Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster as 2019 training camp heats up

Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster as 2019 training camp heats up

One week into Eagles training camp, competitions are heating up. But until the team gets a preseason game or two in, I’m not sure how much the depth chart has changed dramatically over the last eight days.

My guess is somewhere between 10-12 roster spots are up for grabs here, with injuries and special teams performance to drive a lot of those difficult decisions. In the meantime, here’s my first crack at how the 53-man roster could shake out come Aug. 31.

QB (2): Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld

I haven’t seen enough of Clayton Thorson yet to argue he doesn’t merit a roster spot, but based on what I do know, there’s a chance the Eagles stash him on the practice squad. A strong preseason can change that assessment.

RB (4): Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement

Of the backs vying for the fourth spot, Clement has the most to offer. He’s a core-four special teamer, can returns kicks and played a regular role in the offense the last two seasons. Josh Adams and Boston Scott have practice squad eligibility, while Wendell Smallwood will probably welcome the opportunity to go someplace the backfield is a little less crowded.

WR (5): Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins

Not only did Hollins post a 72.7 catch percentage as a rookie in 2017, he played 50.8 percent of the Eagles’ special teams snaps as well. If he can get healthy and stay that way, it’s an upgrade over Shelton Gibson, who played 34.9 percent of special teams snaps with Hollins out of the picture last year and has three career receptions.

TE (4): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers, Joshua Perkins

Wouldn’t go so far as to call Rodgers a lock, but Perkins’ best shot to make the roster lies in the Eagles carrying four tight ends. It’s plausible given Goedert could be in line for an expanded role in the offense.

OL (9): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jordan Mailata

Is Vaitai a trade candidate? Consider the evidence. He’s in the final year of his contract. The Eagles have him working at guard after adding Mailata and Dillard in consecutive drafts. And even there, Big V faces competition from Matt Pryor, who held his spot on the 53 all last season. I have a hunch it might be Pryor over Vaitai once the right swap comes along.

DE (6): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Joe Ostman, Shareef Miller

I’m not projecting Ostman for double-digit sacks or anything. His biggest contribution to this roster is on special teams — though he is making a lot of noise in camp. It’s fair to say he’s ahead of Miller right now anyway.

DT (4): Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan, Hassan Ridgeway

It’s hard to leave playoff hero Treyvon Hester off my 53, but I just can’t make the numbers work. Maybe he beats out Ridgeway. Then again, the Eagles traded their seventh-round pick to the Colts to acquire him, so they obviously liked him.

LB (6): Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Zach Brown, L.J. Fort, Nathan Gerry, Alex Singleton

Undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards out of Wisconsin is a really fascinating prospect who probably has a shot, but Singleton has really stood out to me. The first-year player’s athleticism is apparent, not to mention he was a two-time CFL All-Star, won the league’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award in 2017 and was a special teams standout. Intriguing battle right there.

CB (6): Ronald Darby, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Orlando Scandrick, Cre’Von LeBlanc

LeBlanc’s injury complicates matters, as he was a prime trade candidate in a deep group of corners. As of now it’s looking like Jalen Mills could start the regular season on the physically unable to perform list, freeing at least one roster spot — perhaps buying the Eagles time to get LeBlanc back on the field and showcase him for potential suitors.

S (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Tre Sullivan

If the Eagles aren’t down a pair of corners, I can easily see them carrying five safeties. As the situation stands now, it’s a numbers game, with Sullivan, Deiondre’ Hall and Blake Countess all battling over one spot. Sullivan’s job is by no means safe, but Hall couldn’t beat him out for playing time last season, and Countess still appears to be recovering from a foot injury.

ST (3): Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato

No competition for their spots. Shouldn’t change barring injury or poor preseason performance.

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Eagles reportedly have a new secondary coach

Eagles reportedly have a new secondary coach

Marquand Manuel is the Eagles’ new secondary coach, according to a tweet by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

The 40-year-old Manuel replaces Cory Undlin, who had served in that role since 2015, first under Chip Kelly and the last four years under Doug Pederson. Undlin was named Lions defensive coordinator two weeks ago.

Manuel and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz go back a ways. Manuel played for the Lions in 2009 when Schwartz was their head coach.

Manuel was not in the NFL this past year. He spent the previous four years under Dan Quinn with the Falcons, two years as secondary coach and two years as defensive coordinator before getting fired following the 2018 season.

The Falcons reached the Super Bowl in his second year in Atlanta, losing to the Patriots in Houston.

Before Atlanta, Manuel spent three years working under Quinn with the Seahawks, holding a variety of titles on the defensive staff.

Manuel, who played for Steve Spurrier at Florida, was the Bengals’ 6th-round pick in 2002 and spent eight years as a safety in the NFL with six different teams — the Bengals, Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Broncos and Lions.

He played in 116 games, starting 58, with two interceptions and a pick-6 while he was with the Packers in 2006 off Jon Kitna of the Lions.

The Eagles also reportedly interviewed Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker for the position.

The Eagles already have a safeties coach on the staff, former Eagle Tim Hauck. He was Pederson's teammate with the Eagles in 1999 and has been on Pederson's staff since 2016.

Quinn had this to say about Manuel on the Falcons’ web site back in 2018:

From the time I've met him from now, one thing that's cool to see that has stayed consistent is the energy and enthusiasm he has for players. He made the transition from player to coach really seamlessly because he knew the boundaries of coach, but he also stepped across to say, I can push you. That's not easy to do. He's always had mental quickness of a quarterback or someone who gets concepts really quickly. That transferred into this coaching fast. He can communicate concepts and ideas quickly to people on the run, in the moment, that's a really valuable asset as a coach.

The Eagles still have openings to replace the three assistant coaches Doug Pederson fired: offensive coordinator Mike Groh, wide receivers coach Carson Walch and defensive line coach Phillip Daniels.

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Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Just a few days ago, it seemed like the Eagles weren’t going to lose Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry because it looked like the Browns were going to hire someone else.

Well, that someone else has dropped out of the race.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has taken himself out of the running to be the Browns’ next general manager, which means Berry is now the new favorite, according to Cleveland.com

This is certainly an interesting turn of events.

According to Cleveland.com, “Paton was reluctant to accept the initial interview because he assumed the job would go Berry.”

Now it might.

It would have made plenty of sense for the Browns to hire Paton, who has a long-standing relationship with new head coach Kevin Stefanski from their time together in Minnesota. But according to reports over the past few weeks, it seems like Berry has been a favorite of ownership and the front office.

While Berry and Stefanski have never worked together, they did get to know each other during the coaching search in Cleveland a year ago. After that search, the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens and Berry left for Philly. But now, Berry and Stefanski might actually get a chance to work with one another.

The Harvard-educated Berry, 32, was with the Browns from 2016-18 as their Vice President of Player Personnel before he joined the Eagles last season in a role they created for him. Berry initially came up in the Colts franchise, first as a scouting assistant and finally as a pro scouting coordinator. He’s been a quick-riser in the NFL world.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles reportedly denied a request from the Panthers to interview Berry for a Vice President job. The reasoning from the Eagles was that it wasn’t a general manager position and he wouldn’t have had final say on personnel matters.

Final say is something Berry will likely never have here in Philadelphia. Despite a few missteps in recent years, Howie Roseman has pretty solid job security and he isn’t going anywhere. If Berry is going to become a GM, it’s going to be in another city. And it seems like that day might be coming soon.

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