Eagles Pre-Camp 53 Man Roster Prediction
With training camp less then a week away, the time is now to look at the roster.
Although so many things can change between now and August 31st; when rosters are required to be cut down to 53, we have a general idea of how the roster will go.
I'll take a crack at it. Let me know if I miss anybody.
Considering the Eagles currently have no other quarterbacks on the roster, this wasn't an entirely tough decision. After cutting Jamie Newman, the Eagles signed former 49er Nick Mullens to fill that role of QB3. Hurts is obviously the starter, and with the money they have committed to Flacco, he'll be QB2. No arguments here.
So, assuming Sanders avoids any injuries during camp, he will be the #1 Running Back as he has been the past few seasons. The challenge comes after that, deciding between a couple of guys. I would be pretty shocked if the Eagles kept more than 4 running backs, so that leaves us with a decision between Scott, Gainwell, Johnson, Howard, Huntley, Killins and Holyfield. I'm pretty confident in Scott because of his track record and Gainwell because of his high draft selection, barring a horrible camp performance from ether of them. That left the last spot for me between Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Howard, as the other two are way too unproven(most likely will both get practice squad spots). In the end, I guess I just think that Kerryon will have a better camp. Because of the new coaching staff, Howard really has no advantage over Johnson besides from the fact that he has more experience. I really think the Eagles found a steal after the claimed Johnson off waivers, and could hopefully fill in if he is needed.
Let's pencil in Smith and Reagor in right away, as the back-to-back 1st round picks will obviously be making it. I'll go ahead and say Greg Ward is almost a guarantee also. You still really don't know what you have with Travis Fulgham, but that stretch of games last season is good enough to guarantee he stays around for at least one more season. The last spot came down to Watkins, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, John Hightower and a couple of UDFAs. Unless one of them has an incredible camp, let's assume we have to decide on the 3 I named. Quez Watkins saw limited time in his rookie season, but clearly formed a connection with Jalen Hurts and personally impressed me. Arcega-Whiteside has been one of the worst picks in Eagles history, and I have no idea how anyone could justify sticking him on the roster. In the end, Hightower is someone I'd love to keep on the practice squad, but I just prefer Watkins over him. I think Hightower has some serious dropping issues, something we didn't see from Quez. I would not be mad in any way if they keep Watkins and Hightower or just Hightower, but Quez has shown more to me.
Alright, hear me out. Goedert and Rodgers, I don't think anyone will disagree with. Goedert might get a big contract extension before the season, and Rodgers was signed about a month ago after a nice season for the Birds. Ertz has been an incredible question mark. After breaking down into tears at a press conference after the season ended, people were sure Ertz would be traded or released. I said publicly that I had no doubts in my mind that Zach Ertz won't be an Eagle next season. So why has my mind changed? Multiple reasons. One, there have now been reports that Ertz will be attending camp, and the issues between the two parties have apparently been resolved for the time being. Second, I know that the Eagles won't budge with their asking price in a trade. Months ago, reports said that the Eagles wanted more then a 5th or 6th round pick for Ertz in a trade, and were not interested in granting him a release. So now, as crazy as it seems, Zach Ertz will probably be TE 2/3 on this roster for now.
As far as we know, the starting offensive line will be Mailata/Dillard, Seumalo, Kelce, Brooks, Johnson. The biggest question mark going into camp is obviously the competition of Mailata and Dillard, which I have already discussed in a previous article. There has been some speculation on wether Landon Dickerson could potentially steal the Left Guard spot in camp, but considering we are unaware of his health, he'll stick in a backup role for now. There were really no tough decisions to be made here, with the only other player I considered being Le'Raven Clark. This offensive line has the potential to be Top 5-10 in the NFL, but as always, they will need to stay healthy.
Cornerback is by far the Eagles weakest position on the entire team, and that is coming from the biggest Darius Slay fan in the universe. Slay is obviously there and he'll be the #1 guy again after a up and down season last year. The question is, who is available after him? You'd like to say you can be confident in Avonte Maddox, but I'm not sure he can ever play outside corner again after last year. After that you have a mix of a bunch of unproven guys, especially Zech McPhearson. I loved the pick at the time, and I think he'll make a great corner someday, but this early? He needs more time. He'll be on the roster, but him being the favorite for CB2 is scary. That leaves me with the next two, Craig James and Michael Jacquet, two guys who have been on this roster previously but have definitely not shown great success. Even if you don't like his ability, James will be here because of his time with the special teams unit. In terms of Jacquet, I just chose him over guys like Graynold Arnold and Josiah Scott because I've seen more of him. Jacquet was boarderline awful last season, but he has some of the physical attributes you'd like out of a corner. I could see the Eagles taking a 6th corner on this roster, but even beyond that, I still think they'll sign a corner before the season begins. Wether that be Steven Nelson, Richard Sherman, Brian Poole or Josh Norman.
For a position that the Eagles have been notably bad at recently, this years group is definitely looking up. Alex Singleton was great last year, stepping up after even more injuries caused the Eagles to be thin at LB. Eric Wilson was a sneaky good signing, especially because he is someone that knows Jonathan Gannon's system already. The other linebackers fighting to get time include Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley, both second-year players who should show more this season. TJ Edwards was a bit worse then I think people are talking about in 2020, but he's a decent piece and should see significant time again. The only player I didn't like sending away was Patrick Johnson, the 7th Round selection out of Tulane. I think it will come down to him versus JaCoby Stevens, with Stevens winning because of his versatility.
The Eagles again replenished their best unit(in my opinion) this offseason, taking Milton Williams in the 3rd Round and signing Ryan Kerrigan to a 1 Year Deal. Fletcher Cox is still here, as dominant as ever, with his running mate Javon Hargrave finally accumulating to his new system. Brandon Graham had one of the best seasons of his career last year, and Josh Sweat/Derek Barnett have shown flashes to make them compete for the other edge spot. The depth isn't as good as it has been in the past, but guys like Hassan Ridgeway and Marlon Tuipulotu have a chance to step up. I considered placing Gernard Avery here, but at this point I'm not sure his potential will ever be unlocked. There have been rumblings of him potentially moving to linebacker next season, so we'll just see how that plays out.
Safety has been an underrated need for the Eagles for a while, and they addressed it slightly with the signing of Anthony Harris. Harris is another guy who knows Jonathan Gannon's system, and we'll see if he can play his way into another contract. McLeod was excellent last season until tearing his ACL in the later weeks. It is unknown if McLeod will even be ready for Week 1, but his health really should make the difference for this group. Wallace, the former 4th Round Pick, didn't have much time to show what he can do in 2020. The Eagles have high expectations for him, but especially with the McLeod injury, Wallace will have to step up this season. Marcus Epps has been on the Eagles for a little bit now, mostly for his roles on special teams. Andrew Adams was one of the first signings the Eagles made this offseason, and has some NFL experience. I decided to keep him here for depth, mainly because the Eagles really do not have any other options on the roster.
Although he had one of his worst seasons last year, Elliott's contract is too heavy to move on from so he will be the kicker next year. Rick Lovato will be retuning as well. The only change will be at Punter, as Cam Johnston signed with the Texans. Arryn Siposs is the expected starting punter for next season, who the Eagles signed to a futures contract back in January. Siposs was a starter for Auburn in his college days, and spent most of last year on the Lions practice squad. Theres a chance the Eagles bring in a late camp body to compete with him, but for now Siposs is the starting guy.