Eliot Shorr-Parks, 94WIP

Eagles 53-man roster prediction: Version 3.8

Eliot Shorr-Parks
August 18, 2019 - 12:54 pm

The Eagles are going to have some tricky maneuvering to do at quarterback. 

At one point in the offseason the decisions looked easy -- Carson Wentz was the starter, Nate Sudfeld was the backup and Clayton Thorson would be on the practice squad.

Things started to get tricky, however, when Thorson looked way better on Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars than he did in the team’s preseason opener. Then, the team brought in veteran Josh McCown, giving him $2 million in guaranteed money to come to Philadelphia. 

Now, the Eagles have to figure out how many quarterbacks they can keep on their roster -- or decide which ones they are willing to potentially lose to another team. 

Here is an updated 53-man roster prediction after the decision to sign McCown and offensive linemen Brett Toth. 

Quarterback: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Josh McCown, Clayton Thorson (4)

Analysis: There is little doubt that McCown, barring a completely terrible showing in practice over the next few weeks, will be the backup this season. The Eagles didn't give him $2 million to sit on the bench inactive as the third-string quarterback. The question is what this means for Sudfeld. 

Sudfeld is currently still recovering from a broken left wrist, an injury that should only keep him out the first few weeks of the regular season. With McCown on the roster, however, the Eagles don't need to hurry him back. The idea of keeping him on the 53-man roster, and then placing him on the injured reserve list to start the season, shouldn't be ruled out. With Thorson, the Eagles could decide to expose him to waivers, but that is a risky move considering he was a fifth-round pick and looked better in his second preseason game than he did in his first game. The Eagles could decide to keep Thorson through the initial cuts, then waive him later in the week, hoping at that point teams will have their roster set. 

Either way, when camp started it seemed like they would keep two quarterbacks -- now, the idea of the Eagles keeping four should not be ruled out.  

Running back: Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement (4):

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 answer is likely no if they are going to be carrying four quarterbacks, which means the coaches will have to pick between Smallwood and Clement. Clement seems to finally be healthy after rehabbing from a torn ACL all of training camp, and got a ton of reps with the first-team offense on Monday. Smallwood has had an excellent camp, but as of now it looks like his time with the team might be coming to an end. 

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, Joshua Perkins (3)

Analysis: The injuries to Goedert and Rodgers could change how many tight ends the Eagles keep, especially if they feel sketchy about Goedert's chances of making it through Week 1. Rodgers appeared to suffer a major injury on Monday, and it wouldn't be surprising if his season is severly impacted because of it. Perkins is the logical choice to take his spot as the third tight end as he was with the team last year and can play both tight end and receiver if needed. 

Offensive line: Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Brett Toth, 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. 

The addition of Toth means that one fringe roster player is not making it along the offensive line. The player likely to go is Matt Pryor, considering the Eagles are going to be training Toth at both guard and tackle. 

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 (5)

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. Scandrick has not had a great training camp so far, but the team likely still wants to have him on the roster in Week 1. Chances are the Eagles release Scandrick, place LeBlanc on IR and then bring the veteran cornerback back.  

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