The Eagles need to get from 90 players to 53 on their roster by 6 p.m. Aug. 31. They’ll get to 75 by Aug. 27. Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman still have a lot of work left to do as they whittle their roster down. The Inquirer’s Eagles beat reporters will predict who stay and who goes. Here’s the lineup:
Wed, Aug. 14: Defensive linemen
Thur., Aug. 15: Offensive linemen
Fri., Aug. 16: Quarterbacks / Specialists
Mon., Aug. 19: Outside linebackers
Tues., Aug. 20: Running backs
Wed., Aug. 21: Inside linebackers
Thur., Aug. 22: Wide receivers
Fri., Aug. 23: Cornerbacks
Mon., Aug. 26: Tight ends
Tues., Aug. 27: Safeties
LIKELY TO KEEP: 5-6.
WHO STAYS: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, Jordan Poyer
The cornerbacks the Eagles keep on Aug. 31 might not be the same group they have going into Sept. 9 game against the Redskins. Let’s make that clear from the jump. And the final two spots are not yet secured. Plus, they could keep six, rather than five.
You know Williams will be on the team. Despite his spring absence, Williams is the team’s top cornerback. He started each of the past two seasons, has played in big games, and is a physical corner. On the other side, look for Fletcher. He also has starting experience in the NFL and provides the size the team is looking for the outside. Neither has distinguished themselves during camp, but their experience and size are assets. The Eagles should hope for solid, consistent play after inconsistency from big-named cornerbacks during the past two seasons.
One should also consider Boykin a starter, as the Eagles will play in the nickel more than the base defense. Boykin would even push for playing time on the outside if he wasn’t clearly the team’s best option in the slot. That’s where Boykin will play most of his time. He’s been the team’s best cornerback during the summer, and it’s reasonable to expect him to be a strong contributor in his second season.
The top three are certainly not an elite trio, but they are the best on the team. After them, the situation is unclear.
It could be Eddie Whitley and Curtis Marsh over Hughes and Poyer, but I went with the two Oregon State products. Hughes is a strong special teams player who can contribute at cornerback at both the outside and even in the nickel in a pinch. He’s not a starter in the NFL, but he’s a solid player to have. If they can find an upgrade on the waiver wire after the cuts, then they might go that route. But Hughes is on this roster because of special teams.
Poyer gets the nod here over Whitley, even though Whitley has seemed to outplay him. But as a seventh-round pick who was an all-American last season, Poyer might have more upside. That’s why I put him here. Some of the 53-man roster spots could be akin to redshirt spots, especially if the player has down-the-road potential. I think that’s Poyer.
The reason I have the Eagles keeping five cornerbacks is because safety Patrick Chung can play the slot, so I think the Eagles and five safeties and five cornerbacks. But those final roster spots will be determined in the final two games, so the situation remains fluid.
WHO GOES: Eddie Whitley, Curtis Marsh, Trevard Lindley
Let’s start with Marsh, because he’s the biggest name in the group. The former third-round pick needed to earn a roster spot, and his fractured right hand didn’t help his chances. Marsh left the second preseason game early into his playing time, and he’ll miss Game No. 3. That’s valuable evaluation. Based on the missed time, I have a hard time putting Marsh on the roster.
Whitley has played well enough to make the team, but well enough might not be enough. He has good versatility, and can play the slot if needed. He also has practice-squad eligibility.
Lindley keeps showing up with the Eagles each summer. I don’t think he’s done enough to make the team. He’s already 27 and has spent four training camps with the team. This might be it for him in Philadelphia.
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