Friday, December 26, 2014

Who Makes The Cut: Defensive end

The Eagles will encounter tough decisions when determining their 53-man roster. They already have the number down to 79 and must get to 75 before today’s 4 p.m. deadline. During the last two weeks, The Inquirer's Eagles beat writers have tried their best to predict who stays and who goes. Final cuts are due by Aug. 31. Here’s the lineup:

Who Makes The Cut: Defensive end

Both Brandon Graham (54) and Phillip Hunt (76) are battling for roster spots at defensive end. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Both Brandon Graham (54) and Phillip Hunt (76) are battling for roster spots at defensive end. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

The Eagles will encounter tough decisions when determining their 53-man roster. They already have the number down to 79 and must get to 75 before today’s 4 p.m. deadline. During the last two weeks, The Inquirer's Eagles beat writers have tried their best to predict who stays and who goes. Final cuts are due by Aug. 31. Here’s the lineup:

Wed, Aug. 15: Offensive line
Thur., Aug. 16: Defensive tackles
Fri., Aug. 17: Cornerbacks
Mon., Aug. 20: Running backs
Tues., Aug. 21: Wide receivers / tight ends
Wed., Aug. 22: Linebackers
Thur., Aug. 23: Safeties
Fri., Aug. 24: Quarterbacks / Specialists
Mon., Aug. 27: Defensive ends

DEFENSIVE ENDS

LIKELY TO KEEP: 5-6.

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WHO STAYS: Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt, Darryl Tapp.

WHO GOES: , Frank Trotter, Monte Taylor.

ALREADY CUT: Xavier Brown.

One of Andy Reid and Howie Roseman’s toughest decisions before Friday’s deadline will come at defensive end. Or will it? They could just keep all six, as I’ve predicted they will. Reid stresses the importance of line play, and we know everything starts up front as he is wont to say.

The problem with keeping all six is you have to go a little light somewhere else. But as I was recently told, “Once you get to 50 you start taking the best players.” So if it came down to keeping Tapp as a sixth defensive end or Dallas Reynolds as a ninth offensive linemen, based on that premise, it’s fairly easy to decipher who the Eagles would keep.

There is no doubt Roseman has fielded calls about Hunt and Tapp. Hunt would be easier to move because of his salary (approximately $600,000). But the Eagles aren’t going to trade him for that reason and because, well, he’s been their best end during the preseason. Tapp, who is entering the last year of his contract, is set to make around $2.6 million. The Eagles probably wouldn’t mind unloading that salary if they really decided to keep five ends.

They really only need to activate four ends on game days, and with defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and possibly Fletcher Cox likely to play more downs on the outside, what good would there be in keeping six? They have dressed five on game days before, however.

Some have suggested that the Eagles could come up with a phantom injury for Vinny Curry and place him on Injured Reserve for the season. But there are several reasons why that is very unlikely to happen – 1. You don’t IR second-round draft picks. You want them to play as soon as possible. 2. Curry has already shown that he can compete at this level. Is he behind the others? Sure. But not by much. 3. Teams can’t get away with stowing developmental-type players on IR as they used to. Plus, the punishment if you get caught – lost draft picks – is too severe.

As for the roster shoo-ins, Graham would probably be the odd man out if he wasn’t a top draft pick – Roseman’s first as GM. He’s had his moments during training camp and the preseason, but Hunt and Tapp have simply been better. Graham didn’t play as much with the first team rotation against the Browns on Friday, but the Eagles may have been trying to show teams more tape of Tapp and Hunt against a starting offensive line.

Cole and Babin will be the first two ends out on the field. Cole will turn 30 in October, but he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Babin missed most of the camp and will miss all of the preseason with a calf injury. Reid said Sunday that Babin is scheduled to return in time for the opener. The number of snaps he plays this season could decrease some if the Eagles plan on using Jenkins more on the outside on first down.

About this blog
Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
Zach Berman Inquirer Staff Writer
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