Training camp is over, the Eagles have a 53-man roster, opening day is a little more than a week away and it's a good time to take a step back and look at where the roster is heading into the regular season.
As usual, the strength of this football team is the two lines. It's been that way since Andy Reid was here. And nine years after he last coached a game here, a few guys he drafted remain the heart of those lines and the heart of this team.
Let's take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the roster Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni came up with:
Quarterback: I like the makeup of this group, and the biggest question surrounding the organization obviously is how good will Jalen Hurts be, and that will ultimately determine how good this position group is. But I like what the Eagles have done here. An exciting 23-year-old starter with a world of potential, an aging-but-still-effective former Super Bowl MVP at No. 2 and a third-stringer who’s started a bunch of games and played at a high level. And all this with a combined 2021 cap figure of $3.8 million, which gives the Eagles the third-lowest QB payroll in the NFL. And there’s flexibility here since Flacco is on a one-year deal and Minshew signed at minimum wage through 2022. Minshew will likely be No. 2 next year, and if Hurts does falter you have a 25-year-old with 37 career TDs and 11 INTs waiting in the wings.
Running back: In Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott, you have three versatile young backs who can all run and catch — assuming Sanders gets past his drops issue. I wish there were a little more variety here, but Jordan Howard — a tough inside runner and willing blocker — is on the practice squad and I would think will have a role. But for what Nick Sirianni wants — backs who can make plays both as runners and receivers — it’s a decent group.
Wide receiver: A lot of talent and a lot of questions. The entire group has 133 career catches (Greg Ward 81, Jalen Reagor 31 and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside 14, Quez Watkins 7), or about 40 fewer catches than Justin Jefferson and Terry McLaurin had last year. There is obvious potential. DeVonta Smith has a real shot to be a star. Reagor has had flashes this summer, although not the consistency you want. Watkins looks fantastic. Ward is a calming influence and a reliable slot. A lot of potential here. But ultimately this group’s success will be determined by how well the two first-round picks play, and considering the Eagles’ history drafting wide receivers it makes sense not to get too excited just yet.
Tight end: It sure looked unlikely a few months ago, but here we are with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, who are both top-10 tight ends when healthy. The challenge for Sirianni will be keeping both of them happy and involved, since this is not an offense that historically has used a ton of 12 personnel (two TEs, two WRs, one RB). Ertz and Goedert are both free agents after this year, which adds another dimension to the equation. Stats equals money. The Eagles want their young WRs on the field, but you can’t play everybody. So in the big picture there’s a dilemma, but you can’t argue with the talent here.
Offensive line: This position has been a priority since Big Red was here, and the Eagles have an older group but potentially one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. Tackle depth is a question mark, especially with Jack Driscoll starting the season on IR. But it’s tough to beat Mailata-Seumalo-Kelce-Brooks-Johnson. And they may be even better with Landon Dickerson at left guard. When this group is healthy, the offense is going to have a chance to do a lot of big things.
Defensive line: Best position on the team. Good luck blocking Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox. And if Derek Barnett can ever live up to being the 14th pick, if four-time Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan has anything left and if rookie Milton Williams can add inside and outside depth off the bench it will make this group even better. Should be very good both rushing the QB and against the run.
Linebacker: This is a typical group of Eagles linebackers — undrafted guys, late-round picks, CFL alums. Not one of the seven LBs on the roster was a top-100 pick. So it’s a bunch of hard-working, overachieving guys who don’t cost much. The big upgrade is Eric Wilson, who had three INTs and three sacks with the Vikings last year in his first year as a full-time starter. Wilson and Alex Singleton will get the most playing time, T.J. Edwards is solid depth, and we’ll see about the rest. The Eagles would like to get Davion Taylor involved, but he can’t stay healthy. It’s a young group, averaging 24 years old. A lot of youth and inexperience.
Cornerback: The addition of Steve Nelson gives the Eagles their best 1-2 outside corner talent since Asante and Sheldon in 2009. With the pressure the d-line should generate, Darius Slay and Nelson should have the opportunity to make a lot of plays in the back end. Avonte Maddox is back in the slot, where he belongs. The question mark is outside depth. Right now, rookie Zech McPhearson is the top outside backup, and he has some promise but remains a work in progress. Overall, a solid group, but I wouldn't mind an experienced third outside corner.
Safety: If Rodney McLeod is ready for the opener, you feel good about McLeod and Anthony Harris as your starters. If not? You’re looking at K’Von Wallace or Marcus Epps starting until McLeod is ready. The Eagles’ secondary depth overall isn’t great, and the drop-off from the starters to the backups at safety is a concern. It’s one position I’d expect the Eagles to continue looking for help.
Specialists: The big question here is which Jake Elliott are we going to get? The guy who made 84 percent of his kicks his first three seasons or the guy who made 74 percent of his kicks last year with a couple of ridiculous misses? Elliott kicked the ball very well in the preseason, but he’s got to show he can still do it when it counts. Punter Arryn Siposs has looked OK in his first summer here, and Rick Lovato remains Rick Lovato.