Normally I don’t post an updated 53 man roster prediction before the third preseason game, but this preseason has kicked my ass and a lot has changed in the last two weeks. 11 new players are on my updated 53 man roster. Disappointments, one trade, one veteran signing, and several surprising performances have altered my roster quite a bit.
Since my first 53 man roster article the Philadelphia Eagles have signed former Detroit Lions starting middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch and traded all-world backup lineman Dennis Kelly for the Tennesse Titans 2015 second round pick, Dorial Green-Beckham.
Wide receiver and linebacker depth were both huge issues going into camp and it was great to see GM Howie Roseman address both positions without giving up anything of real value. I expect at least two more trades, if not more, that will really shake up this roster.
But for now, here is my second crack at projecting the Eagles Week 1 regular season roster:
Quarterbacks(3): Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Carson Wentz- Same story as before, Bradford is your starter, Daniel is the backup and Wentz will stay inactive unless someone gets hurt.
Running Backs(4): Ryan Mathews, Kenjon Barner, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood- Just like with the quarterbacks, this group remains unchanged as well. No new acquisitions, no major injuries and nobody has really helped or hurt their case this summer. Smallwood will finally play in the third preseason game, but nothing he does in that game will help or hurt his case for making the roster. He was taken in the 5th round of the draft months ago and nothing will make them cuts ties with him before his first season outside of a major arrest.
Wide Receivers(6): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner, Josh Huff, Byron Marshall- This group has probably changed more than any since preseason started. For me, I have lost what little faith I had in Rueben Randle and Chris Givens making this roster. Givens has been invisible and when Randle is getting open he is either dropping easy passes or giving such little effort you wonder why he didn’t just retire after last season.
The DGB trade was huge. I’m not saying he is going to put up Dez Bryant numbers, but he gives the Eagles a physical threat at outside receiver. He’s also got a lot on the line this time around. He was kicked out of Mizzou in college and recently traded way by the team that drafted him in the 2nd round just one year ago.
Turner has been the nice surprise. I think he earns a role on this roster as the fourth wide out. Josh Huff hasn’t proven to be reliable in any area except kick returns and that’s where he should make his living.
Byron Marshall is a jack of all trades weapon on offense. He’s a running back, return man and slot receiver, similar to how Dexter McCluster was for the Chiefs offense when Doug Pederson was calling plays for him.
Tight Ends(3): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton- Nothing has changed with this position and nothing will until 2018 at the earliest.
Offensive Line(9): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Allen Barbre, Stefan Wisniewski, Matt Tobin, Josh Andrews, Halapoulivaati Vaitai- Not much has change with this group except that Dennis Kelly was traded so I have Matt Tobin making the final 53 instead.
Defensive Tackles(5): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Mike Martin, Taylor Hart- I’ll admit I will probably be wrong with this group. I know Cox and Logan are the starters, but that’s about it. Allen has looked pretty good in preseason and has shown that he isn’t just a 3-4 nose tackle.
Martin hasn’t played a preseason game yet and will be out for Saturday’s game against Indy. If he can stay healthy for a solid week before final cuts I think he earns a roster spot. Hart has been the subject of some trade rumors. He’s plenty athletic to be a Jim Schwartz interior rusher, but he may have more value as a 3-4 defensive end. If the Eagles can get a draft pick for him or a quality linebacker I think they pull the trigger.
Defensive Ends(5): Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin, Marcus Smith, Stephen Means- Marcus Smith is saved for another year because rookie 7th round pick Alex McCalister isn’t healthy going into the third week of preseason and is probably best served as a practice squad stash for this season. He’s far too skinny and raw to make an impact at this level right now.
Smith isn’t useless as a 4-3 defensive end. You just have to forget about the fact that he was a first round pick back in 2014.
Linebackers(5): Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, Stephen Tulloch, Najee Goode- The biggest change here obviously is Tulloch. He came in after Joe Walker tore his ACL. He most likely will assume the backup middle linebacker role and Goode probably fills in at either outside spot, although he is a much better fit as a SAM. A lot of people would rather see 6 or more linebackers kept, but I just don’t see enough talent there to warrant that decision. I do think at least two linebackers will be kept on the practice squad after final cuts are completed.
Cornerbacks(5): Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe- Carroll has taken back his starting role and will more than likely playing opposite of McKelvin. Brooks and Mills should figure into the mix for depth along with the nickel and dime package roles. Rowe is the real mystery here. He has struggled to pick up this new defense and is listed with the third stringers. \
It wouldn’t shock me to see Rowe get moved and Aaron Grymes stay as the 5th corner, but it would take a pretty good trade offer. Rowe was a 2nd round pick just a year ago. They would move Rowe to safety before they would ever just give up on him without getting a good return in the process.
Safeties(5): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Jaylen Watkins, Blake Countess- Watkins is the new addition on here for me. His open field tackling is what will finally put him over the top and earn him a full-time role on this roster. Countess will be the 5th safety, but will also be competing for a slot corner role down the road.
Specialists(3): Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos- Sturgis pretty much has the kicking job locked up. Nothing short of an additional punt to the head will cost him his job. Tough break for Parkey with the injury last season and the emergence of Sturgis, but he’ll get more opportunities down the road.