Here's what the Eagles' 53-man roster will look like

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Eagles quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow.

CHIP KELLY starts training camp Sunday, and by the time he's done his decision-making, the roster will have 53 players on it.

Here's one man's opinion on what Kelly will wind up with:

Quarterback (3)

Sam Bradford

Mark Sanchez

Tim Tebow

Cutdown casualty:

Matt Barkley

Comment: Kelly has kept three QBs the last two years and that isn't expected to change this season. If Bradford stays healthy, he'll be the starter and Sanchez will be the backup. There will be no "open" competition for the starting job. Tebow has worked his butt off the last two years to improve his throwing mechanics, but I didn't see a whole lot of difference in him in the spring workouts. That said, he brings a little more versatility to the table than Barkley, whom Kelly barely even mentions anymore.

Running back (4)

DeMarco Murray

Ryan Mathews

Darren Sproles

Kenjon Barner

Comment: Kelly kept only three running backs last season – LeSean McCoy, Sproles and Chris Polk – and it created problems early on when Polk was sidelined with a hamstring injury. It limited how much Kelly could use Sproles because he was the only other back behind McCoy. On a few occasions, rookie tight end Trey Burton was even used in the backfield. I think Kelly is leaning toward keeping four running backs and just three tight ends this year, so that he can utilize Sproles more in the passing game. As the fourth back, Barner would give the Eagles a similar type of player to Sproles in the event he was to get hurt.

Wide receiver (6)

Jordan Matthews

Nelson Agholor

Riley Cooper

Josh Huff

Miles Austin

Seyi Ajirotutu

Cutdown casualties:

Jeff Maehl, Rasheed Bailey, G.J. Kinne

Comment: While it remains to be seen how Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur are going to use them, Matthews, Agholor, Cooper, Huff and Austin all are roster locks. Austin, who has made a complete recovery from the lacerated kidney he suffered last year with the Browns, could end up being a terrific under-the-radar free-agent signing. Ajirotutu has just 24 catches in five NFL seasons and just 11 the last four years. He's played a total of 369 offensive snaps since 2011. But that's not why the Eagles signed him. They signed him because he's an outstanding special-teams player, and that's why he will make the team as the sixth wideout. Former QB Kinne is an intriguing guy. He can play wide receiver or running back. But even on a Chip Kelly team, there is a limit to how many Swiss army knives you can keep in your backpack.

Tight end (3)

Zach Ertz

Brent Celek

Trey Burton

Comment: With James Casey gone, there's no compelling reason to keep four tight ends, unless one of the three undrafted rookies on the training-camp roster – Justin Tukes, Eric Tomlinson or Andrew Gleichert – plays his butt off this summer and convinces the coaching staff they need to keep him around. It's more likely that one of them will end up on the practice squad.

Offensive line (9)

Jason Kelce

Jason Peters

Lane Johnson

Allen Barbre

Matt Tobin

John Moffitt

Andrew Gardner

Kevin Graf

Mike Coccia

Cutdown casualties:

David Molk, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde

Comment: The Eagles opened last season with 10 offensive linemen on their roster because of Lane Johnson's four-game suspension (he took up a roster spot during his suspension), but carried only nine later in the year after Kelce and Evan Mathis recovered from their injuries. It's possible Kelly will open the season with 10, but right now, because of issues at other positions, I think he'll go with only nine. Peters, Kelce, Johnson, Barbre and Tobin, who likely will be the season-opening starting five, are givens. If Moffitt's heart is in it, and his intense offseason MMA training in Arizona seems to indicate it is, he'll likely make the team and might even challenge for one of the starting guard spots. Gardner, who started eight games last year, can play inside or outside and is a valuable backup. I've got Graf, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, beating out Kelly, even though Kelly has played both guard and tackle and Graf is primarily a tackle. And I think Coccia, who hails from Bethlehem and played at Kelly's old University of New Hampshire stomping grounds, will beat out Molk and Vandervelde for the ninth offensive-line spot. Unlike Molk, the 6-3, 302-pound Coccia can play both center and guard.

