Is it a little silly to do a 53-man roster projection before the Eagles have even played a single preseason game? Yes. Yes it is. Well, I'm playing GM and doing one anyway, and will update it every week or so as we progress through training camp. Note: With the exception of the DL, which is difficult to put in any sort of order because I don't even know where a lot of those guys will actually be playing, this is also a depth chart projection, which of course, is written in sand.
QB (3): Nick Foles, Michael Vick, Matt Barkley
Yep, Foles starts. Michael Vick will probably have to win this job emphatically if the Eagles are going to play him over a young guy who they can evaluate to see if he is a legitimate long term answer. Vick has not done much at all to separate himself from his competition. Frankly, looking at the offseason in its entirety so far (OTAs, minicamp, and training camp), Foles has been better. And yes, in this scenario, I believe Vick stays with the team. There are some things I like about Barkley thus far, but if I were the Eagles I would feel a lot more comfortable with Vick as my backup than Barkley at this point.
RB (3): LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk
McCoy and Brown are obvious. One of the early pleasant surprises of camp so far has been Polk, who looks a lot quicker than I've ever seen him. Felix Jones gets the boot. RBs can be found pretty easily off the street in a pinch these days, and I have Matthew Tucker stashed away on the practice squad if I need him.
WR (5): DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Arrelious Benn
Before Jeremy Maclin got hurt, Avant was a bubble player, in my opinion. Now I think the Eagles almost have to keep him. The other WRs on the roster have a lot of potential, but are light on actual production. Avant is light on potential, but you know what you're getting: a willing blocker, a leader, and chain mover. Cooper needs to step up, Johnson is a speedy role player, and Benn is a big body guy who can be physical.
TE (4): Brent Celek, James Casey, Zach Ertz, Clay Harbor
The first 3 guys are no-brainers, and will be an instrumental part of this team. For my 4th TE, I reluctantly keep Harbor. Harbor is absolutely jacked, and that has to impress the new staff. He has also quietly had a nice camp so far, although he had a great camp in 2012 and still didn't produce. One more thing: Since Harbor is in the last year of his deal, if he shows anything at all, maybe you let him walk in free agency, hope that some team signs him to a decent deal, and you get a compensatory pick in return, assuming you sign fewer players than you lose in free agency. OK, now I'm reaching.
OL (9): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Dennis Kelly, Danny Watkins, Dallas Reynolds, Nate Menkin
I feel really confident about those first 8 guys. It's just a matter of the 9th. I'll keep Menkin, who has some versatility and upside.
DL (8): Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Clifton Geathers, Vinny Curry, Antonio Dixon, Joe Kruger (DE/OLB hybrid)
The defensive line is a deep and talented group, and one that I detailed player-by-player about a week ago. With the Eagles running a fast-paced offense, there may be times in which the defense will be on the field quickly on consecutive positions if the offense goes 3-and-out. Therefore, I’m loading up in the trenches and making sure I have a lot of players I can shuttle in and out, so they stay fresh.
OLB (4): Connor Barwin, Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Chris McCoy
I’ve seen some people wonder if Trent Cole is long for the roster. I’ll save you time… He is, at least for this year. Barwin may wind up being indispensible as the SAM, as he is the only proven OLB on the team who is competent in coverage. McCoy is a bit of a surprise pick, but he has shown some ability in coverage. With Cole and Graham being deficient in that area, McCoy sticks.
ILB (4): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jake Knott, Casey Matthews
Ryans and Kendricks are locks, and word is that the team really likes Knott. Oh hey, Casey Matthews makes it! With special teams maven Jason Phillips lost for the season with a torn ACL, Matthews is the best special teamer of the rest of the bunch.
CB (5): Brandon Boykin, Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Curtis Marsh, Jordan Poyer
As I’m sure you’ve already read, Brandon Boykin is killing it this camp. He may actually steal a starting position. It’s “go time” for Marsh, who needs to show something this season, or he could be gone. Poyer could contribute on special teams, but may be eased into a role on the defense.
S (4): Nate Allen, Patrick Chung, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson
The glaring omission here is Kenny Phillips. I don’t believe in his knee. As for the guys who make the cut here, Wolff may develop into a good player, but as for the rest… Yikes.
K/P/LS (3): Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos
Henery and Dorenbos are running unopposed, and Jones has been far more consistent than Brad Wing.
If you add them all up, you get 52. I'm keeping it at 52, and scouring the league for OLB help.
A few solid practice squad candidates: Matthew Tucker, David King, Russell Shepard, Ifeanyi Momah, Michael Bamiro, Damion Square.