Eagles Wake-Up Call: Final 53-Man Roster Projection

Who will be the third quarterback? How many safeties will the Eagles keep?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

After watching the last two preseason games, and letting T-Mac publish his final roster projection before last night’s finale, it’s time to unveil my final thoughts on which 53 players will make the team. I also listed the ten guys I expect to make the practice squad.

Quarterbacks (3): Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow.

Heading into the Jets game, I thought Tebow already led Matt Barkley in the battle for the third quarterback spot. Now, I think he’s definitely ahead. A lot has been made about Tebow’s potential as a weapon in short-yardage situations, but Tebow has clearly been better through the air in the preseason. In the preseason, Tebow has two passing touchdowns, one interception and a 90.8 passer rating. Barkley, meanwhile, has zero touchdowns, two interceptions and a 57.5 passer rating. Although Tebow has made several bad plays that don’t show up in the box score, the eye test doesn’t exactly help Barkley out either.

Running backs (4): DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner.

Practice squad: Raheem Mostert.

After returning a punt for a touchdown in each of the first two preseason games, Barner has seemingly been a lock. Although he didn’t have any more explosive plays on special teams in the last two contests, he appears to have done enough to make the roster. He adds value to the kickoff unit and has shown he’d be a capable back in the unlikely event that he’d get snaps at running back.

Wide receivers (6): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Riley Cooper, Miles Austin, Seyi Ajirotutu.

Practice squad: Rasheed Bailey.

Bailey has talked over and over again about how special it would be for him to go from playing for a Division III program to playing for his favorite NFL team growing up. Well, unless another teams claims him, he looks like a good bet for the practice squad. As I’ve previously mentioned, Austin and Cooper make it because of the money they’re owed and Ajirotutu is an outstanding special teams player.

Tight ends (3): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton.

Practice squad: Eric Tomlinson.

This is another position that hasn’t changed much throughout the preseason, although Ertz’s injury has muddled the picture. If Tomlinson makes the team, take that as a sign that Ertz may not be available for the first couple of games of the season. Even if Ertz’s injury doesn’t concern the Eagles, Tomlinson is still likely to make the practice squad.

Offensive linemen (8): Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Andrew Gardner, Lane Johnson, Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly, David Molk.

Practice squad: Kevin GrafBrett Boyko, Malcolm Bunche.

This is the toughest group to gauge. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bunche and Boyko make the roster and Kelly and Molk don’t. As Chip would say, they’ve each had their ups and downs and what will likely push the bottom few guys ahead of the others is how they’ve performed in practice and drills. One of the few things we know about the battle is this: Chip values versatility. That—plus his unimpressive preseason performance—is why I doubt John Moffitt makes the roster. Moffitt’s reps have come almost exclusively at right guard.

Defensive linemen (7): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Brandon Bair, Taylor Hart.

Practice squad: Brian Mihalik.

Mihalik, in my mind, is the first guy off the roster. In order to keep five safeties—which I think the Eagles will do—you have to cut someone at another position, and that’s Mihalik. He’s shown the potential to develop into a good backup and the practice squad will help him get to that point.

Outside linebackers (5): Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman, Brad Jones.

I don’t know how widespread this idea actually is, but one thing I’ve been hearing more and more frequently lately is speculation that Chip should cut Smith. Just stop. He’s a first round pick who only has one year under his belt and was billed as a developmental project who would need time to grow. Give him that time. Stop being so unnecessarily impatient.

Inside linebackers (4): DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks.

Although only four guys are listed here, Jones can swing back inside if needed. Jones’ versatility—plus his value on special teams—is why he’ll make the roster. A lot of names have been thrown around after Kendricks’ extension when considering who else may get a new contract, but what about Alonso? He has two years left on his rookie deal and would give the Eagles an excellent tandem when combined with Kendricks for the near future.

Cornerbacks (5): Byron Maxwell, Nolan Carroll, Eric Rowe, E.J. Biggers, Jaylen Watkins.

Practice Squad: Denzel RiceRandall Evans.

I detailed yesterday the uninspiring options the Eagles have at the nickel spot, but no one has stepped up to provide a substantial challenge to Biggers’ and Watkins’ roster spots. Rice and Evans, however, have shown enough to warrant two practice squad positions.

Safeties (5): Malcolm Jenkins, Walter Thurmond, Chris Maragos, Chris Prosinski, Jerome Couplin.

Practice squad: Ed Reynolds.

Jenkins, Thurmond and Maragos are locks. After that, it’s a mess. I expect Prosinski to make it because of his special teams skills and the coaches seem to like Couplin and believe he has potential, despite his injury. Reynolds could make the roster, another team’s 53-man or the Eagles’ practice squad. The Eagles simply don’t have enough spots for all of the players deserving of one.

Specialists (3): Cody Parkey, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos.

It was always very unlikely that Kip Smith would earn a roster spot as either a kicker or punter for the Eagles, but after missing both of his extra points last night, none of the other 31 teams will want him as a kicker either.


Breaking down Kiko Alonso’s debut and more from last night’s game.

T-Mac’s observations from the preseason finale.

“Kenjon left with a recommendation from the doctors: quit football.” A deep dive on Kenjon Barner’s journey.

Emptying out the mailbag to talk about Darren Sproles, the nickel spot and more.


Eric Rowe reflects on his first preseason and looks forward to the regular season, writes Corey Seidman.

That’s going to be an entirely different challenge for Rowe: facing elite receivers in a game that actually counts. And really, Rowe could be one secondary injury away from getting a ton of snaps as an outside cornerback. To this point, he prefers playing outside, but he wants some more reps inside to gain comfort there, too.

“That’s a big test, a big jump,” Rowe said of the impending Atlanta game. “I’ve been watching those guys (Jones and White) for the last couple years and now having a chance to go against them, it’s a big test to see am I ready. Not really talent-wise, but mentally. They’re great receivers, but you can’t go out and be scared of them.”

Jeff McLane shares what he learned from last night’s loss.

8. Some decent players are going to be cut. The No. 1 guy I have getting plucked up by another team if he doesn’t make the cut is inside linebacker Najee Goode. He got off to a slow start in camp and the preseason, but has started to pop in the last two games. But the Eagles have so much depth at his position. Could they possible keep six inside linebackers? Maybe. Offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde should land with another team if he’s waived. Wide receiver Jeff Maehl hasn’t been here for two seasons based solely on his college.

9. There is still the potential for a few surprises. I don’t have offensive lineman Josh Andrews on the 53, but he could be this year’s Burton. The Eagles like him. He’s versatile and can play guard and center, and started ahead of Vandervelde against the Jets. It’s a long shot, but outside linebacker Diaheem Watkins may have a sliver of hope. But with Marcus Smith likely back no later than Week 2, the Eagles may not need to have five outside linebackers.


We’ll have plenty of updates throughout the day as the Eagles are expected to start trimming down the roster ahead of tomorrow’s 4 p.m. deadline.