The Philadelphia Eagles are in the heart of training camp now. They’ll begin their joint practices with the New England Patriots this week, before facing the team Thursday night for their second preseason contest.
The first preseason game against the Steelers had a lot of interesting tidbits, and gave us a glimpse at who this coaching staff has confidence in. The final 53-man roster is far from a foregone conclusion just yet, but we now have a better idea of what it may look like following last week’s preseason game.
Here are our 53-man roster predictions leading up to Week 2 of the preseason.
Quarterback (2): Jalen Hurts, Joe Flacco
Only two quarterbacks deserve a roster spot at this point. Jalen Hurts is going to be the starter, and after a rough start to camp, Joe Flacco proved last Thursday that he’s more than capable of being a viable backup. As for Nick Mullens, his first preseason outing was nothing short of miserable. He completed just one pass on five attempts, while tossing two interceptions and posting a passer rating of 0. The team could use the extra roster spot elsewhere, so cutting or placing Mullens on the practice squad seems like the way to go here.
Running Back (4): Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott
On my last 53-man roster prediction, I left Jordan Howard off in favor of Kerryon Johnson. After watching one preseason game, it’s clear this coaching staff values what Howard brings to the table, and perhaps I should have as well. He’s a veteran back who knows how to contribute even when the ball isn’t in his hands (i.e. blitz pickup in passing situations).
Johnson is very good in that department too, but he’s recently been diagnosed with a knee injury and there isn’t a timetable for his return. He’s dealt with knee issues in the past, so this will likely be a lingering problem. If it becomes clear that this injury will last into the regular season, or be a nagging issue throughout the year, it’s not worth giving him a roster spot over any of the other backs here in camp.
Wide Receiver (6): DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside
I’ve been reluctant to give JJAW this final roster spot at wideout all offseason, but it seems like this organization is intent on giving the former second round pick one more shot. He was playing special teams last Thursday, which is a good sign that he’ll likely earn that sixth and final spot. The rest of the wide receiving corps is pretty straight forward. Last year’s fifth round pick John Hightower has done little to nothing in training camp thus far, so he’ll need to have a big outing in these final two preseason games to have any hope of snagging that final spot from JJAW.
Tight End (3): Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Tyree Jackson
At this point, we know Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz are going to be on the opening day roster. I don’t see Ertz getting traded this far into camp. The change here comes at the third tight end spot, where I replaced veteran tight end Richard Rodgers with the young gun in Tyree Jackson. Rodgers is serviceable in his own right, but he doesn’t provide any upside. Jackson’s upside is endless and he can potentially be the heir apparent to Ertz once he’s gone. Trying to slip Jackson through waivers onto the practice squad isn’t worth the risk of losing him to another team. He looked good in his first preseason game and I expect him to get more work as the preseason continues.
Offensive Line (10): Jordan Mailata (LT), Isaac Seumalo (LG), Jason Kelce (C), Brandon Brooks (RG), Lane Johnson (RT), Andre Dillard, Landon Dickerson, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Le’Raven Clark
The starters along the offensive line are all set in stone here, along with the majority of their backups. The one major change here from my last roster predictions is Le’Raven Clark over Sua Opeta. Clark brings some good versatility to the line, which is a common theme among the backups. Opeta does not. Therefore, Clark gets this final spot on the offensive line depth chart. I know, ground breaking analysis on my part.
Defensive End (5): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Tarron Jackson
I typically included all the defensive lineman in one group on these roster predictions, but I wanted to split it up here for more clarity. The top-four of the group are set in stone, with rookie Tarron Jackson filling the final spot. He has some upside as a pass rusher and will be able to provide some nice depth from day one.
Defensive Tackle (5): Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Milton Williams, T.Y. McGill, Marlon Tuipulotu
Again, defensive tackle is pretty straight forward. I’m including T.Y. McGill here for the first time over Hassan Ridgeway. McGill has looked great in his limited time this preseason and reports out of camp indicate he’s been dominant there as well. I get that he’s already 27 years old, but he’s played well enough to earn that fourth interior line spot.
Linebacker (5): Eric Wilson, Alex Singleton, T.J. Edwards, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley
I almost included Genard Avery here, based on Jonathan Gannon’s apparent desire to have a pass rushing SAM in his defense. But Avery just doesn’t provide enough to earn a spot over some of these other guys. Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley will provide some nice depth.
Cornerback (6): Darius Slay, Steven Nelson, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Josiah Scott, Craig James
Despite the starting cornerback group being set in stone, the depth behind them is still up in the air. I’ve included Michael Jacquet on this list throughout the offseason, but his bad outing last Thursday gives me some doubt. Craig James is a more experienced corner who will contribute on special teams all year.
Safety (4): Anthony Harris, K’Von Wallace, Marcus Epps, Andrew Adams
There’s no indication that Rodney McLeod will be ready by Week 1, so he’ll likely start the year on the PUP list, allowing Andrew Adams to man one of the safety spots in the meantime. K’Von Wallace and Marcus Epps should be able to hold down the fort in McLeod’s absence.
Specialists (3): Arryn Siposs, Jake Elliot, Rick Lovato
The specialists on this roster haven’t had any competition this year, so what you see if what you get.
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