A tough preseason is coming to an end for the defending Super Bowl Champions this Thursday against the New York Jets. After that, teams have to be down to their 53-man rosters by 4 p.m. Saturday. Here’s a projection of what the Eagles’ 53-man roster to begin 2018 may look like.
Quarterback (3): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld
Obviously nothing earth shattering here – Wentz is your starter, with the Super Bowl MVP behind him, followed by an improved Sudfeld.
Running Back (4): Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Josh Adams
After a rather anti-climatic position battle, Adams arguably had the best camp of all the other running backs not named Ajyai, Sproles, or Clement. Sure he missed a game, but he was still the healthiest, and showed the most promise. The undrafted rookie free agent from Notre Dame showed he’s a powerful runner in between the tackles and is a threat catching the ball out of the backfield.
Wendell Smallwood has had plenty of opportunities to impress and hasn’t, plus he’s had a number of injury issues during his time with the Eagles. Matt Jones was hurt and made rookie mistakes in the games he played.
Wide Receiver (6): Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Shelton Gibson, Mack Hollins, DeAndre Carter
No one can say enough about the camp Shelton Gibson had this summer, and it showed in the preseason games. Gibson improved his catching ability, and really displayed that 4.5 speed. He particularly started turning heads after a great camp as a kick returner, and did so in a few games too.
Carter really came on late in camp and carried it over to the preseason games, making some big catches at receiver, and was one of the lone bright spots for the Eagles offense all preseason, especially against the Patriots and Browns. He also showed he can be an asset as a punt returner.
Tight End (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Godert, Richard Rodgers
It was a good preseason for this year’s second-round pick in Goedert, coming as advertised. Rodgers will bring some veteran experience as well.
Offensive Line (9): Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Pryor, Darrell Greene
What stands out here is this year’s sixth round pick in Pryor making it in this projection. The TCU product was fairly consistent throughout camp, and played pretty well in the preseason.
Vaitai did struggle this preseason, but after the way he stepped up last year, hopefully some more coaching will have him ready to step up and play better. Seumalo could be someone who may get cut depending on when guys come back from the NFI list. He was pretty awful as the Eagles moved him to center. But because he’s a third-round pick, Seumalo will continue getting chances to improve for now.
Defensive Line (9): Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Haloti Ngata, Chris Long, Steven Means, Destiny Vaeo, Josh Sweat
***NFI: Tim Jernigan (does not count against the 53-man roster, but he’ll be back after Week 6)
This is easily the best position group on the team and will win games for the Eagles this year. The rookie Sweat had his best game against Cleveland.
Linebacker (6): Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nathan Gerry, Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Joe Walker, LaRoy Williams
In a prediction, Grugier-Hill wins a close battle for the starting WILL spot. Williams quietly had a pretty good preseason, especially on special teams.
Cornerback (6): Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, De’Vante Bausby
For another prediction, Jones wins the nickel job by a hair. Definitely a lot of depth with this position too as Maddox and Bausby battled hard with the Eagles 2017 second-round pick. Though he had an up-and-down preseason, Douglas has proven he can step up when needed.
Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Corey Graham
No surprises here, as this is another solid position group. Still an outside chance Maragos starts the season on either the NFI or PUP list, but sounds like he’ll be ready for Week 1.
Special (3): Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, Rickey Lovato
It was a little surprising the Eagles didn’t bring in another kicker for Johnston, who’s entering his first full season as the punter. He still has to continue improving his directional kicking, but there’s no doubt Johnston has a leg.
Practice Squad (10): Donnel Pumphrey, Christian Hackenburg, Bryce Treggs, Jordan Mailata, Taylor Hart, Greg Ward, Rashard Davis, Jeremy Reaves, Aziz Shittu, D.J. Killings
This projection is solely based on who didn’t make the cut from the Eagles roster. There’s a good chance the Eagles will lose some of the guys through waivers and will bring players in through waivers from other teams.
But for the sole purpose of this exercise, Hackenburg is listed as a guy the Eagles possibly may want to try to work with and develop more, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the Eagles go a different direction and bring in another QB. They may try to keep Pumphrey because he was a fourth-round pick and continue coaching him up. And for whatever reason, the Eagles love Taylor Hart.