Final Eagles 53 Man Roster Prediction
When I made one of these before camp, I thought it would be pretty accurate to the one I made after the preseason. But looking back at it now, it is pretty different.
The Eagles have a few really tough decisions to make before the deadline on August 31st at 4 PM.
Here is my final educated guess of the 53 guys that will be on the Eagles to start the season.
The Eagles made another dip into the quarterback market this morning, trading a conditional 6th round pick for Gardner Minshew with Jacksonville. Minshew will currently slot in at QB3, mainly because the Eagles paid Flacco an excessive amount of money. People have brought out the potential of Flacco now being traded, which is possible, but I don't see it happening. Also, expect Jalen Hurts to officially be named the starting QB soon.
Before camp, I did not think Howard would be anymore then a camp body who is trying to continue playing in the NFL. But after he took RB2 reps in the Eagles first preseason game, and then was rested for the past two games, it seems pretty clear he'll be on this roster. Sanders and Scott are also locks, with Scott having a great 49 yard touchdown in last nights game. Gainwell has also shown great flashes in camp and the preseason games. Jason Huntley is a guy I didn't like to cut here, but he'll most likely make his way to the practice squad as he continues to develop.
Please don't hate me. Yes, I have JJ Arcega-Whiteside making the Eagles roster in 2021. As much as I don't agree with JJAW even sniffing a roster spot, this is a prediction, not what I believe should happen. So after his touchdown run last night, I think he did well enough to beat out John Hightower for the final WR spot. Fulgham is such an interesting case. Last season he looked like the best WR in the NFL for a 5 week period, but went into the Doug Pederson doghouse and barely played the rest of the season. He really hasn't been impressive at all during training camp and the preseason games, even fumbling into the back of the end zone against the Jets. I think he makes it as WR5 based off his resume alone, but it would not shock me if he is a surprise cut. Hightower did alright last night but in the end I think he is practice squad bound.
In a rare case where my prediction from before camp is unchanged, the Eagles keep their core tight ends along with Rodgers. I really think the Eagles should trade Ertz, but at this point it doesn't seem like they will, so he'll stay and be TE2 behind Goedert. I actually struggled with the 3rd spot here, deciding between Rodgers, Tyree Jackson and Jack Stoll. Jackson is out for 8-10 weeks, but he was so impressive in camp and you obviously don't want to lose him. My guess is that the Eagles just place him on injured reserve, ending his season and resuming his development in 2022. I picked Rodgers over Stoll in the end just based off experience, as they can most likely get Stoll on the practice squad and call him up if Rodgers disappoints.
The first 5 I listed there will be the starting offensive line on September 12th, and the Eagles have to be thrilled that they have them all back healthy for now. Assuming he is not traded, Dillard will just have to be a solid backup tackle until they can figure out what to do with him. Driscoll is also a lock, after playing some last year and training to be a guard during camp. Herbig and Opeta will both be backup guards. The only tough cuts here were Le'Raven Clark, the veteran tackle that was signed this offseason, and Kayode Awosika, the UDFA who really impressed this preseason.
All 4 of these guys are roster locks, with Graham being the starter and the other 3 rotating for playing time. I definitely thought about keeping 7th Round Pick Tarron Jackson, but after a meh performance in camp he'll just have to stick with the practice squad for now. Milton Williams could fit under this group as well, although he is primarily a defensive tackle.
The guy who improved his stock the most on Friday night, to me, was TY McGill. I talked about it in this mornings article, but McGil had 2 sacks and 2 TFLs last night. McGill was competing with Hassan Ridgeway for that last defensive tackle spot, but I think that competition was complete after yesterday. Ridgeway was actually my final cut out of everyone, as I really wanted to keep 5 defensive tackles but couldn't find room for him. He was considered by most to be close to roster lock before camp, but has really decreased his stock. Marlon Tuipulotu made a case against the Jets, but I don't think showed enough to beat out McGill or Ridgeway. We don't need to talk about Cox, Hargrave or Williams, who have all proved their worth this offseason.
The linebacker position still needs work, but the Eagles have had much needed improvement there over the past few months. Singleton, Edwards and Wilson are the presumed starters, with many other young guys competing for depth. Davion Taylor was really the only other guy I was sure about in this group, although even he has been battling an injury for most of camp. Stevens has been dealing with an injury all camp but I like his versatility and his upside. I went back and forth over Shaun Bradley, but I think his solid performance last night pushed him over enough. That left me with one spot left for Patrick Johnson or Genard Avery. Both of these guys have been playing the new SAM position in Jonathan Gannon's defense, but Avery has recently dealt with injuries to both sides of his groin. As much as Howie Roseman would love to keep Avery to prove his trading of a 4th rounder for him, I think the Eagles stick with the youth movement and keep Johnson. I think Avery will ether be traded for a late round pick or picked up on waivers by someone else.
Slay, Nelson and Maddox are all locked in at the starting spots. I think McPhearson has also done enough to be considered as a roster lock, rebounding after a rough game against the Patriots. That leaves the final corner spot to Craig James, Michael Jacquet or Kevon Seymour. I gave the last spot to James because of his role on special teams, which isn't as significant with the other two. Jacquet has all the physical attributes of a corner but just can't cover, and Seymour just isn't good enough.
Although it is unclear if McLeod will be ready for Week 1 or not, he should be on the roster to start the season regardless. The question remains that if Rodney is not ready, who will start at safety across from Harris? K'Von Wallace has always been a fan favorite, but I'm not sure he has shown enough in a real game setting to make you sure. My guess would be Epps, who I thought has had an underrated camp and really shocked me. The last spot is between Adams and Elijah Riley, which is a complete toss up for me. I'm going to go ahead and guess Adams wins it, but honestly it could be ether. The one who just missed should find his way on the PS.
All 3 of these guys have gone throughout camp with no competition.
RB Jason Huntley
WR John Hightower
WR Andre Patton
WR Marken Michel
TE Jack Stoll
G Kayode Awosika
T Brett Toth
DE Tarron Jackson
DT Marlon Tuipulotu
CB Josiah Scott
CB Michael Jacquet
CB Kevon Seymour
S Elijah Riley
DT Hassan Ridgeway
S Grayland Arnold
T Le'Raven Clark
DE Matt Leo*
*= International Exemption
I have talked about every one of these guys above or in last night's article, but not many surprises here. Matt Leo will be the "17th man" on the practice squad since he is exempt from the roster.