The Eagles take on the New York Jets in the preseason finale tonight (and not a moment too soon), and the rosters must be cut down to 53 by Friday night at 9:00 PM. With that in mind, let’s look at who the locks are on the roster, who is still fighting for a job, and what jobs are still available.
On offense, the locks are as follows:
QB-Michael Vick, Nick Foles
RB-Lesean McCoy, Dion Lewis
WR-Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson
TE-Brent Celek, Clay Harbor
OT-Todd Herremans, King Dunlap, Demetress Bell, Dennis Kelly
OG-Evan Mathis, Danny Watkins
That’s 18 locks on the offensive side of the ball. My projections have had the offense at 24 roster spots. So what jobs are available?
- 3rd-string QB. The competitors are Mike Kafka, who has been injured for the vast majority of the preseason, and veteran Trent Edwards. Kafka has the upper hand right now, but a stellar performance from Edwards in his roughly 3 quarters of playing time tonight could change that.
- 3rd-string RB. Competitors: Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Brown has shown a lot more as a runner than Polk has, but Polk is a better pass protector and blocker in general. Brown has the upper hand by a good margin.
- FB. Stanley Havili and Emil Igwenagu have seen the snaps at FB this preseason, but the competition is really between Havili and Chris Polk. Polk’s upside is much higher than Havili’s, and if the Eagles decide that they think Polk can handle lead-blocking duties for Lesean McCoy on the infrequent occasions when they are needed, Polk will be kept over Havili. Right now, however, Havili is in the lead for the job.
- 6th WR. Competitors: Marvin McNutt, Mardy Gilyard, Chad Hall. McNutt has the most upside, but he hasn’t shown anything at all in the preseason. Hall’s game is largely redundant with the emergence of Damaris Johnson. Gilyard is also a similar player to Johnson, but he’s a better option for the team than Chad Hall. Right now I’d give Hall the edge, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him cut when Riley Cooper is ready to play again in Week 2 or 3 and have the team pick up another DB or LB. The team could also just go with 5 WRs, but that would leave them with only 4 healthy WRs for the first couple weeks of the season, a risky proposition.
- Backup G. Julian Vandervelde seems to be all by himself in this competition (Mike Gibson and Brandon Washington are other options), but he hasn’t played well enough to be considered a lock yet.
- Backup C. Steve Vallos and Dallas Reynolds are fighting for the spot. Vallos has been working with the 2nd team for much of the preseason, but Reynolds is a BYU alum (where Andy Reid went to school) and has spent 3 years on the Eagles’ practice squad
On defense, here are the locks:
DE-Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Phillip Hunt
DT-Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Cedric Thornton
LB-Demeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Akeem Jordan, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews
CB-Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Joselio Hanson, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh
S-Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman
I’ve had the defense carrying 26 players in past updates, so we’ll use that figure. There are 22 locks listed here. So what are the 4 spots up for grabs?
- DL depth. Daryl Tapp has certainly played well enough at DE this preseason to make the team, but with the glut of talented ends on the roster he might have more value to the Eagles in a trade. Antonio Dixon has struggled at DT this preseason, but might make the roster as a 5th DT as a big-bodied run stopper to provide depth since there is uncertainty about Mike Patterson’s potential to play at all this season.
- DB depth. There figure to be 9-10 DBs kept on the roster. I’ve got 7 listed here. Brandon Hughes is probably the next CB if they decide to keep 6. However, if they keep 11 DL (a real possibility), there will only be 9 DB spots available. They’ll have to decide whether to divide that as 5 CBs/4 safeties or 6 CBs/3 safeties. If it’s the former, OJ Atogwe and Jaiquawn Jarrett will likely make the team as the 3rd/4th safeties. If it’s the latter, Hughes will be the 6th CB and Atogwe will likely beat out Jarrett for the 3rd safety spot.
- LB depth? It’s unlikely, but the Eagles could decide to keep 7 LBs and Keenan Clayton would be the beneficiary of that decision.
Topics: 53-man Roster, Antonio Dixon, Brandon Hughes, Bryce Brown, Chad Hall, Chris Polk, Dallas Reynolds, Darryl Tapp, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Keenan Clayton, Mardy Gilyard, Marvin McNutt, OJ Atowge, Philadelphia Eagles, Stanley Havili, Steve Vallos