Two preseason games in, here is the final roster prediction for the Eagles

Post originally appeared on Pro Sports Notes

August 19, 2019

Image: Brian Skversky via Flickr

Two preseason games in, here is the final roster prediction for the Eagles

Two preseason games in, here is the final roster prediction for the Eagles

Posted on August 19, 2019

After two preseason games, certain players have started to stick out. Aside from the guaranteed guys like Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox, Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz, etc., the rest of the roster still needs to be shaped. In theory, 53 men on a final roster is a lot. However, when the majority of them are already decided, there are only 15 or so undecided spots.

Additionally, there can be 10 players signed to the practice squad after final cuts for the 53-man roster. However, those players can only spend up to three seasons on a practice squad and can not have more than four players accruing more than two seasons in the NFL.

With that, there are over 1,000 players around the NFL that will be cut before September 1st. Here are the players who I think will make the final roster for the Eagles.

Three quarterbacks will make the final roster

Getting the easy stuff out of the way to start, there will be three quarterbacks on the Eagles 53-man roster. Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, and Josh McCown will make the final roster.

After a rough time in his first preseason game, the second was much kinder to Clayton Thorson. He showed his ability to make accurate throws, and it would be extremely interesting to see him with proven/reliable receivers, but I think he ends up on the practice squad to develop further. He has some stuff, but if a backup needs to step in, Thorson isn’t the guy just yet. The Eagles signed McCown today after losing Cody Kessler on Thursday.

The Eagles rarely carry three quarterbacks on the roster. However, since they will need a backup until Sudfeld is recovered from a broken wrist, they will keep three: Wentz, Sudfeld, and McCown.

QB Depth:

  • Carson Wentz
  • Nate Sudfeld
  • Josh McCown

Three special teamers who need no introduction or explanation

All three of the Eagles special teamers from last season will return. There’s no need for a change there. Kicker, Jake Elliott, will return for a third season after getting an extension in the offseason. He showed once again that he’s automatic from distance against the Jaguars on Thursday. Snapping to him once again will be Rick Lovato, and holding/booming punts will be Cameron Johnston.

The Eagles top three out of five running backs are self-explanatory

The top three running backs on the roster are self-explanatory: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and Darren Sproles. The team needed a good between-the-tackles back who runs extremely hard, and they got that in Howard.

Taking Sanders in the second round will pay off big time for the Birds. He could end up being one of the best if not the best running back that came out of the 2019 draft class. He’s shown he can do everything: run between the tackles, bounce outside, pick up a blitz, and catch the ball out of the backfield. Keep an eye on him for the Rookie of the Year race.

Sproles took a little bit longer to make a decision on the season, but Doug Pederson made it very known that there was always a spot for Sproles on the roster if he wanted it. Sproles wants to go out on his own terms, and when he returned from the hamstring injury last season, he was just as shifty and quick as ever. From watching him in camp, he’s still as much of a weapon as he’s always been, regardless of his age.

The last two running back spots are more up for grabs

The last two spots are interesting. I think they take a total of five because of potential injury. They’ve taken five the last few years. All five won’t always be dressed, but for emergency cases, they will need more.

I think they’ll keep Corey Clement as a significant role player. Clement is extremely versatile when it comes to offense and special teams. Additionally, he was excellent in his role during the Super Bowl season, but when asked to do something different it wasn’t as effective. With other backs in front of him, he can go back to his role and be extremely successful. Reports have also said he looks extremely nimble upon returning from his knee injury.

For the last spot, it needs to be someone else who can have an impact on special teams or step into a role if need be. Realistically, I think the decision comes between Donnel Pumphrey and Boston Scott. At least I think the Eagles want the final decision to be between the two. Pumphrey has been with the practice squad for the last two seasons after having disappointing training camps. The Eagles traded up in the 4th round of the 2017 draft to nab the back, and they don’t like wasting draft picks. Pumphrey impressed on Thursday night against the Jaguars. On the other hand, Scott was handling all of the return duties and didn’t really do anything spectacular. I think Pumphrey wins that final spot finally.

RBs:

  • Jordan Howard
  • Miles Sanders
  • Darren Sproles
  • Corey Clement
  • Donnel Pumphrey

A stacked receiving corps will carry six players

Again, there are a few automatic final roster spots filled here for the 53-man. Alshon Jeffery is the number one receiver in this offense. Even with the unfortunate ending to last season, Jeffery has some of the most reliable hands in the NFL. The Eagles don’t win a Super Bowl without him and let’s not forget he played that whole season with a torn rotator cuff.

Secondly, DeSean Jackson returns in an Eagles uniform for the first time since 2013. He’s looking to finish out his career in midnight green and get the ring he deserves.

Third, Nelson Agholor is looking to build on the reliability he established in 2017. He’s speedy and can be used in multiple situations like some of the trick plays we’ve seen implemented.

The fourth receiver to make the roster will be 2nd round pick JJ Arcega-Whiteside. He’s got extremely good hands and he’s a constant jump-ball threat. In red-zone situations, he has an advantage over most corners especially when the Eagles have so many weapons to defend already.

The last two spots, again, are where it gets interesting. I think Mack Hollins will make the roster because of his special teams play as well. He can be an active player because he adds so much to special teams. His injury last season was unfortunate and the absence of him on special teams was apparent.

For the final spot, I think this is the year that Greg Ward makes an NFL roster. He’s proven he deserves a final roster spot in this league. His catch and run on 4th down against the Jaguars was extremely impressive, and it isn’t the first of its kind.

