A couple weeks ago, I unveiled my first 53-man roster projection. It was a glorious achievement in journalism excellence. Since then, however, my outlook on the 53-man roster has changed a bit, so I've updated my thoughts on the roster, and ordered each position in terms of depth, which as we all know by now is written in sand.
QB (3): Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley
If you’ve read my stuff here on the QB battle, you already know my thoughts on Vick vs Foles. However, I’ll run through quickly for those of you who haven’t.
For me, it’s simple:
- Michael Vick is 33 years old.
- Michael Vick is in decline.
- Michael Vick is in the final year of his contract.
- The Eagles are not going to realistically compete for a Super Bowl this year.
Michael Vick is not the long-term answer at QB for the Eagles. Nick Foles might be, or he might not be. The only way to know for sure is if he plays. Unless Vick has clearly separated himself from Foles in training camp and the preseason games (something he has not yet done, in my opinion), it makes sense to see what Foles can do. If Foles has a good season and looks like he can be the long term answer, great. If not, the Eagles can attack the 2014 offseason accordingly.
However, I’m not sure my logic aligns with the Eagles’ thinking, which is why I have Vick listed as the starter. Vick has been better since training camp began, but not by any kind of wide margin, by any stretch. However, if the Eagles are simply going with the better player currently, regardless of long term thinking, it’s probably Vick.
Does Chip Kelly really, really want to win right now? If so, that does make some sense, especially if you look at an NFC East division that is full of teams with enormous gaping holes. The Cowboys’ offensive line is awful. The Giants had the 31st ranked defense last year. The Redskins’ secondary is a mess, their roster as a whole is underwhelming, and their star QB is an injury concern.
There’s weakness up and down the NFC East. Maybe it’s worth just saying “Screw it, let’s go win the division.”
RB (3): LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk
McCoy is clearly the 1, and while Polk had a tremendous camp, Brown is still clearly more gifted. I will note here that Chris Polk having a great camp was probably the best scenario for this RB group. Maybe that will push Brown, and the Eagles may very well have 3 very good backs. Felix Jones’ career might be over.
WR (5): DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson, Greg Salas
Wherever you have DeSean Jackson rated in your fantasy football big board, move him up. If he stays healthy, he is in for a monster year.
The next 3 guys after DeSean seem fairly obvious at this point, while the only debate left is how many receivers the Eagles keep, and who will be that 5th guy? Greg Salas has earned a spot on this team. While I like some things I saw from Russell Shepard both in terms of work ethic and on special teams, I’m giving him a year to develop on the practice squad. If I have to pay him more to keep him there so that another team doesn’t poach him away, I’ll do whatever I have to do.
TE (4): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Clay Harbor
The first 3 are locks, even with Celek having an extremely disappointing camp. Harbor has been debated quite a bit among us Eagles writers, and fans alike. I think he sticks, and I think Chip Kelly will try to use him in somewhat of a TE-WR-FB hybrid role, similar to that of Aaron Hernandez, although obviously, Harbor is not on that level.
If this were the old regime, I think Harbor would be a goner, as the team probably would have tired of his lack of production. However, I think Harbor benefited greatly by a change in staff, as he is an athletic freak that Chip Kelly might be intrigued with.
OL (9): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Lane Johnson, Dennis Kelly, Allen Barbre, Danny Watkins, Julian Vandervelde
The starters are obvious, while Barbre has become a lock. Kelly recently had shoulder surgery, so his preseason is all but over, but he should still be safe. Watkins is more expensive to cut than he is to keep, so he gets one last chance to prove he can at least be a good backup.
The remaining uncertainty is at center. Dallas Reynolds is the more polished center, but I think the team really wants to give Julian Vandervelde (AKA Bat Mandervelde) every chance to win this battle.
DL (8): Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers, Damion Square, Joe Kruger
This is the strength of the defense. It’s a very young group, and there is talent. The first 5 guys are locks, with Geathers being a “near lock.”
Square is a player who has not yet impressed me all that much, but the team likes him, so that supersedes my amateur scouting. Kruger is probably a ways away from playing in the NFL, from a “where do we put him” standpoint, but he could eventually be a guy who plays some sort of OLB/DE hybrid role. I don’t want to leave him unprotected on the practice squad.
Antonio Dixon has been out most of camp, which he could not afford.
OLB (4): Connor Barwin, Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Chris McCoy
The Eagles are in trouble on the outside if Connor Barwin gets hurt or just isn’t very good, although I like what I’ve seen from him so far. Of Barwin, Cole and Graham, Barwin is the only competent OLB is pass coverage.
Chris McCoy has stood out in camp, and had a really nice debut with the Eagles in the first preseason game. He’s the best of the remaining OLBs after the first three guys. Big guys beat up little guys, and Phillip Hunt is a little guy, so he moves on, but finds a job elsewhere.
ILB (5): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Casey Matthews, Emmanuel Acho, Jake Knott
In a small surprise, I’m keeping 5 ILBs. I like what Casey Matthews gives you on special teams, and he does have starting experience, although admittedly, it was never pretty. Acho and Knott have stood out at times, and have earned roster spots. If I’m ranking them in terms of who is most likely to make the team, Matthews is 5th. However, if either Ryans or Kendricks got hurt, I’d probably start Matthews, at least early in the season. Does that make sense?
CB (5): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, Curtis Marsh
Let’s just say that I don’t love the Eagles’ options after the first 3 guys, and leave it at that.
S (4): Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Colt Anderson
Yep, I’m keeping Nate Allen, for now, but he better show something encouraging tonight or next week in Jacksonville, or else I’d prefer to roll with a “nowhere near as good as he used to be” Kenny Phillips. Chung has clearly looked like the most competent safety of the group, Wolff is a lock as a promising rookie, and Colt is a special teams maven.
K/P/LS (3): Alex Henery, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos
OK... Have at it...