With one preseason game remaining, and likely only the back end of the depth chart left to be sorted out, here’s a look at how the Eagles’ 53-man roster might be taking shape.
Quarterback (2): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles
This is taking the Eagles at their word that Foles is fine, everything is fine, which is probably a mistake. The fact the Matt McGloin played just about the entire preseason game against the Dolphins last week suggests the coaches might’ve been breaking in the emergency quarterback in case he’s needed. Under ideal circumstances, the team will only carry two.
Running back (4): LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey
Corey Clement has had a terrific offseason. He runs hard, can catch the ball out of the backfield and is solid in pass protection. That’s more than can be said for a lot of the depth chart. Still, Clement – an undrafted rookie – will probably pass through waivers and land on the practice squad, whereas another team might jump at the opportunity to pick up Pumphrey were he cut. Pumphrey hasn’t looked good, but he was a fourth-round draft pick. If the Eagles don’t deem him worthy of stashing on the 53-man roster, another team could.
Wide receiver (6): Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Marcus Johnson
Johnson’s inclusion is probably reading too much into his move from a temporary stall in the middle of the Eagles locker room to one of the permanent fixtures along the wall. A strong offseason carried over into a solid camp and preseason for Johnson, who’s probably more NFL ready than Gibson at this point. Like Pumphrey, Gibson is more stash than immediate contributor. No real surprises here otherwise.
Tight end (3): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton
There have been a few arguments for Billy Brown on the 53, but that just doesn’t seem necessary. Another team might pluck Clement off waivers. A converted wide receiver in the midst of a transition to tight end isn’t likely to help anybody 2017, especially once Brown has to learn a new system. Meanwhile, Celek and Burton have clearly defined roles on this Eagles squad, so while it may make sense to think about the future, this is the optimal depth chart for right now.
Offensive line (9): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Stefen Wisniewski, Dillon Gordon
After the top eight, it’s a bit of a mystery. Taylor Hart has surprised some people with his conversion from defensive line to offensive tackle, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Eagles keep him. Ultimately, Gordon just does more, with the option of lining up at tight end or fullback. More trades are always a possibility, but I get the sense Kelce is firmly entrenched in that starting center job, so keep on dreaming.
Defensive end (5): Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Steven Means
Alex McCalister wound up making a strong push for the roster, but Means has more value to the club on special teams. There’s a good chance McCalister will pass through waivers and make it to the practice squad as well. These are the only six ends on the 90-man roster, making this really the only discussion to be had.
Defensive tackle (5): Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls
The Eagles rolled with four interior linemen for much of the 2016 season, so this might seem heavy. That being said, the club seems to like Vaeao, while Qualls appeared to play himself back into the conversation against the Dolphins last week. There’s a good chance Qualls would pass through waivers, although he may well prove useful yet this season, too. Tough call – Justin Hamilton is intriguing as well – which is always a good sign, talent-wise.
Linebacker (6): Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Joe Walker, Don Cherry, Kamu Grugier-Hill
Najee Goode could wind up on the roster – in Week 2. He won’t be there for the opener, and with the emergence of young players like Walker, Cherry and Grugier-Hill in their backup roles and on special teams, Goode may not be necessary at all. If Kendricks somehow gets traded, his spot may go to Goode, because Nathan Gerry hasn’t shown he belongs. Gerry is transitioning from safety to linebacker, so his apparent lack of progress can be forgiven, but he would definitely clear waivers and is a prime practice-squad candidate as a result. Another addition here isn’t at all unlikely.
Cornerback (6): Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, Rasul Douglas, Jaylen Watkins, C.J. Smith
Perhaps the most difficult situation to read of all is at cornerback. Patrick Robinson has performed much better in the slot – but well enough to supplant Brooks, a Jim Schwartz-darling, or Watkins’ versatility? Possibly. The recent trade for Dexter McDougle certainly didn’t provide any clarity to the competition at nickel corner, except maybe to indicate Aaron Grymes is no longer in the mix. Trading for Darby improved the unit overall, but after he and Mills, the mess of bodies still needs to get sorted out.
Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Chris Maragos
While McDougle only added to the confusion at cornerback, trading Terrence Brooks went a long way toward solidifying the safeties. Graham is locked in as the No. 3 now with Watkins’ move to corner, and there is essentially nobody else behind him. Meaning no offense, that includes Maragos, who is pretty much a full-time special teams ace at this point.
Specialists (3): Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos
If Rick Lovato was pushing for Dorenbos’ job, we would have virtually no way of knowing it. Then again, the Eagles probably would’ve granted Dorenbos his release by now if they saw it was in the cards. (Haha, get it?!)