Saturday, October 10, 2015

Here's how the Eagles 53-man roster will fill out

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. (Matt Rourke/AP)
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. (Matt Rourke/AP)

NINETY PLAYERS will report today to the Eagles' training camp at NovaCare. By Aug. 30, Chip Kelly must reduce that number to 53. He and his staff will have 39 practices and four preseason games to help them decide. If they had to decide now, here's one man's opinion on what the 53-man roster would look like:


Nick Foles

Mark Sanchez

More coverage
  • VOTE: Can Eagles contain Saints' passing game?
  • Download FREE Philly Sports Now app for iPhone!
  • FORUMS: Will the Eagles make the playoffs?
  • Latest NFL odds
  • SHOP: Eagles Training Camp sportswear
  • Matt Barkley

    The thinking: The only mystery here is who will be Foles' backup. Sanchez and Barkley will duke it out in camp and the preseason. If Sanchez's surgically repaired shoulder is OK, he appears to have a slight edge over Barkley based on experience. G.J. Kinne is odd man out.


    LeSean McCoy

    Darren Sproles

    Chris Polk

    Matthew Tucker

    The thinking: Kelly went with four running backs most of last season and almost certainly will do so again since Sproles is expected to be used more as a third-down pass-catcher and return guy than a legitimate backup to McCoy. Then again, the Eagles' coaches have gone out of their way to talk about Sproles' prowess as a runner. Rookie free agent Henry Josey could challenge Tucker for the No. 4 job, but probably will end up on the practice squad.


    Jeremy Maclin

    Riley Cooper

    Jordan Matthews

    Josh Huff

    Brad Smith

    Arrelious Benn

    The thinking: The first five are no-brainers. Smith's line-him-up-anywhere versatility is appealing to Kelly. Benn is talented, but injury-prone. He missed all of last season with a torn ACL and missed eight games with the Bucs in '12 with a knee injury. But if the 6-2, 220-pounder can make it through the summer in one piece and return to the level that made him a second-round pick in 2010, he has a good chance to make the roster. If he can't, Jeff Maehl probably makes the team again.

    * TIGHT ENDS (3)

    Zach Ertz

    Brent Celek

    James Casey

    The thinking: Ertz is expected to be a big part of the Eagles' passing attack this season, and Celek was an integral part of the Eagles' No. 1-ranked rushing attack. Casey only played 157 snaps and had just three receptions last year. But he played on all four special teams, and $2 million of his $3.98 million salary this season is guaranteed. Rookie free agent Trey Burton is an intriguing player who could push Casey. But I suspect he'll wind up on the practice squad.


    Jason Peters (T)

    Evan Mathis (G)

    Jason Kelce (C)

    Todd Herremans (G)

    Lane Johnson (T)

    Allen Barbre (G/T)

    Matt Tobin (T)

    Julian Vandervelde (C/G)

    Donald Hawkins (G)

    Kevin Graf (T)

    The thinking: The Eagles carried just nine offensive linemen last season. They might do so again since Barbre can play inside or outside, which gives them the luxury of dressing just seven o-linemen for games. But the uncertain status of Johnson probably is going to force them to carry 10 linemen to open the season. I gave the final two spots to undrafted rookies Hawkins and Graf. Maybe Dennis Kelly hangs on to one of those spots with a solid summer performance. And maybe last year's 6-8, 340-pound practice-squad project, Michael Bamiro, shows better foot movement in camp than he did in the spring OTAs. But right now, I'm going to go with Hawkins and Graf.


    Fletcher Cox

    Bennie Logan

    Cedric Thornton

    Taylor Hart

    Vinny Curry

    Joe Kruger

    The thinking: They opened last season with seven d-linemen, but went with six in the second half of the season after trading nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to the Patriots for one of Bill Belichick's hoodies. Hart, a rookie fifth-rounder who played for Kelly and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro at Oregon, seems assured of a roster spot. So is Curry, who has carved out a niche as an inside pass-rusher. Kruger, who spent last year on IR, has gained nearly 30 pounds. Kelly loves undrafted rookie Alejandro Villanueva, but they can put him on the practice squad and let him learn the position for a year. Then there are nose tackles Damion Square and Beau Allen. Square played just 150 snaps last season and never looked better than OK. Allen, a rookie seventh-rounder with a prototypical nose tackle body, is another practice-squad candidate who could be promoted if something happened to Logan.


    Connor Barwin (OLB)

    Trent Cole (OLB)

    Mychal Kendricks (ILB)

    DeMeco Ryans (ILB)

    Marcus Smith (OLB)

    Najeh Goode (ILB)

    Bryan Braman (OLB)

    Jake Knott (ILB)

    The thinking: With the addition of first-rounder Smith, I'm just not seeing a place for Brandon Graham. They selected Smith in the first round. And given their need to improve special teams, Braman is a lock to make the roster. They're also very high on '13 practice-squad player Travis Long. Goode is expected to be the primary backup inside to Kendricks and Ryans. Knott is a tough, hard-nosed player, but will miss the first four games because of a PED suspension. How that impacts his chances of making the team is uncertain. The Eagles signed special-teams ace Jason Phillips last year, but he tore his ACL and never played a game. He needs to have a strong camp and preseason to make the team.


    Malcolm Jenkins (S)

    Nate Allen (S)

    Earl Wolff (S)

    Chris Maragos (S)

    Ed Reynolds (S)

    Bradley Fletcher (CB)

    Cary Williams (CB)

    Brandon Boykin (CB)

    Nolan Carroll (CB)

    Jaylen Watkins (CB)

    The thinking: The Eagles carried five safeties last year and probably will again. Jenkins and Allen are expected to be the starters, but Wolff will push Allen for playing time and also will be used in some of defensive coordinator Billy Davis' sub-packages. Former Seahawk Maragos is expected to be one of the team's special-teams leaders. Any chance Keelan Johnson had of beating out Reynolds for the fifth safety job likely vanished with his recent arrest. The free-agent signing of Carroll and the drafting of Watkins gives the Eagles the cornerback depth they lacked last year, which means they'll be able to play more dime this season and give their inside 'backers an occasional breather. Watkins has corner-safety versatility. Barring injuries, this almost certainly will be the end of the line in Philadelphia for Roc Carmichael and Curtis Marsh.


    Alex Henery (PK)

    Donnie Jones (P)

    Jon Dorenbos (LS)

    The thinking: Jones is coming off a Pro Bowl-caliber season. Dorenbos is one of the league's most reliable long-snappers. Rookie Carey Spear is no threat to Henery. But the Eagles won't hesitate to bring in a replacement this season if he doesn't get kickoffs deeper and improve his accuracy on field goals from 45-plus yards.

    Daily News Staff Writer
    We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
    Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

    Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

    Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

    Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

    Read 0 comments
    comments powered by Disqus
    Latest Videos:
    Also on
    letter icon Newsletter