An early prediction of the Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster

Obviously it’s way too early to know exactly who’s going to make the Eagles 53-man roster, but it’s fun to predict and debate, so I’m making my own prediction as to who I think is going to make it. I will break it down by position and list each guy who makes it and who is left out, as well as explanations for each position group. Here’s what I came up with:

Quarterback

Keep: Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow
Cut: Matt Barkley

Bradford and Sanchez are essentially locks to make the roster, although it really hasn’t been made official who will be the Week 1 starter. Sanchez worked a lot with the first team in minicamp, but Bradford is still recovering and is likely in line to start at QB when they take the field against the Falcons for their first game. Their third-string quarterback situation isn’t exactly a good one, but the ineffectiveness of Barkley is likely enough to land him on the streets, even if it means Tebow makes the team. Barkley hasn’t improved in the slightest since being drafted in the fourth round in 2013, and Kelly seems to be at least high enough on Tebow to sign him, which is saying something. This is one spot that could easily change, but I think keeping Barkley around for another year is a waste of time.

Running Back

Keep: DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles
Cut: Kenjon Barner, Matthew Tucker, Raheem Mostert

Despite having multiple young, talented running backs in camp, I believe the Eagles will only keep three RBs for the second year in a row. Murray, Matthews and Sproles are the obvious choices and are definitely going to make the team. Tucker looked good in preseason last year, and Barner has kick returning abilities (plus he went to Oregon). Mostert can return kicks too, but I don’t think any of these three have enough to make the actual team. I could see Barner and/or Tucker making the practice squad though.

Wide Receiver

Keep: Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper, Josh Huff, Nelson Agholor, Seyi Ajirotutu, Miles Austin
Cut: Rasheed Bailey, Devante Davis, John Harris, Jeff Maehl, Quron Pratt

The first four guys I listed are obvious keepers. Well, maybe not Cooper in terms of skill, but I doubt he’s getting cut as the Eagles would lose money in the transaction. Ajirotutu is great at special teams, and Austin was given guaranteed money, so it’d be strange to see him cut. Apparently, Bailey and Davis looked pretty good in minicamp, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them on the practice squad. As for Maehl, I hope this is the end of his Eagles career. He’s worthless.

Tight End

Keep: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton
Cut: Andrew Gleichert, Eric Tomlinson, Justin Tukes

I think the 2015 tight end situation will be similar to last year’s: Ertz keeps increasing his snaps and Celek keeps decreasing his, paving the way for Ertz to eventually be the top dog. Burton excelled at special teams last year and should step in as the “James Casey” role. He won’t be needed too much on offense, but he’s still a valuable player. I don’t think any of the three undrafted rookies have much of a shot.

Offensive Line

Keep: Jason Kelce, David Molk, Julian Vandervelde, Allen Barbre, Andrew Gardner, Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Matt Tobin
Cut: Josh Andrews, Malcolm Bunche, Mike Coccia, Brett Boyko, Kevin Graf, Dennis Kelly, Cole Manhart, Jared Wheeler

With the subtractions of Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis, two new guys will be stepping in as the starting guards, but I’m guessing that’ll be guys who are already on the roster. For those two slots, it’ll be Barbre and either Gardner or Tobin. Either way, I don’t think any new faces are making it onto this roster at this point. This could definitely change, as guys like Molk or Vandervelde may be switched out for Wheeler or Kelly, but at this point, this is where I think everyone stands. Kelly has been sub-par whenever he gets in, and after three seasons, I think it’s time to cut ties with him. I’m sure multiple guys who are cut will end up making the practice squad though.

Defensive Ends

Keep: Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Taylor Hart
Cut: Frances Mays, Brian Mihalik

Cox and Thornton will likely be the starting duo, with Curry (hopefully) getting a lot of snaps as well in passing downs. Bair filled in as the fourth guy last year, and although he’s already 30, I expect him to make the team as well. I really don’t think adding Hard to the roster helps them at all, but he’s an Oregon guy and was only drafted last year, so maybe Kelly has a plan for him. He’s one guy that could be surprise cut. The two guys I left out, both 6-foot-9, probably won’t make the team. Mihalik was the team’s seventh round pick this past draft and will have a better chance at making the practice squad.

