McManus: Final 53-Man Projection
Teams must trim their rosters down to 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday. Time to submit our final projections for the Eagles.
Sheil will post his take in a bit. Here’s mine:
Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley.
Chip Kelly feels like he has at least two NFL-caliber quarterbacks on the roster, and possibly three. Maybe so, but “NFL-caliber” doesn’t get you much in this league. You need above average play from your signal-callers if you really want to go somewhere. Vick will get the first crack at running Kelly’s offense. Foles is just an injury away from getting his chance.
A reminder that Dennis Dixon still has some practice squad eligibility remaining. He can be of some value there.
Running backs (3): LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.
Kelly recently said that he would put this grouping up against any trio in the league. The upside is definitely there. The two main questions are: Can Brown hold onto the ball? And can Polk stay healthy? If the answer to both questions is yes, then Kelly might be right. I’m guessing Matthew Tucker finds his way onto the practice squad.
Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Greg Salas, Russell Shepard.
Six seems like a lot to me. But the bottom of the roster is just thin, and this is what I keep coming back to.
If it comes down to Salas and Shepard, it really depends what you’re after. If you want a more polished player who could provide a little more production this season, Salas is your man. If you want to hold onto a prospect that could bloom down the road, then you give the spot to Shepard.
I haven’t seen enough out of Jeff Maehl or Ifeanyi Momah to give them serious consideration.
Tight ends (4): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Clay Harbor.
I just don’t see Kelly keeping less than four tight ends. He has already shown a four tight-end look this preseason. They are a big part of his offense. Harbor might not be a great tight end or receiver, but the fact that he can be presented as both is likely attractive to Kelly.
Offensive linemen (9): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Danny Watkins, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde.
I have Watkins making it, but I’m not sold. Barbre has replaced him as the primary backup at guard, looks like. I would not be at all surprised if they decided to hand his roster spot to Michael Bamiro or Matt Tennant or Dallas Reynolds. Or anyone, really. Kelly likes versatile players, and Watkins has only played guard this preseason.
But I’ll take a stab and say the Eagles give him one last crack at it. His $1.1 million base salary is guaranteed anyway, so why not?
Defensive linemen (7): Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Damion Square, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers.
It appears the Eagles have some decent depth here. Kelly would like to keep six defensive linemen active on game day. Count Cox, Sopoaga, Thornton, Logan and Curry in that group, and add either Square or Geathers depending on performance or preference.
Tough to see David King making the cut. Joe Kruger seems like a good practice squad candidate.
Outside linebackers (4): Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Chris McCoy.
Barwin is the only player in this group with NFL regular-season experience at outside linebacker. That can’t make Billy Davis very comfortable. The Eagles will keep an eye on the open market to see if they can bolster the position. They recently traded for Adrian Robinson, but I don’t think he’s the answer.
Inside linebackers (4): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jake Knott, Emmanuel Acho.
How dare I disrespect the Acho by keeping him off my initial projected roster. He was all over the place against the Jets.OK, it was a meaningless game against backups, but he was better than the guys he is competing against. And he led the team or was tied for the lead in tackles in three of the four preseason games.
Casey Matthews has the whole Oregon connection thing going for him. He’s right on the bubble for me, but I’m leaving him off.
Cornerbacks (5): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, Jordan Poyer.
This unit is razor-thin following the hand injuries to Hughes and Curtis Marsh. With the starters resting, Kurt Coleman even saw some time at corner against New York. The Eagles recently worked out Robert Steeples and will continue to be on the hunt for help. It’s a good bet that this group looks different by the start of the season.
Poyer has not shown a whole lot but will make the team based on potential and need.
Safeties (5): Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson, Kurt Coleman.
Chung was the only safety to get the night off against the Jets. Allen and Wolff both started. It looks like the competition for the other starting safety spot is coming down to the wire.
Chances are, the tandem that starts this season will not be together for all 16. There will probably be some mixing and matching. Might as well have some options, even if they aren’t great ones.
Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos.
Henery has settled in after a slow start to camp.
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