Below are my projections for the Eagles’ 53-man roster, which will be announced within the next 30 hours. There are some close calls to make, mostly involving where to carry an extra player due to special teams skills. After the official roster is released, we’ll take a look back and see just how accurate the predictions were.
QB (3): Kevin Kolb, Mike Vick, Mike Kafka
This is as simple as it gets. The Eagles will carry three, there are three on the roster and that’s all there is to it.
RB/FB (4): LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley, Leonard Weaver
I expect Buckley to beat out J.J. Arrington and Martell Mallett due to his extra experience and ability to backup Leonard Weaver at the fullback position. I have Arrington as one of the first few guys missing the roster.
TE (3): Brent Celek, Cornelius Ingram, Clay Harbor
This is a tough call – do the Eagles keep three? It’d be risky to keep just two, with the injury riddled Ingram as the backup. At the same time, Ingram has so much upside you don’t want to get rid of him either. The Birds might try to stash Harbor on the practice squad, as he’s one of my last guys in.
WR (6): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Hank Baskett, Kelley Washington
This is more like five receivers and one special teamer. My prediction is that Washington is battling more with the likes of Tracy White than Hank Baskett. I think the veteran receiver sneaks onto the 53-man as a star special teams player.
OT (4): Jason Peters, Winston Justice, Austin Howard, King Dunlap
I think the Birds go with Dunlap over Fenuki Tupou, who I see landing on the practice squad this season.
OG (4): Todd Herremans, Stacy Andrews, Nick Cole, Max Jean-Gilles
These spots are pretty straight forward.
C (2): Jamaal Jackson, Mike McGlynn
McGlynn has looked much better than A.Q. Shipley, who probably lands on the practice squad.
DE (5): Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim
Those five are locks, and I think the Eagles will go with five defensive ends and four defensive tackles. While I liked what I saw from Pannel Ebgoh last night, he was acquired too late to have a real shot at the roster. Expect the former Stanford Cardinal to end up on the practice squad.
DT (4): Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon
The first three are locks, and I think Dixon did enough to hold off Boo Robinson and Jeff Owens. One of those two will probably end up on the practice squad. If the Eagles were to mix things up a bit, they could keep three tackles since both Tapp and Te’o-Nesheim have lined up inside in Nickel situations throughout camp and the preseason. That would open up a spot for an extra defensive end or linebacker.
LB (6): Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan, Omar Gaither, Moise Fokou, Keenan Clayton
There’s a logjam here from fifth through eighth. I think Fokou is a cut above the others, and Clayton has impressed. Jamar Chaney is probably a good candidate for the practice squad, as the seventh round pick has a great chance of clearing waivers. Tracy White makes a case for keeping seven with his special teams play, but I think the Eagles go with Kelley Washington, a wideout, instead.
CB (5): Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson, Dimitri Patterson, Trevard Lindley
I’m pretty sure all of these guys are locks, and I’m also pretty sure Jorrick Calvin just misses the roster after being acquired from Arizona for Charles Scott. Calvin’s intrigue comes in his return skills, particularly if the Eagles don’t want to use DeSean Jackson and Ellis Hobbs in those roles. I think Calvin goes to the practice squad in case the Birds choose to take Jackson or Hobbs out of the return game during the season.
FS (2): Nate Allen, Macho Harris
While it’s unfair to call the backup free safety the 53rd man on the roster, Macho Harris may be the guy who lands on the team after having come closest to missing out. He and Quintin Demps are both talented players who haven’t reached their full potential, but I think Harris stays for two reasons. He’s younger, and he may get the benefit of the doubt after having been switched back and forth between safety and cornerback.
SS (2): Quintin Mikell, Kurt Coleman
Coleman was a lock before he returned two fumbles for touchdowns last night. The rookie had a stellar training camp and shouldn’t lose any sleep tonight.
ST (3): David Akers, Sav Rocca, Jon Dorenbos
They may be listed last, but these spots are as safe as the three quarterbacks.
Practice Squad (10): J.J. Arrington, Jorrick Calvin, Jamar Chaney, Tracy White, Pannel Ebgoh, Boo Robinson, Jordan Norwood, A.Q. Shipley, Jeraill McCuller, Dallas Reynolds
Don’t hold it against me when the Eagles sign a few outsiders to the practice squad, making it impossible to predict. Also, I think White and Norwood will be in danger of being snatched off waivers. Who of the 10 came closest to the 53-man? Probably White, for his special teams skills. If the Eagles go with two tight ends or five receivers, White would be the guy grabbing a spot in my opinion.
Surprise Cuts (1): Quintin Demps
I don’t know that it’s a shock at this point, but he’s an Eagle who’s seen plenty of playing time and never been listed lower than second on the depth chart this preseason. He wouldn’t clear waivers to make the practice squad, so Philadelphia probably won’t even try. I think Demps spot goes to Macho Harris, who gets one more year to prove his worth. The 25-year-old safety could still make the team if the Eagles go with five receivers or two tight ends, but my gut feeling is that he’s gone.