Defensive Tackles

Keep: Bennie Logan, Beau Allen
Cut: Wade Keliikipi, Travis Raciti

They don’t have many nose tackles on the team, but I think Logan and Allen should suffice. Logan is underrated and Allen stepped in well as a backup last year despite being just a seventh round pick. I don’t know much about Keliikipi and Raciti, but at this point, I don’t think they’ll make the team.

Outside Linebackers

Keep: Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Travis Long, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman
Cut: Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo

The Eagles’ group of outside linebackers is a bit thin, but I still think they keep five of the six guys. Barwin and Graham are the starters with Long and Smith as the backups. Smith will need to actually make an impact in training camp if he wants to make the team though, as I could see them cutting him if he has a poor outing. They seem to be high on Long after he missed all of last season with a torn ACL, so I think he’ll make it. Braman was excellent at special teams last year and should continue in that role in 2015. As for DeWalt-Ondijo, I don’t think he has a chance.

Inside Linebackers

Keep: Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Najee Goode, Jordan Hicks
Cut: Emmanuel Acho, Brad Jones, Brandon Hepburn

This could easily be the team’s deepest position after it was one of their weakest last year. With the additions of Alonso and Hicks and with Ryans and Goode returning from injuries, they’re stacked here. It will be tough to pick which guys to keep, but I think Acho and Jones will be left out when it’s all said and done. Jones is solid at special teams, but not enough to warrant keeping him over someone like Goode. Hicks will make it strictly because he was the team’s third round pick. Acho could be one of the more surprising cuts on the team.

Cornerbacks

Keep: Byron Maxwell, Nolan Carroll, Eric Rowe, Brandon Boykin, Jaylen Watkins, JaCorey Shepherd
Cut: E.J. Biggers, Randall Evans, Denzel Rice

It seems like Carroll is the favorite to start alongside Maxwell once the season starts, although things can definitely change. Rowe was their second round pick and should fill in as Carroll’s role last year. Boykin is a top slot cornerback in the league and should continue to be used there, with Watkins filling in as a “wild card” guy who can also play safety. I don’t think Biggers makes the team, he’s nothing special. I think either Shepherd or Evans will make the team and the other will make the practice squad. As of now, I think Shepherd is ahead.

Safeties

Keep: Malcolm Jenkins, Walter Thurmond, Jerome Couplin, Chris Maragos
Cut: Earl Wolff, Chris Prosinski, Ed Reynolds

In one of the more surprising moves of recent practices, Thurmond was moved to safety and is the favorite to start alongside Jenkins. This will definitely help his chances of making the team and getting solid playing time. Maragos is also a lock for his exceptional special teams play, but that fourth spot will be a battle between four guys. I’m putting Couplin in there for now, but I really think any of them have a shot. Wolff is probably closest to beating him out, and Reynolds is probably furthest. If Reynolds doesn’t make the team, he’ll probably end up on the practice squad again. Wolff needs to actually get on the field if he wants to make the team, because based on the last time he played in regular season games, he was not that good.

Kickers

Keep: Cody Parkey
Cut: none

Parkey has this one locked up, barring an injury or something else unexpected. There isn’t even another kicker on the roster at this point. He had a great rookie year in 2014 and should continue to do well.

Punters

Keep: Donnie Jones
Cut: Kip Smith

It would probably take a miracle for Smith to beat out the former All-Pro punter in Jones. I think this one’s in the bag as well.

Long Snappers

Keep: Jon Dorenbos
Cut: none

As with the other special teams positions, I’d be shocked to see Dorenbos lose his job here. He won’t even have to compete for his spot, he can just keep on doing his magic tricks.

It’s clearly too early to tell for some of these guys, but this is what I decided on. I’m sure this will change as training camp comes and goes, but based on what I’ve seen and heard from these guys, I think this is pretty accurate. About five more weeks and we’ll see another round of Eagles practices, this time in pads.

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