Eagles Training Camp: Predicting the Final 53-Man Roster

Doug Pederson

Getty The Eagles may be on the verge of making a blockbuster trade.

It’s that time of year again. Time to make an educated guess on the final 53-man roster for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The annual practice of prognostication is a bit weird entering the 2020 season, with so much uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Eagles will have to trim their roster down to 80 guys before July 28 instead of the traditional 90-man squads. It’s a huge disadvantage for guys on the bubble, specifically the undrafted rookie free agents. Then there is the issue of how much “grass time” and no preseason games.

Doug Pederson admitted back in June that he would need at least six weeks to get his team ready for the season. Rookies and first-year players reported to training camp earlier this week and the full squad is scheduled to join them on July 28. It’s a tight timeline but there are no other options.

“I do think because we’ve missed the entire offseason, it’s going to take all of the five to six weeks that we have of training camp to be prepared for a regular season,” Pederson told reporters. “I do think that a full training camp moving forward would prepare you. I do think you can get in enough contact in, I do think you can get enough padded practices in. You’d have to maximize those. At the same time, you’d have to be smart to get your guys ready and prepared for that opening weekend.”

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Predicting the Eagles’ Roster on Offense

Pederson said his players have to be ready to hit the ground running. Things are going to move first, per the head coach, and there are no excuses. Show up in shape and make the most of the reps you get. So, let’s take a crack at predicting the 53-man roster.

Quarterbacks (3): Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts, Nate Sudfeld

Analysis: Wentz is the starter and the smart money is on Sudfeld to win the backup job but don’t bet on it. The Eagles are infatuated with what Hurts brings to the table, specifically in what he can do in a possible Taysom Hill role. Pederson never keeps three quarterbacks active on game day, so the only way to have Hurts on the field is to have him penciled in as the No. 2. Sudfeld is running on borrowed time in Philly.

Running Backs (4): Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Corey Clement, Michael Warren

Analysis: Don’t rule out the Eagles adding a veteran like Devonta Freeman or LeSean McCoy before camp. They have talked about it more than Pederson uses the word “grass time.” For now, Sanders is the bellcow, with Scott stepping into the Darren Sproles’ role. Clement is valuable because he’s dangerous out of the backfield. Warren is a project who the team hopes will turn into a tough mudder and goal-line vulture.

Wide Receivers (7): DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Ward, John Hightower, Quez Watkins

Analysis: Alshon Jeffery will begin the year on the PUP list. When he returns, it will be interesting to see who the odd man out is. Probably Ward. The rest of the group is pretty set in stone barring any major injuries or suspensions. Jackson is entrenched as the starter, with Arcega-Whiteside battling Reagor and Goodwin for the other spot. Personally, I think Reagor wins it in camp. Ward has shown the ability to produce in the slot but Goodwin probably beats him out.

Tight Ends (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins

Analysis: This group is the easiest to predict. The Eagles love their “12 Personnel” with Ertz and Goedert serving as matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. Goedert was targeted 87 times in 2019 and made 58 receptions for 607 yards. Those numbers are going to sky-rocket in 2020. The team loves the versatility that Perkins provides as a receiver-tight end hybrid. Also, keep an eye on undrafted rookie Noah Togiai.

Offensive Line (9): Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Andre Dillard, Matt Pryor, Jack Driscoll, Luke Juriga, Jordan Mailata

Analysis: Notice the absence of sixth-round pick Prince Tega Wanagho here. I think the Eagles stash the swing tackle on IR as he recovers from surgery and a minor knee scope. The starters are obvious: Peters at right guard, Johnson at right tackle, Kelce at center, Seumalo at left guard, Dillard at left tackle. If Dillard struggles, they won’t hesitate to move Peters to left tackle and drop Pryor in at right guard. This could be the last hurrah for Mailata who has failed to live up to expectations. Juriga is my surprise pick. I think he could eventually replace Kelce.


Predicting the Eagles’ Roster on Defense

Defensive Ends (5): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Genard Avery, Shareef Miller

Analysis: One name missing is Joe Ostman. I love the hard-working edge rusher out of Central Michigan who tore his ACL on Aug. 4 … but I think it’s a lot to ask of him to fully rehab and show enough in limited reps. Blame the COVID-19 pandemic for his release. Graham is a beast, an underrated force off the edge. This is a make-or-break year for Barnett who needs to register double-digit sacks. Sweat needs to build off his late-season momentum and Miller just needs to see the field after promising 10 sacks. Avery has the potential to be the best end on the roster and he’s been putting in the work.

Defensive Tackles (4): Javon Hargrave, Malik Jackson, Fletcher Cox, Hassan Ridgeway

Analysis: Ridgeway said what everyone was already thinking: this defensive line might be the best in football. The Eagles surprisingly invested $39 million in Hargrave who continues to fly under the radar. He is arguably the NFL’s best nose tackle. Jackson could be a wild card coming off a season-ending foot injury but if he’s healthy, watch out. Everyone knows that Cox is a top-3 player at defensive tackle. The best part about this group is they can all rush the quarterback. The tackles may finish with more sacks than the ends.

Linebackers (5): Nathan Gerry, T.J. Edwards, Davion Taylor, Duke Riley, Shaun Bradley

Analysis: Alex Singleton may push for a spot but these are the five guys earning places on the team’s most glaring positional weakness. Gerry and Edwards are the starters, with Taylor stealing serious snaps. The young linebacker out of Colorado is a speed demon and tackling machine who has a legitimate shot at being the Eagles’ best rookie. Riley and Bradley make the final countdown due to their tenaciousness on special teams. Riley was a captain in 2019. One other name to watch is Jatavis Brown, the former Chargers starter who hasn’t been able to stay healthy in recent years. It’ll be between him and Bradley for the last spot.

Cornerbacks (6): Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Cre’Von LeBlanc

Analysis: Douglas was thought to be on the trading block but he’s still wearing midnight green — and putting in extra work down in Texas. The former third-round pick is a dark-horse candidate to win the starting job opposite Slay. It’s a job that Maddox and Jones will also be fiercely competing for in camp. Personally, I’m not sold on Jones and ultimately think Maddox takes the spot. As far as nickel cornerback goes … you won’t find two better players than Robey-Coleman and LeBlanc. It’s an embarrassment of riches for the Eagles there.

Safeties (4): Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Will Parks, K’Von Wallace

Analysis: The Eagles remain high on Rudy Ford, a cornerback-safety hybrid that ran the 40 in 4.38 seconds. They might try and stash him on the practice squad, otherwise, I think the position is too crowded. McLeod and Mills are the starters, with the Green Goblin looking to take over Malcolm Jenkins’ leadership role. Mills has big shoes to fill but he’s capable. Let’s not forget that Jenkins had lost a step in 2019. Meanwhile, Parks — a Philly native — and Wallace — a Brian Dawkins’ disciple — are hard-hitting Energizer Bunny type players.

Special Teams (3): Rick Lovato, Cameron Johnston, Jake Elliott

Three of the best in the business who aren’t going anywhere. Lovato made his first Pro Bowl in 2019 and was rewarded with a long-term contract. The Eagles also made Elliott a very rich man last year. The team tendered Johnston on a one-year deal and the thinking is he’ll be handed an extension in 2020. No drama or controversy here.

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