With training camp starting on Sunday when rookies (and selected veterans) report to Lehigh, it’s time to make a few early projections and attempt to forecast what the roster may look like for their Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns. Obviously, take this with a grain (or seven) of salt because we haven’t seen any of these players performing on the field at camp or in the preseason games. Still, this is how I see the roster shaping out for the upcoming season.
When looking at what the roster breakdown might look like this season, it helps to look at the roster the Eagles broke camp a year ago. That roster had 3 QBs (Vick, Young, Kafka), 4 RBs (McCoy, Brown, Lewis, Schmitt), 5 WRs (Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Cooper, Smith), 2 TEs (Celek, Harbor), 4 OTs (Peters, Herremans, Dunlap, Justice), 3 OGs (Watkins, Mathis, Vandervelde), and 2 Cs (Kelce, Jackson) for a total of 23 players on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, they had 5 DEs (Cole, Babin, Parker, Tapp, Hunt), 5 DTs (Patterson, Jenkins, Dixon, Laws, Thornton), 6 LBs (Chaney, Matthews, Fokou, Jordan, Clayton, Rolle), 6 CBs (Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, Samuel, Marsh, Lindley, Hughes), and 5 Safeties (Allen, Coleman, Page, Jarrett, Anderson) for a total of 27 defensive players, along with the 3 specialists (Henery, Henry, Dorenbos) to bring the final total to 53. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this year’s 53-man roster by position.
Quarterback: Obviously Michael Vick is a lock, and I’d assume Nick Foles will make the team as well because of his status as a 3rd round draft pick this year. That means the backup QB job will come down to Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards. I’m leaning towards Kafka because of his time spent in the organization and knowledge of the system, but if Reid wants a more veteran presence behind Vick he’ll take Edwards. QBs: 3 (Vick, Kafka, Foles)
Running Back: LeSean McCoy is a lock, and I think Dion Lewis is as well despite his recent arrest. That means the third running back job will be a competition between rookies Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Brown was a seventh round pick and Polk was undrafted, but Polk was a far more productive college player. Brown has more upside, however, and Polk is coming off a shoulder injury that caused his draft stock to plummet. Assuming his shoulder is healthy, I think Polk will outperform Brown in camp and get the 3rd RB spot, while Brown will be put on the practice squad. The only fullbacks on the current roster are undrafted rookies Jeremy Stewart from Stanford and Emil Igwenagu out of UMass and 2011 7th round pick Stanley Havili out of USC, who spent the past year on the practice squad. I’d give the edge in that battle to Havili. RBs: 4 (McCoy, Lewis, Polk, Havili)
Wide Receiver: With 12 receivers competing for 5 (or 6) spots, this figures to be one of the most competitive positions in camp. Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant are all locks. I also think Riley Cooper will make it on experience, and that Marvin McNutt will make it. McNutt was a late-round draft pick, but the 6-3 WR looks to be one of the players who could impress in camp with his large frame and athleticism. Damaris Johnson, a 5-8 undrafted rookie out of Tulsa, was very impressive in minicamp and if he continues to make a good impression on the decision-makers at camp, he could make the team a la Chad Hall. I think he falls short, but will be put on the practice squad. Notable receivers getting cut would include Chad Hall and Mardy Gilyard. WR: 5 (Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Cooper, McNutt)
Tight End: This is about as clear cut as they come: Brent Celek starting, with Clay Harbor as his backup. No discussion here. TE: 2 (Celek, Harbor)
Offensive Tackle: RT Todd Herremans is a lock to make the roster, and in the absence of Jason Peters, his replacement Demetress Bell is also a lock. The backups would appear to be King Dunlap and 2012 5th round pick Dennis Kelly. OT: 4 (Herremans, Bell, Dunlap, Kelly)
Offensive Guard: 2011 starters Evan Mathis and Danny Watkins will be on the roster, but behind them there are question marks. 2011 draftee Julian Vandervelde will likely be the third guard, and they’ll probably take a combo guard/center like Mike Gibson or Dallas Reynolds to provide depth and back up Jason Kelce. I’ll say they take Gibson, although this is a position where much needs to be determined. G: 4 (Mathis, Watkins, Vandervelde, Gibson).
Center: Jason Kelce. (see above) C: 1 (Kelce)
So there’s the offensive unit: 23 players: Vick, McCoy, Havili, Jackson, Maclin, Celek, Bell, Mathis, Kelce, Watkins, and Herremans starting, with Kafka, Foles, Lewis, Polk, Avant, Cooper, McNutt, Harbor, Dunlap, Kelly, Vandervelde, and Gibson backing them up.
Editor’s Note: We’ll be back tomorrow with a look at the defense.