Philadelphia Eagles: Let’s Take a Crack at the 53-man Roster


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We’ve signed. And we’ve traded. And we’ve drafted.

Now all we’ve got to do is camp. And cut.

And that brings me to today’s point: Who makes the Philadelphia Eagles’ 53-man roster?

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Like other teams, the Eagles currently have 90 guys. I won’t list them all, but feel free to reference the roster (via

Like other teams, the Eagles must cut that group down to a svelte 53 by the time the season begins. Talent matters. Contracts matter. Positions matter. Many of the spots are pretty well cemented. And, perhaps more in Philly than in a lot of other places, many others are way up in the air.

(Note: The guys whose names are in ALL CAPS are guys I consider bubble players: guys who could very easily not make the 53-man roster.)

Quarterback (3): Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, TIM TEBOW

Heck of a group of college quarterbacks. Very possibly the best group of college quarterbacks ever assembled on an NFL roster.

Shame this isn’t college.

Eagles’ fans are being a tad… what do I want to say here? Illogical? Let’s go with that… about the quarterback situation in Philadelphia.

In 2013, Nick Foles played brilliantly. The team went 10-6.

In 2014 Nick Foles was fine. Mark Sanchez was equally fine. And the team went 10-6.

Mark Sanchez is back. With, ostensibly, and even better grasp of the offense than he had last year.

I’m not saying the Eagles are set at quarterback. But there’s no cliff. They Eagles quarterback situation, barring injury to both Bradford and Sanchez, should be no worse than it was in 2014. When the team went 10-6. And when the offensive line was in shambles for half the year. And when the running game was terribly inconsistent. And when the secondary was to blame for at least four of those losses.

If you weren’t panicking in 2014? There’s no reason to panic now.

In fact? There’s reason to be hopeful. Because if Sam Bradford is healthy? He’s easily the most talented quarterback we’ve yet to see under Chip Kelly. And given that Kelly has made every quarterback that’s played for him look a lot better than he ever, previously, had… the prospect is exciting.

As for the third spot? I’m going with Tebow simply because Matt Barkley makes no sense. He’s looked awful in his very limited time in games. His skill-set seems to have nothing to do with Chip Kelly. And he has none of the ‘fun’ factor that Tebow could have being used on special teams or in goal-line sets.

If Tebow winds up as the man under center in Philly? Then it’s time to panic.

Running Back (4): DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Matthew Tucker

In the past, Chip Kelly has opted to roster three runningbacks and four tight ends to start the season. But James Casey is gone and the known-commodity that was LeSean McCoy has been replaced with less-well-known commodities in DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. I think the Eagles will hedge their bets and roster a fourth back.

Tucker is a talented player whose size and style makes him more conducive to what I think Chip Kelly is looking for in a back: Bigger guys who run forward. He will, barring injuries, get very few snaps. But he, like Chris Polk before him, could be the kind of guy that makes the most of them when they come.

Wide Receiver (6): Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, MILES AUSTIN, SEYI AJIROTUTU

This position will be incredibly interesting to watch as camp unfolds. Who will make the roster? Unknown. Who will actually play in the games? Unknown. Where will they line up? Unknown.

I believe this is the group because Austin and Ajirotutu were strategic additions by the Eagles.

Ajirotutu (signed in April) was a special teams ace for the Chargers in 2014 and Chip Kelly loves his special teams specialists (Maragos, Braman, Prosinski…)

Austin was added after Maclin left for Kansas City because, I believe, Kelly looked around and realized there wasn’t a respected veteran on the roster at what promises to be an extremely inexperienced position.

Matthews, Agholor, Cooper, and Huff will likely take the bulk of the receiver snaps for the Eagles in 2015, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Austin ended up outpacing Huff and Cooper in both opportunity and production. Of course, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Austin got hurt and missed twelve games. Such is the 2015 Philadelphia Eagles’ roster.

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

I don’t see much wiggle room here. Casey is gone and the only other tight ends in camp will be three undrafted rookies. Of course injury is the great unknown and one of those three guys might have to make the team. But, barring that, I think this is the group.

