With training camp slowly creeping up on us, taking a look at who will and won’t make the final cut is always a fun exercise. Since the draft, the Eagles have stayed busy, making a handful or signings all the way up through OTAs.
So let’s get right into this edition of the Eagles 53-man roster predictions.
Quarterback: Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco, Nick Mullens
This one is pretty straight forward. Jalen Hurts is penciled in as the QB1 heading into the 2021 season, with veteran Joe Flacco backing him up.
After the recent waiving of undrafted rookie Jamie Newman, the team had to find another serviceable quarterback to fill that vacancy. They were able to find that with former 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, who actually started against the Eagles last season in their first victory of the season. He’s good enough to be a backup in this league, so getting him to be your QB3 is a savvy move by general manager Howie Roseman.
This position group is set in stone at this point, barring an unforeseen turn of events.
Running Back: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kerryon Johnson, Kenneth Gainwell
The battle for the final running back spot will be a fun one to watch during camp this year. The team made three additions to their backfield this offseason, signing both Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Howard, along with drafting Kenneth Gainwell in the fourth round.
Ultimately, I think Howard will be the odd man out. While he is a nice short yardage back, he doesn’t provide much play making ability outside of the occasional 10-yard burst through the middle. His receiving ability is so-so, and the Eagles already have four backs who are more effective in the passing game.
The Eagles running back group is one of the more promising position groups on the entire roster entering the 2021 season. It’ll be fun to watch them go to work this year.
Wide Receiver: DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, Quez Watkins
The Eagles are the midst of a youth movement with their wide receiving corps. The veteran of the group is Greg Ward, who will only be 26 years old heading into next season. Nonetheless, this group has a ton of potential, especially with a coach like Nick Sirianni at the helm.
The one notable absence here is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. After two pretty bad seasons in the NFL, and with a number of younger, more promising receivers on the roster, there just isn’t room for JJAW anymore. He’ll finish his Eagles career with 14 receptions for 254 yards and 1 touchdown. One of the worst draft picks of my lifetime.
Tight End: Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Richard Rodgers
Are you surprised to see Zach Ertz make the cut? At this point, I don’t think anyone should be shocked if Ertz ends up suiting up for the Eagles this season. If there was a trade partner out there who was willing to give up nice compensation for Ertz, he’d be gone. If the team desperately needed to shed his $8.5 million cap hit, he’d be gone. Neither of those have come to fruition and I don’t expect either of them to happen before training camp.
Dallas Goedert still slots in as the TE1, while Rodgers fills in the vacant TE3 role.
Offensive Line: Jordan Mailata (LT), Isaac Seumalo (LG), Jason Kelce (C), Brandon Brooks (RG), Lane Johnson (RT), Landon Dickerson, Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Sua Opeta
The Eagles offensive line is all but set in stone heading into training camp. We’ll have to wait to see how the left tackle battle between Mailata and Dillard plays out, but my money’s on Mailata to come out victorious.
As for the depth behind the projected starters, second round pick Landon Dickerson will be a valuable piece in his rookie season regardless if he starts or not. He has the ability to play every position along the line and will likely be the first man off the bench if any of the starters go down with an injury.
Dillard also provides great depth at left tackle, assuming he isn’t traded by the start of the season. It’s hard to predict what kind of trade value Dillard even has at this point, so holding onto him just in case of an emergency is the best course of action. Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, and Sua Opeta all filled in along the line last season. They’re fine depth pieces heading into the season.
Defensive Line: Brandon Graham (DE), Fletcher Cox (DT), Javon Hargrave (DT), Derek Barnett (DE), Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Milton Williams, Marlon Tuipulotu, Patrick Johnson
Like the offensive line, the Eagles defensive front is essentially set in stone heading into the year. Kerrigan and Sweat should be great as situational pass rushers off the bench, and expect rookie Milton Williams to slot in as the third defensive tackle behind Cox and Hargrave.
I decided to go with some other rookies to fill out the remaining spots on the line, defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu and Patrick Johnson. Hassan Ridgeway and T.Y. McGill are the safe choices here for defensive tackle depth, but at this point we know what they are. They’re nothing more than depth pieces, whereas Williams and Tuipulotu have the potential to be pivotal rotational tackles or even starters down the line.
Giving the final spot to Patrick Johnson may surprise some. He’s technically listed as a linebacker, but I imagine his role will be in the pass rushing department, so I included him here. There were a handful of other guys I could’ve gone with here — Tarron Jackson and Joe Ostman just to name a few.
The reason I went with Johnson is the same reason I selected the pair of rookie defensive tackles, he provides too much potential to keep him off the roster. We’ll get a better idea of what that potential is during the preseason, but as it stands now, I like his chances to earn a roster spot.
Linebackers: Eric Wilson (SAM), T.J. Edwards (MIKE), Alex Singleton (WILL), Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley
There isn’t much surprise here at the linebacker position. Eric Wilson and Alex Singleton figure to slot in as the primary backers in nickel sets, with T.J. Edwards coming in whenever they decide to go with three backers. Both Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley were drafted last year and haven’t really had the opportunity to prove themselves just yet, but they certainly have potential.
Cornerback: Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Michael Jacquet, Craig James, Josiah Scott
The cornerback position is by far the biggest liability on this team entering training camp. Darius Slay is the only legitimate starter of this group. Avonte Maddox should move into the nickel, which ideally will help his game, but the jury’s still out on that. Fourth round pick Zech McPhearson may be forced to start right away given the lack of depth at the position.
Michael Jacquet and Craig James will probably battle it out for the second corner spot alongside McPhearson once camp gets underway. May the best man win!
Josiah Scott will provide depth at the nickel and could potentially see the field if Maddox proves he still can’t cover.
Safety: Anthony Harris, Rodney McLeod, K’Von Wallace, Marcus Epps
Going with only four safeties seems a bit light, but that’s all the room the team will have if they construct the roster the way I have it.
Anthony Harris and Rodney McLeod should form a nice safety duo on the backend. McLeod has stated that he’ll be ready by Week 1 and I’ll take his word on it.
As for K’Von Wallace and Marcus Epps, they both saw playing time last year once McLeod was lost for the season. Gannon will likely run three-safety sets throughout the season, and these two are both solid candidates to fill that third safety role. I’d give Wallace the first opportunity since his skill set is more in line with that of a box safety.
Specialists: Jake Elliot (K), Arryn Siposs (P), Rick Lovato (LS)
It doesn’t appear the team will hold any competitions at the specialists positions this year during camp, so each of these guys will be the starters heading into the year.
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