Predicting the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles 53-man roster—Version 1

What better way to celebrate my return to the world of Philadelphia Eagles blogging with a 53-man roster prediction? It’s been since 2016 that I did a roster prediction, and it’s definitely one of the most fun things to do as a fan/writer.

Alright, whenever I read these articles I skip right over the introduction, so I’m just going to jump into the predictions.

Quarterback

In: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld
Out: Joe Callahan, Christian Hackenberg

There’s still no guarantee that Wentz will play Week 1, and with Foles banged up a little as well (even though it seems he’ll play Thursday against the Browns), I think it’ll be necessary to keep Sudfeld on the active roster, just in case. Sudfeld showed flashes of being OK last year, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how he’s looked this preseason. It’s clear he can make throws that basically no third-string quarterbacks can make. With Foles’ future in Philadelphia after 2018 in question, I think it’d be best to try to hold onto Sudfeld. On a separate note, if the Eagles keep Hackenberg in any capacity, I will riot.

Running back

In: Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Josh Adams
Out: Wendell Smallwood, Donnell Pumphrey, Matt Jones

Ajayi, Clement and Sproles are all locks to make this team, and the other RBs on the roster have generally been unimpressive in terms of trying to lock up that fourth slot. They’ve all battled their share of injuries in the past year or so, especially Pumphrey, who I think would’ve been the fourth guy if he could ever get on the field. I could see them holding onto Smallwood another year and throwing Adams on the practice squad, but Smallwood has yet to show anything of value that the other RBs on the roster can’t do. Jones is an obvious cut. If you think the Eagles should keep five RBs, I probably hate you.

Wide receiver

In: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Greg Ward
Out: Markus Wheaton, Kamar Aiken, Bryce Treggs, Darius Prince, DeAndre Carter, Tim Wilson, Anthony Mahoungou

This whole group of players has been really banged up this preseason, especially the guys who are supposed to make the team. It seems unlikely the Eagles would go into this season with only five WRs on the main roster with Agholor, Jeffery and Hollins all still battling injuries. Gibson has really impressed me this offseason, scoring a touchdown in both games. I thought Wheaton would make the sixth spot, but he’s missed the whole preseason with a strained hamstring. I think they’ll go with a younger guy over the sub-par group of veterans they signed.

Tight end

In: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers
Out: Gannon Sinclair, Billy Brown, Josh Perkins

Ertz and Goedert are obviously locks, and I think Rodgers will make it even though he got hurt because he offers value. I tossed around the idea of holding a fourth tight end like they’ve done in the past, but I don’t see any of the other three guys as valuable enough to warrant keeping. People hyped up Brown a lot going into training camp, but I haven’t been particularly impressed with him.

Offensive line

In: Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack, Darrell Greene
Out: Jon Toth, Toby Weathersby, Aaron Evans, Matt Pryor, Jordan Mailata, Taylor Hart

The five starters are locked in place barring something unforeseen. Vaitai had a rough game against the Patriots, but he’s proven he’s a more than a capable backup at tackle. Seumalo will likely serve as a blocking tight end if the team wants to run a jumbo set, at least until Rodgers returns. The Eagles have had minimal injuries in this position group, which is great. Mailata is the fun pick to make the team, but he’s practice squad at best.

Defensive end

In: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Steven Means, Josh Sweat
Out: Danny Ezechukwu, Joe Ostman

Man, this group is absolutely stacked. I have no idea why you keep six DEs except for the fact that cutting Means would be a crime. I could see them trading him so they don’t have to keep six guys here, but I also anticipate guys like Bennett and Graham moving inside to defensive tackle in pass rushing situations. I don’t think Sweat is ready to play yet, but cutting a fourth-round pick would make no sense.

Defensive tackle

In: Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls
Out: Bruce Hector, Winston Craig, Aziz Shittu

Not having Timmy Jernigan for the start of the season will be tough. However, Ngata is a veteran who can still make an impact in limited snaps, and Vaeao proved he can play well these past two years. Qualls has potential as well.

Linebacker

In: Jordan Hicks, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Joe Walker, Nate Gerry, Corey Nelson
Out: Kyle Wilson, LaRoy Reynolds, Asantay Brown

Linebacker is once again one of the weaker positions on this team depth-wise. Grugier-Hill has apparently impressed as a potential third starting linebacker, but no matter what, one of these guys will have a larger role in Week 1 with Nigel Bradham suspended. I suspect they’ll be using nickel a lot, so the linebacker depth doesn’t have to be great. One of these guys will be cut once Bradham returns to the main roster.

Cornerback

In: Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, De’Vante Bausby
Out: Chandon Sullivan, D.J. Killings

The Eagles have quietly built an impressive, young group of cornerbacks. I think Darby, Mills and Jones will all be starting if they decide to use nickel as the base defense. Douglas had an up-and-down first preseason game, but he’s still a lock for the roster. Maddox and Bausby are both young guys who can fill in as depth and special teams players.

Safety

In: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Chris Maragos
Out: Jeremy Reaves, Stephen Roberts, Tre Sullivan

It’s going to be the same safeties as last year. Sullivan has not impressed me enough to win a roster spot at this point. I think Maragos will be on the active roster Week 1, but if for some reason he’s still on the PUP List, then I guess Sullivan will fill in. Safety is another position where the depth is not great. Jenkins will likely be playing all over the field again, requiring Graham to play a lot. And I’m fine with it.

Special teams

In: Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato
Out: None

The Eagles didn’t bring in any competition for any of the three special teams positions this training camp, so they’re going with who they have. There’s really nothing else to say here. Just hoping that Elliott is as much of a god from 50+ yards as he was last year.

PUP List/Suspensions

In: Nigel Bradham, Timmy Jernigan
Out: None

Neither Bradham nor Jernigan will count against the 53-man roster to start the season. Bradham will get activated to the main roster after his Week 1 suspension, and Jernigan will be out at least after Week 6 if he remains on the Non-football injury (NFI) list. If those guys were part of the 53, the guys I’d cut would be Corey Nelson and Elijah Qualls.

If you didn’t remember, the Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champions (of course you remember, I just love saying it), so this team is expectedly stacked. They made it out of free agency without losing too many key players from last year. The last two preseason games could still swing the pendulum for some of these guys, so I’ll be doing at least one more roster projection. If you don’t agree with a pick, please angrily tweet at me.

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