Who makes the roster: Defensive end

Our look at who's going to make the 53-man roster continues with ...


Of all the changes the Eagles made in the off-season, the most turnover came at defensive end. Darren Howard and Chris Clemons were jettisoned and Darryl Tapp, Brandon Graham, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Ricky Sapp were brought aboard. And then there’s the enigmatic Victor Abiamiri, who had microfracture knee surgery in February and will either remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season or land on injured reserve for the entire year.

The Eagles did a fine job keeping the severity of Abiamiri’s operation in-house. They didn’t want to tip off any teams that they were likely to take an end early in the draft, which, of course, they ended up doing.

Graham was their man and they moved up and got him with the 13th overall selection. As of this writing, there’s no reason to think the rookie will be bust and there are plenty of reasons to think he could be something special. He’s already won the starting left defensive end spot and could be the perfect foil to Trent Cole, who was worn down by double and triple teams by the end of the season.

Graham still has a lot to learn and there will be games when he’s manhandled by some of the larger right tackles in the league. But should become, at the very least, what Abiamiri was projected to be. The Eagles drafted two more ends in Te’o-Nesheim and Sapp, although Sapp appears to be better suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme.

When they selected Sapp in the 5th round, the Eagles said he could fill the “Joker” role – a sort of roving stand-up end -- once occupied by Clemons. But the rookie hasn’t really played there much and looks overwhelmed thus far. Sapp had surgery to correct a torn anterior cruciate ligament a year ago and had a slight setback with the knee early in camp. It could be enough for the Eagles to stow him on IR for a season.

Te’o-Nesheim has somehow found his way onto the first team nickel package as one of the tackles. I still don’t think he was worth a third round pick, by the coaches say they love DTN’s energy and work ethic.

Tapp was acquired when the Eagles sent Clemons and a fourth-round pick to Seattle in exchange for the underachiever. Clemons was a stiff by the end of his tenure in Philly, but I’m now starting to wonder who got the better end of that deal. Tapp is really small. He makes Graham, who has been knocked because of his size, look like Tony Siragusa. I still think he stays on the roster because the Eagles probably aren’t ready to admit their mistake.

Keeps the playbook: Cole, Graham, Juqua Parker, Te’o-Nesheim, Tapp and Abiamiri (PUP or IR).
On the bubble: Sapp.
Call your agent: Eric Moncur.

Tomorrow: Linebacker.