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Eagles 53-man roster: Version 3.0

August 16, 2019 - 5:14 am

The Eagles have a tough decision to make at quarterback — and it could impact the rest of the roster. 

Clayton Thorson looked way better on Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars than he did in the team’s preseason opener, a very positive sign for the rookie’s development. Thorson got way more playing time than he anticipated after veteran Cody Kessler was knocked out on the first drive of the game with a concussion. 

Now, not only do the Eagles need to figure out what to do at quarterback for this week at practice, but they have to figure out how many quarterbacks to keep on the roster — and which ones. 

Here is an updated 53-man roster prediction after Thursday night’s preseason game in Jacksonville: 

Quarterback: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson (3)

Analysis: Will Thorson make it through waivers? The answer to that question seems to change weekly, and after a solid performance on Thursday night, the answer might be no. A fifth-round pick, there very well might be a team out there that decides they liked Thorson enough in the draft to claim him and cut a veteran they have on their roster. On the flip side, the team could almost certainly bring Kessler back after releasing him if they wanted. 

One route they could take is this — cut Kessler on final cuts, then place cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc on injured reserve, something they would have to wait to do until after submitting their 53-man roster. Placing LeBlanc, who could be out until November, on injured reserve would open a roster spot up back for Kessler, and would also save the team from exposing Thorson to waivers. 

Running back: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood (5):

Analysis: The top three at running back are all locks, and with how well Sanders played on Thursday night, he might be the starter in Week 1. Sanders showed a ton of burst out of the backfield against the Jaguars, but his most impressive moment might have been when he picked up a blitz on what turned into a touchdown pass by Thorson in the first half. Sanders showing he can be in on passing plays, and can be trusted to protect Wentz, is going to drastically speed up how long it is until he is the starter. The question is who will be the backups and whether the Eagles can afford to carry five running backs. The coaches won't like having to pick between Smallwood and Clement, as both are coaching staff favorites. At this point, simply because he is healthy and the coaching staff trusts him, Smallwood makes the roster over Clement. Josh Adams played well on Thursday night, and he likely won't make it through to the practice squad, but there simply isn't room on the roster for him. 

Wide Receiver: Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins (5)

Analysis: Is there a fifth wide receiver worthy of a roster spot? As deep as this team is perceived to be at receiver, the answer to that might be no, especially with Mack Hollins showing nothing on Thursday night. Hollins didn’t even start against the Jaguars, and didn’t get in the game until veteran Charles Johnson had to leave due to injury. If training camp performances matter there is no reason Hollins would make it over a receiver like Greg Ward, who had a touchdown on Thursday night and has been excellent in training camp. For now, however, Hollins gets a roster spot due to special teams. 

Tight Ends: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers (3)

Analysis: The injuries to Goedert and Rodgers could change how many tight ends the Eagles keep, especially if they feel sketchy about either’s chances of making it through Week 1. If they do keep four tight ends the fourth will likely be Perkins, but for now, there are too many quality players at other spots to justify four tight ends. 

Offensive line: Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Matt Pryor, Andre Dillard, Jordan Mailata (10)

Analysis: There are at least seven locks at this position, with the five starters and top two backups in Dillard and Vaitai. The question is how does the team feel about Wisniewski, who is having a very rough preseason snapping the ball. Wisniewski had two bad snaps on Thursday night, a continuation of an issue he has had in training camp practices. Wisniewski has value at three interior line spots, but if they can’t trust him at center, his chances of making the roster will take a hit. 

Defensive line: Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Timmy Jernigan, Treyvon Hester, Hassan Ridgeway, Daeshon Hall (10)

Analysis: The defensive end that made the most of Thursday’s game, for the second week in a row, was Hall, who finished with two sacks and was in the quarterback’s face all night. Chances are if the Eagles cut Hall he wouldn’t make it through waivers, and the way he is playing, they won’t want to risk losing him to another team. Shareef Miller had a sack against the Jaguars, but it still feels like his season will be spent on injured reserve with an “injury.” The Eagles' defensive end position is a weird one, as they are going to have a tough time deciding who to keep, but also don't have many players beyond the starters that they can feel super confident in. Defensive tackle Aziz Shittu made the most of his preseason debut, but it is hard to see the Eagles keeping him on the roster. 

Linebackers: Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, L.J. Fort, Zach Brown (5)

Analysis: After a rough game last week the linebackers looked much better on Thursday night. The starters played well against the Jaguars’ backups, with Brown making the best play of the night (among the linebackers) when he stuffed a running play in the backfield. One of the plays the unit will wish they had back was by Fort, who got a stiff arm right to the face during a running play right along the sideline. Of the five linebackers projected to make the roster, Fort might the one surprise cut, especially if the Eagles decide to go heavy at safety.  

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

Analysis: Injuries will play a huge role in deciding which cornerbacks make it and which don’t. At this point it seems very unlikely that Jalen Mills (foot) is going to be ready for Week 1, and the team has likely already made the decision he will start the season on the PUP, considering they placed him there at the start of training camp. The strong play of Jones and Douglas on the outside will likely also factor into the team taking their time with Mills. As mentioned above, the Eagles might have to place LeBlanc on injured reserve (and take him off in eight weeks) because of their situation at quarterback, but to do so, they will have to carry LeBlanc initially on the 53-man roster. 

Safeties: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Jonathan Cyprien (4)

Analysis: The release of Blake Countess this week was a surprise, but perhaps a move we should have seen coming after the veteran missed a large portion of training camp and the team brought in Cyprien. Cyprien got some first-team snaps on Thursday night with the defense, a sign that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz sees a role for him in the defense. 

Special teams: Cam Johnston, Jake Elliott, Rick Lovato (3)

Analysis: As always, the special teams are the easiest part of the roster to project — which isn’t something the Eagles shouldn’t take for granted. 

PUP: Jalen Mills

IR: Shareef Miller