It should be noted that the three rookies are better blockers than pass catchers and that should be a not-so-subtle message to Zach Ertz that he must improve his blocking if he’s going to settle in as the main tight end when 30-year old Brent Celek is finished.

Burton is an exciting young pass catching tight end. But he’s no blocker.

Celek is. And that’s why he’s on the field a lot more than Ertz.

Offensive Line (9): Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis, Lane Johnson, Andrew Gardner, Matt Tobin, David Molk, COLE MANHART

Eight or nine will be the big question here. Or maybe the big question will be: Does Evan Mathis report? Is he traded?

I am guessing Mathis is an Eagle in 2015. Just for the sake of ease. And if he is I think the starting five is incredibly strong with Allen Barbre replacing Todd Herremans and everything else staying the same.

Gardner and Tobin provide solid depth and can move inside or out (I like Gardner as a tackle and Tobin as a guard).

Molk is your insurance policy at center.

And Manhart is a guy I think might emerge in camp among the rookie undrafted free agents that the Eagles have brought in. I think given the Eagles advanced age along the line and given the uncertainty with Mathis’ situation? It would behoove them to keep one of these young guys around.

So, there’s the offense. 25 spots down.

Defensive Line (6): Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Vinny Curry, TAYLOR HART

I don’t see a lot of movement among the tackles: Logan and Allen will likely have those spots locked up. But the depth at defensive end will come down to some hard fought battles in camp and in the preseason. I could see rookie 7th rounder Brian Mihalik or Brandon Bair taking Hart’s spot. I could also see two of the three making the team and losing a player somewhere else.

Linebacker (9): Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso, Marcus Smith, Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Hicks, NAJEE GOODE, BRAD JONES

Mychal Kendricks’ name has been discussed in trade talks. If he’s dealt during camp for 2016 picks or for a veteran at another position, then Emmanuel Acho, Bryan Braman, and Travis Long have much better shots at making the team.

Braman is a tremendous special teams player and it will be very difficult to cut him loose. But with Brad Jones‘ ability to play inside or outside and his own special teams ability he becomes a more valuable piece.

Goode is, pun unintended, too good to lose inside given the injury history of Ryans and Alonso.

Cornerback (6): Byron Maxwell, Walter Thurmond, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll, Eric Rowe, JaCorey Shepherd

It makes a lot of sense to start Eric Rowe at corner. If he excels? Great. You have a pair of terrific corners. If he struggles? Move him to safety. Either way? He’s getting a year of experience that will help him wherever he lands.

This group, odd as it might sound, feels safe to me. I think E.J. Biggers is a tough cut and is the next guy up if something happens to one of these players in camp.

Randall Evans is a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Earl Wolff, Jaylen Watkins, Chris Maragos

There are intriguing options on the roster like Chris Prosinski (for his special teams ability) and Jerome Couplin (for his ideal size to play safety.) But I only see one of those guys making the team if the Eagles keep five safeties.

And Eric Rowe’s long-term projection as a potential safety gives the Eagles some added depth at the position.

Watkins moves to safety for good. If he’s not ready to do that? He won’t be on the team.

And there’s the defense. 25 more spots taken.

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

No surprises here.

And that’s 53!

My first reaction to this roster is?


There are guys it hurts to lose. And that’s exactly the position you want to be in when making these cuts. I hate to see Bryan Braman, Chris Prosinski, and E.J. Biggers go: They are such tremendous special teams assets. But Brad Jones and Seyi Ajirotutu fill those holes and play positions where it makes more sense to have depth.

I hate to see a guy like Brian Mihalik (full of potential) miss the cut. And I hope he’s on the practice squad.

I also hate to see Travis Long go. Before his injury last year he looked like someone that could truly surprise.

The reality is that not all of the players named here will make it out of camp unscathed. The other reality is that other teams will be forced to cut players loose that might be welcome additions for the Eagles. The final reality is that some of the unknown players (rookies, new additions) will either ingratiate themselves to Kelly and his staff or stumble out of the gate. And part of the fun of camp is that we have no idea, today, who will do what.

In other words: If I correctly predicted all 53 spots here, someone ought to hire me as a GM.

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