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Kulp's Eagles 53-man roster projection

Kulp's Eagles 53-man roster projection

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?!)

Super Bowl champs showed up to ESPYS in style, including a 'Philly Special' homage

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AP Images

Super Bowl champs showed up to ESPYS in style, including a 'Philly Special' homage

The Super Bowl champs showed up to the ESPYS in style on Wednesday night out in Los Angeles.

Nick Foles may have taken home the hardware for best performance in a championship — with a heck of a speech to boot — but it was the Eagles' secondary who won best dressed.

Or maybe just most outrageously baller. Tough to tell these days.

I mean, just look at what Rodney McLeod wore. Purple. No shirt.

The Green Goblin wasn't far behind. Personally, I liked Jalen Mills going with a vest that still showed off his tat.

And then there was Malcolm Jenkins adding a bit of class to the group.

But the sartorial flair that won the evening may have to go to former Eagle and current member of the Chicago Bears Trey Burton, who kept the "Philly Special" close to his heart.

And shouts to Jake Elliott and his hat just because.

AP Images

Are 2018 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

Are 2018 Eagles better or worse at quarterback?

The one area the Eagles made no major changes from last season is at quarterback. Carson Wentz returns from injury. Somewhat surprisingly, Nick Foles was retained and even signed a contract extension. Nate Sudfeld remains in the fold as well.

The cast may be the same, but with Foles returning to the bench as a Super Bowl MVP, will the Eagles be better or worse off in 2018?

Better

Depth

When Foles took the reins last December, he had barely played or practiced since 2015, his hellish season with the Rams – and, initially, it showed. But after what the 29-year-old signal caller accomplished in the playoffs, does anybody believe Foles is lacking for confidence now? Anybody still wonder whether he’s comfortable running the Eagles’ offense?

Foles is better prepared to take over for Wentz or start Week 1 than he was this time a year ago. So, too, is Sudfeld, who will benefit from his first camp with the team after signing last September, as well as his first NFL game experience in Week 17 against the Cowboys. QB2 and QB3 are both in a better place now, which is remarkable, but true.

Worse

Greater sense of uncertainty

Until the trade deadline comes and goes in October, there’s always the possibility Foles is traded this year. Obviously, there would be some drop-off between the Super Bowl MVP and Sudfeld, a third-year player who’s thrown 23 career passes, should that come to pass.

For now, that’s not the case, but is something to keep an eye for awhile yet.

The same

Nick Foles

Despite everything that’s happened – the winning, the newfound notoriety, going back to the bench, a so-called quarterback controversy, trade murmurs – the one thing you can count on is Foles’ demeanor. He may have questioned himself on the football field at one point in his career, but he’s in a place now where he knows what he’s capable of and his value to the Eagles.

Foles also hasn’t changed much as a player since his historic, breakout campaign in 2013. As long as the offensive line can keep him upright, and he has talented weapons to distribute the ball to, this is somebody that can win you a lot of games in the NFL. There’s no longer any disputing that.

The unknown

Carson Wentz’s knee

Wentz has looked so darn impressive in videos and on the practice field, it’s easy to fall into the trap that his surgically repaired knee is fine, everything is fine. Despite raising the question here, he’s probably better prepared to overcome a torn ACL than some past Eagles quarterbacks who struggled with the recovery in the past – namely Sam Bradford and Donovan McNabb.

Still, more passers than not have come back and looked less than 100 percent in their first season removed from the injury. And many of them had more time to recover than Wentz, who only went down in November.

We don’t even know for sure if Wentz will be cleared to play Week 1. It seems likely he will be, but it’s far from definite. Until he’s playing in actual NFL games, and back to looking like the 2017, MVP-caliber version of himself, all of these concerns give folks some pause before assuming the Eagles would immediately be better off with Wentz under center.

Better or worse?

Fortunately, the determination doesn’t rest solely on Wentz here. A comfortable and confident Foles and the developing Sudfeld should give the Eagles a marginal lift at quarterback. And even after sharing a pile of concerns about Wentz, eventually, possibly sometime in 2018, he will be fine, making Wentz-like escapes and ice-in-his-veins third-down conversions. In fact, if Wentz Is miraculously fine for Week 1, he should still be improving heading into his third season.

Now that’s something BETTER to look forward to.

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