WRs:

  • Alshon Jeffery
  • DeSean Jackson
  • Nelson Agholor
  • JJ Arcega-Whiteside
  • Mack Hollins
  • Greg Ward

The Eagles will need at least nine offensive linemen on their roster

This is one of the more interesting positions to discuss. The Eagles have one hell of a starting offensive line if everyone is healthy. Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson are all roster locks. It still isn’t clear if Brooks will be ready for week one. If not, there are some decent backup options for the Birds.

When it comes to my prediction for the Eagles, I think there’s a really good chance they move Vaitai before the season starts. So the backup guard will be Stefan Wisniewski. Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard have both shown that in emergency situations they could absolutely be viable backup options. Dillard has put on clinics over the last two preseason games, and Mailata showed serious improvement since last season.

Lastly, the Eagles just signed military member Brett Toth to a three-year contract. Since the contract is worth three years, he will make the roster.

OL:

  • Jason Peters
  • Isaac Seumalo
  • Jason Kelce
  • Brandon Brooks
  • Lane Johnson
  • Andre Dillard
  • Stefan Wisniewski
  • Jordan Mailata
  • Brett Toth

The tight-end position is pretty self-explanatory with three

Obviously, the first two tight-ends are going to dominate in most situations. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert will be two of the leagues top tight-ends this season.

For the third spot, it’s a conversation between Josh Perkins and Richard Rodgers. The Eagles signed Rodgers last season, but he returned in the latter part of the season after a knee injury kept him out. Currently, Rodgers is dealing with a foot injury that was originally given a day-to-day timeline, but he hasn’t practiced since August 3.

Based on that I think Perkins makes the roster.

TEs:

  • Zach Ertz
  • Dallas Goedert
  • Josh Perkins

On the defensive side of the final roster, there will be ten linemen

The defensive line has been one of the most talked-about positions on the Eagles roster in terms of depth questions. However, I think the first two games of the preseason have begun to answer those questions.

For the interior, Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, and Tim Jernigan are making the roster. After last season and during this preseason, Treyvon Hester proved he deserves a rotational roster spot. Jim Schwartz’s defense is all about rotating and keeping guys fresh. Hester could fill in next to a Jackson/Jernigan/Cox and create pressure.

On the edges, the Eagles will keep Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, and fill the last two spots with less experienced players. They expect Barnett to be a big piece of their defensive scheme and rightfully so. Additionally, the Eagles expect Josh Sweat to take a step forward and become a high-level threat off the edge, again for some rotational depth. Daeshon Hall is another player that’s shown he belongs on the roster based on the end of last season and this preseason. He is constantly creating pressure around the quarterback.

The last player that will make the defensive line roster is Shareef Miller. Miller is a local kid from North Philly who the Eagles drafted in the 4th round. Although he hasn’t had an overly impressive camp, he showed some good things against the Jags. Again, the Eagles also don’t like wasting draft picks, so Miller will stay around.

DT:

  • Fletcher Cox
  • Malik Jackson
  • Tim Jernigan
  • Treyvon Hester

DE:

  • Brandon Graham
  • Derek Barnett
  • Daeshon Hall
  • Josh Sweat
  • Vinny Curry
  • Shareef Miller

Five linebackers will make the final roster for now

The injury to Kamu Grugier-Hill throws off the linebacking corps in a big way. The Eagles were looking for him to take a big step forward especially after being a captain for special teams last season. He shouldn’t miss too much time, but I think that opens the door for a young guy to step up.

Nigel Bradham handled duties in the middle really well last season, so obviously, he will make the roster. Additionally, signing Zach Brown and LJ Fort wasn’t for nothing so they will stay too.

I think the last spot will go to undrafted rookie TJ Edwards. He’s done some nice things through his first two preseason games. Additionally, he could be an asset on special teams especially in the absence of KGH. He was highly rated coming out of college and it was shocking to many that he wasn’t drafted. He could be a really good asset to the Eagles going forward.

LBs:

  • Kamu Grugier-Hill
  • Nigel Bradham
  • Zach Brown
  • LJ Fort
  • TJ Edwards

Nine guys will go into the defensive backfield

Injuries have made this spot a more interesting conversation than it probably should have been. Rodney McLeod and Ronald Darby are progressing well from injuries and look like they’ll be ready for week one. Jalen Mills still hasn’t progressed too far and Cre’Von LeBlanc suffered an injury extremely early in camp. For the CB/S positions, the PUP list will come into play.

For the PUP list, any player starting there in the preseason can come off at any time, but they count toward the 90-man roster. During the regular season, they can’t come off the PUP for the first six weeks, and at that point must be made active, cut, traded, or placed on IR. Additionally, they do not count against the 53-man roster. At this point, I think Mills and LeBlanc may both start the season on the PUP list.

The safeties other than McLeod will be Malcolm Jenkins (obviously), Andrew Sendejo, and Jonathan Cyprien for depth.

Also in the defensive backfield, there have been several players showing really good things through camp. Rasul Douglas has earned his spot on this team from turning everyone’s head during camp. He’s been effective during his playing time over the last three seasons, but it’s noticeable he wants that starting spot and I think he’s earned a rotational role at minimum. Additionally, last season it was clear the Eagles got a steal in Avonte Maddox, and we’re still waiting on the emergence of Sidney Jones. Orlando Scandrick will also make the final roster for depth.

CB/S

  • Malcolm Jenkins
  • Rodney McLeod
  • Andrew Sendejo
  • Jonathan Cyprien
  • Ronald Darby
  • Sidney Jones
  • Avonte Maddox
  • Rasul Douglas
  • Orlando Scandrick
  • Jalen Mills (PUP)
  • Cre’Von LeBlanc (PUP)
Featured Image: Brian Skversky via flickr
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