Eagles: Could three 2017 draft picks possibly get cut?

MORGANTOWN, WV - OCTOBER 22: Shelton Gibson
MORGANTOWN, WV - OCTOBER 22: Shelton Gibson /

With the preseason coming to a close, three Eagles rookies are in jeopardy of not making the roster.

This Saturday, all 32 NFL teams will submit their final 53 man roster. The Philadelphia Eagles are among the 32 teams that will have to make difficult decisions in doing so. Given underwhelming performances and a lack of depth at certain positions, three drafted rookies could all be cut. Those players include Donnel Pumphrey, Shelton Gibson, and Elijah Qualls. Luckily for them, they will have one final preseason game against the New York Jets to prove themselves.

As far as the rest of the 2017 Eagles draft class, they appear to be safe. Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Mack Hollins, and Nate Gerry all appear to be locks to make the roster. When it comes to Pumphrey, Gibson, and Qualls, its now or never.

Pumphrey fumbling away an opportunity

When the Eagles selected the FBS all-time leading rusher in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, they hoped he would be the heir apparent to Darren Sproles. During this preseason, he has not lived up to expectations. The former San Diego State Aztec has looked shaky running the ball. It hasn’t been better when he stepped onto the field in the return game. He just isn’t making an impact. Then, there’s, of course, the fumbles.

Nothing drives coaches more crazy than when players put the ball on the ground. Pumphrey is also facing heavy competition from undrafted free agent Corey Clement as he’s made much more of an impact this preseason. He seems to improve each preseason game. The Eagles already have a crowded backfield as it is. With LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, and Wendell Smallwood making the team, that will probably leave only one spot available. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles coaches favor Clement over Pumphrey.

Related Story: Donnel Pumphrey versus Corey Clement: Who makes the Eagles' roster?

Gibson has dropped the ball both literally and figuratively

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It has been a rough preseason for wide receiver Shelton Gibson. Just as Pumphrey has had fumbling issues, Gibson has had his issues catching the ball, and drops have plagued him all camp.

Given the Eagles issues with drops over the past couple seasons, this probably won’t be tolerated by the coaching staff. While Gibson has struggled, guys such as Hollins, Bryce Treggs, and Marcus Johnson have all thrived. Not only have they proven that they can catch the ball, but all three have performed well in the preseason games.

If Gibson fails to make an impact on Thursday night, he could kiss his chances of making the team goodbye.

A victim of the numbers game?

Unlike Pumphrey and Gibson, Qualls has been very productive. The seventh-round draft choice has been the Eagles’ most productive pass rusher according to Pro Football Focus with 8.5 pass rush snaps. Unfortunately for Qualls, there is too much depth at defensive tackle. With Beau Allen returning from a pectoral injury, he’s currently the fourth defensive tackle listed on the depth chart. Hopefully, on Thursday night, Qualls will not only move up, but he’ll make the team.

Next: Ron Brooks released, Mitchell White waived

Will they step up?

To say that the final preseason game is make-or-break for these three rookies, would be an understatement. If they want a spot on the roster, they must stand out and make plays. If not, they will most likely have turn in their playbooks on Saturday.