It’s hard enough predicting a 53-man roster. This year it’s even harder considering all the Eagles’ injuries.
NFL teams can put unlimited players on Injured Reserve and activate them after as few as three weeks this year. But they still have to be on the initial 53-man roster.
So this is a real juggling act, trying to figure out where to go light, where to go heavy.
But here’s my best guess at the Eagles’ initial 53-man roster. Which will presumably change a great deal before opening day.
QB : Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Jalen Hurts
Tempted to have the Eagles re-acquire Clayton Thorston just before the roster deadline but decided against it. The only question here is who’s No. 2 and despite what Doug Pederson has said I’m still not convinced it won’t be Jalen Hurts.
RB : Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Corey Clement, Adrian Killins
Elijah Holyfield had a solid camp and I’m sure the Eagles will try to keep him around on the practice squad, but this offseason was all about bringing in speed, and Killins has it. His surprising receiving ability makes him even more valuable.
WR : DeSean Jackson, Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, John Hightower, Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor
Injuries are definitely a factor here. I would expect Alshon Jeffery to go onto regular-season PUP, which means he misses the first six weeks. With Jalen Reagor already earmarked for IR after cuts you can’t afford to keep both on the 53. Deontay Burnett deserves a spot on the 53, but he’d probably be easier to get through waivers onto the practice squad than Watkins.
TE : Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Noah Togiai
With Josh Perkins out, Togiai, the undrafted rookie from Oregon looks like a keeper.
OL : Isaac Seumalo, Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Matt Pryor, Jordan Mailata, Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Sua Opeta
Some tricky decisions here. I still expect the Eagles to bring in a veteran off the waiver wire. You can’t go into a season with zero experienced o-line depth. But for the initial 53 I’m keeping Opeta over Prince Tega Wanogho.
DE : Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Casey Toohill
This might be the most difficult spot to predict. We don’t know how long Derek Barnett is out and I’m not sure Howie Roseman has the luxury of keeping six with the injuries everywhere else. Graham, Barnett, Curry and Sweat are locks, which leaves Joe Ostman, injured Genard Avery, Casey Toohill and Shareef Miller for one or maybe two spots. This could be ugly, considering the Eagles last year drafted Miller in the fourth round and traded a 4 for Avery. But they might both be gone.
DT : Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Javon Hargrave, Hassan Ridgeway, Raequan Williams
With Hargrave out indefinitely with an upper body and Ridgeway still out with a lower body, the Eagles can’t afford to keep five, so Williams, an undrafted rookie out of Michigan State, gets a shot.
LB : Nate Gerry, T.J. Edwards, Duke Riley, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley
Another spot where the Eagles will have to go thin because of injuries. They’re young and inexperienced but at least they’re healthy. And assuming Alex Singleton clears waivers, he’s a phone call away on the practice squad if you need him.
S : Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Will Parks, K’Von Wallace, Rudy Ford
With Parks out indefinitely, Ford gets the nod over undrafted Grayland Arnold for the fifth spot.
CB : Avonte Maddox, Darius Slay, Rasul Douglas, Cre’von LeBlanc, Nikell Robey-Coleman
I really wanted to keep Craig James on here because of his special teams ability, but with all the injuries elsewhere I just couldn’t keep six corners. What about Sidney Jones? Yeah, he was a 2nd-round pick, but if we’re basing this on merit, he won’t be here.
Specialists : Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato
The same group for a third straight year. Which is a good thing. Not having to worry ab out the kicker, punter or holder is an under-rated luxury for any team.