps the most noteworthy item on the depth chart is that Nolan Carroll II is listed as the top kickoff returner. Josh Huff is also a candidate to win that job.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Practice observations on Billy Davis, backyard football and more.
Nick Foles is working with a thin receiving corps between Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin’s injuries.
Chip Kelly gives fascinating insight on the receiver trend and (indirectly) DeSean Jackson’s release.
You’ll be surprised who has the Eagles’ third highest-selling jersey.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com offers a 53-man roster projection. He has the Eagles only keeping three running backs:
None of the backup running backs behind Sproles and Polk have stood out in any meaningful way. While Chip Kelly noted that Tucker is “firmly entrenched in that fourth spot right now,” at this point, the additional RB spot is probably better off being used at another position, such as along the offensive or defensive line. Tucker can probably be stashed safely on the practice squad, where the Eagles can elevate him to the 53-man roster if they suffer an injury at RB.
Asked on-air to make a Super Bowl prediction, Cris Collinsworth mentioned the Eagles. Per CBS Philly:
“You know the team that I think will have a chance this year, is the Philadelphia Eagles,” Collinsworth said during the broadcast. “I just feel like Chip Kelly and what they did in that first year with that offense, I know they didn’t get it all in, and this year maybe a little bit more advanced Nick Foles. So I’m kind of keeping my eye on the Philadelphia Eagles.”
We’re back at it with another practice at NovaCare this afternoon.
Don’t forget to pre-order your Eagles Almanac.
PRE-ORDER SPECIAL: $40
Josh Paunil contributed to this post.