Tonight, we'll see the Eagles suit up and play for the first time this year. Preseason games are a limited and often useless tool for judging the team's prospects, but we can certainly start speculating as to what the team might look like come week one. Some esteemed writers have already started to release their early roster projections. I'm not at that prediction point yet, but it's still worth analyzing where we're at in terms of the 53-man squad.
When you look at the roster right now, you can separate the competition into three categories. There are the locks, players who have roster spots sewn up, barring injury. Then there are the position battles, where we know there is a backup spot to be claimed. Finally, there are the discretionary spots, in which players compete across the team for those final extra jobs that round out the roster.
Let's get the locks out of the way first:
- QB (3) - Vick, Kafka, Foles
- RB (2) - McCoy, Lewis
- TE (2) - Celek, Harbor
- WR (5) - Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Cooper, McNutt
- OL (7) - Bell, Mathis, Kelce, Watkins, Herremans, Dunlap, Vandervelde
- DE (4) - Cole, Babin, Graham, Curry
- DT (3) - Jenkins, Cox, Landri (Patterson to PUP)
- LB (5) - Kendricks, Ryans, Rolle, Chaney, Matthews
- CB (4) - Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, Boykin, Marsh
- S (3) - Allen, Coleman, Jarrett
- ST (2) - Henery, Dorenbos
That's 40 out of 53 spots that I have in the bag right now. Yes, even Jarrett. He seems to be doing enough to keep around, thankfully.
Where do we go from here? The position battles, i.e where two or more players are competing for at least one assured job after final cuts (favorites in italics):
- RB (1) - Brown vs. Polk
- FB (1) - Havili vs. Igwenagu vs. free agent TBD
- WR/RET (1) - Hall vs. Johnson
- C/G (1) - Reynolds vs. Gibson vs. free agent TBD
- G/T (1) - Kelly vs. Washington vs. free agent TBD
- DE (1) - Tapp vs. Hunt
- DT (1) - Dixon vs. Thornton
- LB (1) - Jordan vs. Clayton
- CB (1) - Hanson vs. Hughes
- S (1) - Atogwe vs. Anderson (potential PUP candidate)
- ST (1) - McBriar vs. Henry
That's 11 more spots taken, representing all the major spots of competition to keep an eye on during tonight's game. Then the coaches will have two more spots to play with and use at their discretion. That's where all our expert predictions will really be tested. Which of the above position battles will end with two players that deserve to stay?
The Eagles could keep an extra offensive lineman. They could go heavy on the defensive front, especially with current injuries to three starters. Cliff Harris could sneak on to the roster at cornerback if the team is worried he won't make it to the practice squad. They have Brett Brackett if they want to carry three tight ends. And if Colt Anderson doesn't make it back in time for week one, does Bobby April get to keep a different special teams ace?
So many possibilities. Only 53 jobs.
Photo from Getty.