The Eagles will kick off their 2021 preseason on Thursday night when they host the Steelers, which means it’s time for the first unofficial depth chart of the season.
As a reminder, these depth charts are put together by the Eagles’ public relations staff, so it’s not like this is ripped straight from Nick Sirianni’s notebook.
So we have to take this depth chart with a grain of salt, but we can still have some fun.
Here’s a look at the full depth chart:
Let’s go through each position and give some thoughts:
No surprises here. Jalen Hurts has taken every first-team rep this summer and will start on Thursday night against the Steelers. He’ll also be the Week 1 starter even though Sirianni still hasn’t named him the Week 1 starter. We all know the situation here.
I’m surprised Jordan Howard is listed ahead of Boston Scott. Based on what we’ve seen at practice, he shouldn’t be. Scott has been mixing in with the first team after Miles Sanders. Running back has been one of the most fun battles to watch. Sanders and Scott are the safest backs on the roster and Gainwell is likely safe too as a fifth-round pick. That means that Howard, Kerryon Johnson and Jason Huntley are all battling for a spot.
Having Howard as the second-stringer might just be a nod for the most veteran back in camp. But he’s still very much fighting for a roster spot with those other guys.
I think this is fair, having DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward listed as the starting wideouts. Of course, we haven’t seen Smith and Reagor together in team drills yet this summer, so it’s hard to say for sure. I think it’s possible Reagor gets more reps in the slot, which might open up an outside spot for Travis Fulgham or Quez Watkins, who is having a great training camp.
I agree with Hightower’s being buried some on this depth chart. He was having an up-and-down camp before an injury that has him listed as week-to-week.
And JJAW as the backup slot is pretty indicative of what we’ve seen in 11 practices. Although, as I said, keep Reagor in mind for more slot reps.
The PR staff didn’t want to declare a winner in the left tackle battle but I’m happy to: It’s Jordan Mailata. So while he and Andre Dillard are listed as co-starting left tackles, I’d have Mailata firmly ahead of him. And now Dillard is week-to-week with a knee sprain.
The rest of the OL depth chart seems to line up, although I’d probably list Nate Herbig as a top backup guard and Luke Juriga as the top backup center.
Agains, the PR staff wanted no part of naming a starting tight end, but this one is more justified. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert have been splitting first-team reps all summer and have been out there together in 12 personnel too. Ertz is having a very good camp and Goedert is building a rapport with Hurts.
The only thing I disagree with is UDFA Jack Stoll ahead of Tyree Jackson. Jackson has outplayed the rookie this summer and is pushing for a roster spot.
I agree with the co-starters at the defensive end position opposite Brandon Graham. Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett have been alternating and both have looked very good. Sweat has been the talk of camp but Barnett has quietly had a very great summer as well.
The Eagles have rookie Milton Williams listed as a defensive tackle, but he’s played end some to this summer. Hassan Ridgeway deserves to be listed as a second-stringer but veteran T.Y. McGill has outplayed him in my opinion.
You might be surprised to see Genard Avery listed as a starter at SAM but based on what we’ve seen at camp, that’s probably accurate for now. Do I think Avery will actually be a starter in Week 1? No. But that Avery/Joe Ostman/Patrick Johnson position — we need a name for it, by the way — is clearly a part of Gannon’s defense. At least it has been for training camp. Gannon has said he’s still figuring out how that role will fit in his defense. As of now, I’m not exactly sure. I still think T.J. Edwards should be the third starter in the base defense.
As for the MIKE and WILL, I think this is right. Eric Wilson and Alex Singleton are the Eagles’ two true starting linebackers and Edwards and Davion Taylor are after them.
You’ll notice that the two starting safeties are Anthony Harris and K’Von Wallace. That’s because Rodney McLeod is still on the PUP list and Wallace has gotten the most first-team reps of the backups. But Marcus Epps and Andrew Adams have also rotated in.
At corner, Darius Slay, Steve Nelson and Avonte Maddox are clearly the starters. I think rookie Zech McPhearson is the next guy up outside. You could make an argument that Craig James should be ahead of Michael Jacquet. Even if he isn’t on the defensive pecking order, James might have a better shot to make the team given his special teams skills.
A little surprised that they have the punt returners in this order: Reagor, Smith, Ward. I still think Reagor will be used situationally and I’m not convinced Michael Clay will get the go-ahead to use Smith at all. Ward is the most sure-handed of the group and had 21 of their 26 punt returns last season.
At kick returner, interesting to see that Boston Scott isn’t even listed. He had 28 of the Eagles’ 31 returns last season. Quez Watkins has not returned an NFL kick, Gainwell is a rookie and Huntley had just two last season. If any of those three ends up back there, though, the Eagles will have some more pure speed at that spot.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast:
Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube