There was a lot of roster turnover this offseason on the defensive side of the ball. Plenty of young blood and plenty of new toys for Sean McDermott. Here’s how I think the competition looks in early May:
Defensive Line (13 players; 10 likely spots)
Locks: Trent Cole, Broderick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Darryl Tapp, Brandon Graham (r), Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (r), Ricky Sapp (r)
On the Bubble: Victor Abiamiri, Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon, Juqua Parker, Jeff Owens (r)
Longshots: Eric Moncur (r)
Analysis: The rookies are going to get good chances to contribute right away in the absence of veterans like Darren Howard, Chris Clemons, and Jason Babin. And you’ve got a motley crew fighting for the remaining jobs: the old vet, the UDFA that showed immense upside last year, the two second-round picks that haven’t done much on the field, and the 7th-round challenger. Listed Sapp here because Andy’s talked about him as a Joker-type, not a legit option at SAM. If the coaches think he can crossover he may be competing with Alex Hall (listed with the LBs) for a job. Plus, When you consider Abiamiri may not be ready for the season to start, the Eagles probably will bring in a few more UDFAs to compete.
Linebackers (9 players; 6 likely spots)
Locks: Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, Moise Fokou, Keenan Clayton (r)
On the Bubble: Akeem Jordan, Omar Gaither, Joe Mays, Alex Hall, Jamar Chaney (r)
Analysis: No longshots here; everybody’s got a legit chance of a spot. However, given the recent youth movement, don’t think guys with little shot of ever starting again (see: Gaither, Mays) should get too comfortable. I would bet it’s Bradley, Sims, and Fokou starting, with Clayton, Jordan, and Chaney subs. Hall could stick as a hybrid DE/LB.
Defensive Backs (15 players; 9 likely spots)
Locks: Quintin Mikell, Asante Samuel, Nate Allen (r), Macho Harris, Ellis Hobbs, Trevard Lindley (r)
On the Bubble: Joselio Hanson, Marlin Jackson, Quintin Demps, Dimitri Patterson, Kurt Coleman (r)
Longshots: Geoffrey Pope, David Pender (r), Josh Morris (r), Devin Ross (r)
Analysis: The Eagles are in a tough spot with Macho, because he’s the best option at FS if Nate Allen can’t step up and take the job right away. However, if Macho doesn’t get reps at CB, how can he compete there? He’s better than back-up safety or dime CB (where he might end up if Allen only takes the job right before the season), so they have to hope the positions sort themselves out soon. Coleman, Demps, and maybe Jackson will be working at back-up safety. The prospects at CB are more unsettled, but clearly Hobbs, Macho, Lindley will get looks. If Jackson can’t pull his weight at safety they could try to stash him at CB as well — but that might eliminate the chances of keeping another long-term prospect at the position like Patterson or one over the UDFAs.
Special Teams (5 players; 3 likely spots)
Locks: David Akers, Jon Dorenbos
On the Bubble: Sav Rocca, Durant Brooks, Ken Parrish
Analysis: PUNTER COMPETITION! WOOHOO!
Plenty of uncertainty there. Anyone have predictions?