Two preseason games in calls for an updated 53-man roster prediction
After the first few days of training camp, I gave a prediction of the Eagles 53-man roster. Based on the two preseason games and several more weeks of practice, that roster needs to be adjusted. There are only a few spots to be changed because only a few players have really stood out. Here is an updated 53-man roster prediction based on what we’ve seen from the Eagles so far.
Who the Eagles will keep at tight end and quarterback
I still believe that the Eagles will take three quarterbacks, three tight ends, and eight linemen. However, I think instead of five receivers and five running backs, they will take four running backs and six wide receivers.
The quarterbacks will obviously be Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, and Nate Sudfeld. Sudfeld has shown that he is the backup QB of the Eagles future, and has impressed in both preseason games. The tight ends will be Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and Richard Rodgers. However, Rodgers is week to week with a knee injury. I see the Eagles bringing back Brent Celek for one more year based on his consistency and his blocking ability.
The updated 53-man roster prediction includes the following players at QB and TE:
- Carson Wentz
- Nick Foles
- Nate Sudfeld
- Zach Ertz
- Dallas Goedert
- Brent Celek
The running back position is more open
My first change to my initial prediction will be with the running backs. In the early prediction, I had Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey and Josh Adams. Ajayi, Clement, and Sproles are locks to make the roster, however, the final spot remains open. Injuries and poor play have attributed to the uncertainty surrounding the running back position.
Pumphrey has not played in the preseason due to injury, most likely ending his chances at making the roster. This left the door wide open for Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones. Unfortunately, neither of these players have impressed in the first two matchups. Smallwood played okay, but nothing special. Jones was not only ineffective in the run game but also worse in the passing game.
If Adams can get healthy by this week’s game against the Browns, he could earn himself that final running back spot on the roster. However, if he is not, the competition will come down to Smallwood and Jones. In today’s press conference, Doug Pederson noted how important this game is for solidifying the final roster.
Adams said he feels good and expects to play against the Browns on Thursday. If he improves on his performance against the Steelers, he could snag the last running back spot on the roster.
Sounds like RB battle between Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones may be in focus vs Browns. They could be only two RB healthy for game.
— Dave Spadaro (@EaglesInsider) August 21, 2018
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) August 21, 2018
- Jay Ajayi
- Corey Clement
- Darren Sproles
- Josh Adams
The locks at wide receiver
Lastly, the wide receivers. Alshon Jeffery, regardless of his return date, will be on the 53-man roster. Nelson Agholor is getting rest in order to be ready for the season opener. He is also a roster lock. Mike Wallace has impressed with his speed and his reliable hands in camp and in the preseason, so he also has a secure spot.
The less secure spots are numbers four through six. Mack Hollins went into camp as a lock in the four spot, however, he has been sidelined with an injury. In his absence, Shelton Gibson has earned his spot on the roster possibly leapfrogging Hollins for the four spot. His speed continues to impress as well as his increased reliability in long and short situations. During today’s press conference Pederson mentioned the importance of Hollins’s play on special teams, so getting him healthy for the season is crucial.
The last roster spot at the WR position
The last receiver to make the roster will be another young guy the Eagles believe will have moments of effectiveness but also will need development. As they did with Gibson last year, it will be a young guy they like enough to keep on the roster but might not see much playing time in 2018. With Markus Wheaton being out all of the preseason and most of camp with an injury, he won’t make the team. Kamar Aiken was brought in to be a veteran presence but his hands aren’t reliable.
Some of the younger guys fighting for that roster spot include Rashard Davis, Greg Ward, and Bryce Treggs. Treggs came out of the game last week with an injury and has not practiced since most likely ending his roster chances. This week’s game will be crucial for Davis and Ward to show their talent. They both have had a few catches in the first two games and Davis has returned punts as well. The Eagles have utilized Davis more and if he can show better decision making on punt returns and can catch what’s thrown his way, he will make the roster.
For the updated 53-man roster, the following players will be at WR:
- Alshon Jeffery
- Mike Wallace
- Nelson Agholor
- Shelton Gibson
- Mack Hollins
- Rashard Davis
No changes at the O-line
Based on the play we have seen in preseason and training camp, my updated 53-man roster remains the same as my initial prediction:
- Brandon Brooks
- Lane Johnson
- Jason Kelce
- Stefan Wisniewski
- Jason Peters
- Halapoulivaati Vaitai
- Matt Pryor
- Isaac Seumalo
I will say, however, that they all need to play better than they did last week before they get one of our quarterbacks killed. The protection and run blocking have not been great during preseason.
Moving on to the D-line
This defensive line is scary for any offense. And if you don’t think it is, well, you’re just flat out wrong. For the most part, my updated 53-man roster is the same as my first prediction, but there is one change. Instead of the Eagles taking Aziz Shittu, I believe they will take Elijah Qualls. Shittu impressed in the first week of camp but hasn’t created much buzz since. Qualls has played a good amount of time in the preseason and shown improvement on last year.
The updated 53-man roster prediction for the defensive line:
- Fletcher Cox
- Brandon Graham
- Haloti Ngata
- Derek Barnett
- Chris Long
- Michael Bennett
- Josh Sweat
- Tim Jernigan
- Destiney Vaeao
- Elijah Qualls
Definite competition at the linebacker position
As usual for the Eagles, the linebacker position is always one of interest. There are several guys in there who have made it obvious that they are fighting hard to earn a spot on the roster. Based on the level of play, the constant injuries to our linebacking corps over the years, and Nigel Bradham’s one-game suspension, I believe the Eagles will take six linebackers. My updated 53-man roster prediction remains the same as my initial list.
- Jordan Hicks
- Nigel Bradham
- Corey Nelson
- Kamu Grugier-Hill
- Joe Walker
- Nathan Gerry
So far, the only person who has impressed so far in the secondary is Ronald Darby. Darby was tossed into the mix late into preseason last year and then missed significant time with an ankle injury. However, this year he’s had the full offseason and all of camp and the growth is noticeable. He nearly picked off Tom Brady twice last week and he was always in tight coverage. He is going to have a great year.
Jim Schwartz on #Eagles CB Ronald Darby: “He’s had one of the best offseasons of any of our players.”
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 20, 2018
Based on the play in the preseason, not much has changed from my initial 53-man roster prediction. The only difference is the signing of Corey Graham. He will take the last roster spot from Tre Sullivan.
Updated 53-man roster prediction: five safeties and five defensive backs in no particular order:
- Jalen Mills
- Ronald Darby
- Sidney Jones
- Avonte Maddox
- Rasul Douglas
- De’Vaunte Bausby
- Malcolm Jenkins
- Rodney McLeod
- Chris Maragos
- Corey Graham
The final three
Lastly, there are three key special teamers that will make the roster. Jake Elliott will be the kicker and Rick Lovato will be the long snapper. However, regardless of one single 80-yard punt, I still don’t believe Cameron Johnston will earn the punting job. He may have had one fantastic punt but he had eight or so other below average punts. Brad Nortman is still on the market, as is Donnie Jones. Also, the Seattle Seahawks just cut their punter, Jon Ryan, the other day. Regardless of the decision on the punter, I doubt it will be Johnston.
Ryan is 36, so might sign for less money. However, if time goes long enough without a team, the Eagles could get Nortman for a good price.
- Jake Elliott
- Rick Lovato
- Brad Nortman/Jon Ryan