Eagles Wake-Up Call: Final 53-Man Roster Projection
The Eagles have until 4 p.m. Saturday to trim their roster from 75 to 53. Here’s my second and final attempt to project what the the initial 53-man will look like.
Quarterbacks (3): Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow.
Matt Barkley is expected to start on Thursday, and has been the first man in over Tebow in each of the exhibition games. Does he have the edge? Or is he being showcased? It’s hard to ignore all the trade buzz that has surrounded Barkley over the last several months. Maybe they get something for him, maybe they don’t, but the fact that the Eagles appear to be exploring trade avenues suggests that they’re comfortable with Tebow being their third QB. Tuesday evening, Ian Rapoport wrote that it seems Tebow “has a very good chance to make the Eagles.” We’ll say that he does.
Running backs (4): DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner.
Barner has earned a spot with his play this preseason, no doubt. The only question is how he fits in. Barring injury, it’s unlikely he’ll get any snaps at running back. And he’d be competing with the likes of Sproles, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and Ryan Mathews in the return game. But if it’s about keeping the best 53, Kelly needs to find a spot for him. Raheem Mostert is an ideal practice squad candidate (assuming he doesn’t get plucked off it).
Wide receivers (6): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Riley Cooper, Miles Austin, Seyi Ajirotutu.
Some have asked whether Cooper is in jeopardy of getting cut. I don’t see it. His $4 million salary for 2015 is now fully guaranteed. He’s been lining up as one of the starting receivers for most of the preseason, and Kelly seems to like him. Similarly, the Eagles have $1 million invested already in Austin and I think he sticks. It might come down to Ajirotutu versus Jeff Maehl for the final receiver spot unless Kelly decides to roll with seven, in which case he could keep both.
Tight ends (3): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton.
With depth at both running back and receiver to account for, the Eagles might have to go light at tight end. Eric Tomlinson would be a nice emergency option on the practice squad.
Offensive linemen (9): Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Matt Tobin, Lane Johnson, Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly, David Molk, Malcolm Bunche.
This has to be the hardest position to predict. The head coach spoke very highly of Kelly this week, saying that he is a perfect fit for what they do. I believe he’ll get the nod. This projection leaves the likes of John Moffitt, Julian Vandervelde, Brett Boyko and Josh Andrews off, though I wouldn’t be shocked if any of them made it.
Defensive linemen (7): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Brandon Bair, Taylor Hart.
Solid group. Seventh-round pick Brian Mihalik could probably use a year of seasoning on the practice squad.
Outside linebackers (5): Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman, Brad Jones.
Curry will see time at OLB as well. Is Smith in jeopardy of being released? While showing some signs of progress, the former first-round pick still isn’t where the coaches were hoping he’d be at this point. Complicating the evaluation process is the fact that he’s missed significant time this offseason with various injuries. I’m not sure that you give up on a first-round pick this early, though (especially one that evaluators deemed a project from the get-go), and it’s not like the Eagles are over-flowing with depth at this position. I say he stays for now.
Inside linebackers (4): DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks.
Najee Goode would be the next man in. I think he deserves a spot, but is there room? Where do you subtract?
Cornerbacks (5): Byron Maxwell, Nolan Carroll, Jaylen Watkins, Eric Rowe, E.J. Biggers
Randall Evans and Denzel Rice could be sound practice-squad options. Someone needs to step up and grab the nickel corner job.
Safeties (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Walter Thurmond, Chris Maragos, Chris Prosinski.
Flipping and flopping between Prosinski and Ed Reynolds, who had a pair of interceptions in the preseason opener against the Colts. Jerome Couplin should be mentioned as well. Prosinski is the top special teams player of the three and is not eligible for the practice squad, whereas Couplin and Reynolds are. So I’m going Prosinski.
Specialists (3): Cody Parkey, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos.
Parkey needs to get healthy, and soon.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Notes: Alonso, Huff plan to play in preseason finale.
“There is a lot of weight in it.” Kelly says preseason finale will factor into the evaluation for the Eagles’ third quarterback spot.
The great Tebow two-point conversion experiment stumbled out of the gates. Josh examines why.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“The most important thing you need to know about Robert Griffin III — it’s THE thing — the most important thing is that there are a lot of teams interested in him. They don’t necessarily want to trade for him. They want to see if Washington cuts him. And if they cut him, you will see teams go after him. And from what I hear from around the league, teams around the league, look for three big teams to emerge if that happens. […] The second team, Philadelphia Eagles. Chip Kelly thinks he can make any quarterback into Joe Montana. [Philadelphia] is a natural fit there as well.”
Tommy Lawlor weighs in.
If they do cut him, I think Chip Kelly would have interest. RG3 hasn’t proven to be a good pocket passer, but there is something to work with. Injuries have stripped RG3 of some of his athleticism, but he can still run well and has a very strong arm. It is hard to say how Kelly would judge RG3’s injury history since Chip just traded for Sam Bradford…
Some fans will simply respond that this is all a waste of time. “That guy is a bum and he sucks.” I see a player who is talented, but flawed. A good coach can work on flaws. He can’t make someone more talented. That’s why I’d have interest. And I do think getting RG3 out of D.C. will help. That organization has been a mess for more than 20 years. I like their new GM, but I’m not sure Snyder can keep away and let football guys really run the place long term. We’ll see.
A travel day for the Eagles, but we have some good stuff coming your way.