Defensive line (7)

Fletcher Cox

Cedric Thornton

Bennie Logan

Vinny Curry

Beau Allen

Brandon Bair

Taylor Hart

Cutdown casualty:

Brian Mihalik

Comment: This is probably the easiest position group to predict. Cox, Thornton and Logan form one of the best 3-4 starting threesomes in the league and haven't missed a game in two years. Curry had nine sacks last year as a nickel rusher. Allen is a solid backup to Logan in the middle. Bair played 200-plus snaps in 2014. Hart was inactive for all 16 games as a rookie but has gained weight and strength. Unless somebody gets hurt, seventh-round rookie Mihalik's best hope is a practice-squad spot.

Linebacker (9)

Connor Barwin

Brandon Graham

Mychal Kendricks

DeMeco Ryans

Kiko Alonso

Bryan Braman

Brad Jones

Travis Long

Jordan Hicks

Cutdown casualties:

Emmanuel Acho, Najee Goode

Comment: This is a tough unit to project for a couple of reasons. The addition of Alonso gives Bill Davis three starting-caliber inside linebackers for two positions. But both Alonso and Kendricks have the versatility to slide outside, and Davis may occasionally opt to use one of them in that role, which could impact how many outside 'backers he keeps. So, too, could Vinny Curry. Curry has been used exclusively as an interior nickel rusher on passing downs the last two years. But after recording nine sacks in just 321 pass-rush opportunities last season, Davis would like to get him on the field more. To that end, Curry took some spring snaps at outside linebacker. Marcus Smith was a major disappointment last year as a rookie, playing just 79 snaps and contributing next to nothing. Kelly has made it clear to him that he needs to play better. If he doesn't, would Kelly cut his 2014 first-round pick? They would take a big cap hit, but if Smith continues to look as lost as he did a year ago, I don't think Kelly would hesitate to give him his walking papers. Particularly since he's already put the blame for the selection of Smith on former GM Howie Roseman. Braman was one of the Eagles' top special-teams players last season. Free-agent signee Jones also was brought in primarily for his special-teams prowess and can back up both inside and outside. Long is coming back from his second ACL tear. He had the team made last year before he got hurt in the final preseason game. Hicks, an inside 'backer who was the team's third-round pick, is going to be on the 53-man roster. That would appear to leave Acho and Goode as the odd men out if Kelly keeps just nine linebackers, which is how many he carried into Week 1 last season.

Defensive back (9)

Byron Maxwell

Eric Rowe

Nolan Carroll

Brandon Boykin

Malcolm Jenkins

Walter Thurmond

Chris Maragos

Chris Prosinski

Jerome Couplin

Cutdown casualties:

Earl Wolff, Jaylen Watkins, Ed Reynolds, JaCorey Shepherd, Randall Evans

Comment: Like linebacker, it's hard to predict how things are going to shake out with this group. Most teams carry five corners. But the Eagles consider their safeties as quasi-corners and often keep both of them on the field in sub packages. Thurmond, who is the projected starting safety next to Jenkins, has been a corner his entire career. So, the Eagles probably will keep just four corners – Maxwell, Carroll, Boykin and second-round rookie Rowe. I think at least one, and maybe both, of their rookie sixth-rounders, Shepherd and Evans, will end up on the practice squad. As for safety, Wolff was in Kelly's doghouse this offseason after having microfracture knee surgery in December and sitting out most of the team's spring work. Watkins was a Roseman pick, which clearly isn't a good thing to be on this team right now, even though he has corner/safety versatility. Maragos and Prosinski are outstanding special-teams players, and the Eagles thought enough of the 6-1, 215-pound Couplin to sign him off Detroit's practice squad last December. So I think he'll stick unless he shows nothing in training camp and the preseason.

Special teams (3)

Cody Parkey (PK)

Donnie Jones (P)

Jon Dorenbos (LS)

 


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