Now that almost everyone has cleared waivers and practice squads have been formed, it seems like the Eagles’ roster is essentially what it’s going to be going into Week 1. As always there were some surprises, but nothing earth-shattering or even that surprising other than the trade that sent Sam Bradford to the Vikings just a few days before the season started. Here I’ll break down each position group and what I thought about who was ultimately selected.
Carson Wentz, Chase Daniel
This looks a bit different than it did just a week ago. The Eagles traded the assumed starter in Bradford to the Vikings for a first-round pick in 2017 and a fourth-round pick in 2018. Not a bad haul for a guy who has never been to the playoffs or even had a really good season. Obviously, he was set to likely have a better season in Philly than last year, but after switching teams again and having so little time to transition, it’s going to be very different. Many more teams are only going with two quarterbacks on their main roster and keeping one on the practice squad to make room in other position groups. However, considering these two guys have almost zero combined regular season experience, it’ll be interesting to see how long it’s just these two guys on the roster. And now that Wentz has been named the Week 1 starter, it cements Daniel in as the No. 2 guy, even with Bradford gone. This was possibly the craziest change in position group compared to my last roster prediction.
Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood
As most expected, they went with four RBs because of the various roles each guy plays. Smallwood has probably fallen to fourth on the depth chart for now with how well Barner played this preseason and how long Smallwood was hurt. Sproles will continue to operate as the third-down and receiving back while Mathews is the main guy. This isn’t really that bad of a group as long as Mathews is healthy, but if he goes down, it sees a severe decline in skill and NFL experience.
Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Josh Huff, Bryce Treggs
This is a whole lot different of a group than I thought it’d be when I predicted the 53-man team in May. The additions of Green-Beckham via trade and Treggs from the waiver wire gave them a big-bodied and speedy target, respectively. Agholor looked a little better than last year, but I still don’t expect him to do much this year. And Huff remains on the team likely because of his kick returning ability. This also isn’t that bad of a group, as I’m quite high on Green-Beckham’s upside. With him and Agholor on the outside and Matthews in the slot, that’s at least an OK trio for this year. I’ll be interested to see where Treggs fits in.
Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton
For a while I thought the Eagles would go with Chris Pantale as the fourth tight end, but his three drops in Week 4 of the preseason were his death sentence as he was cut and not even added to the practice squad. This is a really good group of players. It still remains to be seen if Ertz will have a breakout year, but if it doesn’t happen this year in Doug Pederson’s tight end-happy offense, it’s never going to happen.
Jason Kelce, Allen Barbre, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Tobin, Dillon Gordon, Josh Andrews, Halapoulivaati Vaitai
Wow, this is a huge group. I never thought they’d keep 11 guys, but here we are. It has to be frustrating that they haven’t heard anything about Johnson’s impending suspension, but the silver lining is he gets to play Week 1 against the Browns and bump Barbre back to guard. If/when Johnson is suspended, I don’t expect them to replace his roster spot with another lineman. When Johnson is on the field, this is a better group than most people give them credit for.
Brandon Graham, Connor Barwin, Vinny Curry, Marcus Smith, Steven Means, Bryan Braman
It seems kind of excessive to keep six defensive ends regardless of the scheme. Braman will likely only play special teams and Means or Smith will probably be scratched on most game days, so the advantage of keeping so many is murky. I thought Means deserved it, but Smith was starting to look a little better, so I guess they didn’t want to cut him loose yet. This is arguably their best position group on the team with three starting-caliber DEs.
Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao
Cox and Logan fill out the starting front four, which is probably one of the best in the league. Cox is definitely their best player and was paid like it this offseason. I’m still a little surprised to see Vaeao on the team and Taylor Hart and Mike Martin on the streets, but Vaeao must have impressed them enough to earn a spot for now, at least.
Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Stephen Tulloch, Kamu Grugier-Hill
One year ago, Hicks was fourth in the depth chart for just inside linebackers, and now he’s arguably their best overall linebacker on the team. Kendricks once again missed a lot of time this preseason due to injury and has looked a little slow getting back into a rhythm. Bradham knows Jim Schwartz’s defense, but generally isn’t that impressive of a player in my opinion. Tulloch is a solid veteran backup, but with Najee Goode surprisingly cut, Grugier-Hill, a signing off waivers after final cuts were made, is one of their lone backups. With the injury problems to Hicks and Kendricks, this group could struggle this year if people start getting hurt.
Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, Eric Rowe, Jalen Mills
This group should definitely be better than it was a year ago, mostly because most of the guys are new. Rowe, who seemed like he would be the team’s No. 1 corner back in the early offseason, has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and has been knocked down the depth chart in favor of guys who already have experience playing for Schwartz. McKelvin and Carroll, assuming they’re the starters on the outside, should be a solid tandem, but neither guy will be a shutdown corner at this point in their career. Overall, I still like this group.
Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Jaylen Watkins, Terrence Brooks
Jenkins and McLeod have the chance to be a really awesome tandem at safety and probably one of the best in the league. Maragos is still a special teams stud, and Watkins has bounced back from a poor rookie year and has turned into a solid backup in Year 3. Brooks was one of the guys the team signed off waivers, and I’m actually surprised they’re keeping five safeties, but he probably won’t play much anyway.
Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos
This is basically what was expected. Cody Parkey was consistently outplayed in the preseason and training camp and never really had a shot at beating out Sturgis, who looked solid all of camp. Jones and Dorenbos also continue to be really good players for this team.
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