THERE were a few names among the cuts that I was not happy with: DT Anthony Rush, CB Rasul Douglas, and DE Shareef Miller specifically. That said, I wouldn’t rule out seeing one or two of those guys added to the Practice Squad in the next couple of days.
The key to this roster is not to over-react to it. With no preseason there may be a guy or two who made the team, simply because the coaching staff felt that they needed a look at him during live fire, before shipping him out. Cutting “just a guy” in order to make sure that you don’t pass on a diamond in the rough, is a hard thing to argue against.
Here’s my take on the Eagles roster as it stands now. We’ll keep it simple: GREEN (Ready to roll) / YELLOW (Serviceable, but needs bolstering) / RED (This can’t be the best we can do)
QB: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Jalen Hurts – I have no worries here. Wentz is a top ten starter, Sudfeld has never been “WOW!”, but he’s never sucked either. Hurts is a rookie with a lot of talent, but he’s 100% untested at this level. GREEN
RB: Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Boston Scott – This is a good group. Good. Not great. Everyone here can catch the ball and is dangerous as hell in the Screen game. What’s missing is a 3rd and 2 banger. A back to wear down the defense, eat clock, and quiet the crowd for road games like Week 10 (giants), Week 11 (Browns), and Week 13 (Packers). (YES! We drew away games at Lambeau TWO years in a row! Total bullshit.) GREEN
WR: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, Quez Watkins – Seven. I thought the team might keep six, but I guess with Jeffery not being back from injury yet, Watkins is getting an opportunity. Numbers aside, I’ve been an Eagles fan since 1989, and I have never seen our team assemble a receiver corps this dangerous. Jackson, Hightower and Watkins can all fly. Jeffery is open even when he’s covered. (And here’s a link for those who forgot that.) Greg Ward has a knack for uncovering early in his route, which gives the QB an almost instant place to go with the ball. Reagor and Whiteside have reportedly looked very promising in camp. This group is very fast, and diverse, so they can be schemed to exploit a new weakness every week. GREEN
TE: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert – This is likely the best TE 1-2 punch in football. The problem is that there is no depth here. While on most teams, a second TE would be depth, our team plays them both so much, that an injury to one totally disrupts our base offensive concept. This is one of the positions that either requires and add, or for a lineman to switch position. (Now who might be athletic enough to handle such a switch…?) However, as long as these two are healthy, opposing defensive coordinators can kiss a week of sleep, goodbye. GREEN
C: Jason Kelce – Good solid player. GREEN
G: Isaac Seumalo, Jason Peters, Nate Herbig – This is a solid bunch, though I still think that if Peters is playing the position, he should be on the Left, not the Right. YELLOW
T: Lane Johnson, Matt Pryor, Jordan Mailata, Jack Driscoll – Johnson is a perennial Pro-Bowl type of player at RT. Everyone else is a a crapshoot. With the season ending injury to Andre Dillard, Jason Peters should be at LT. Instead, we’re out here holding tryouts a week before the season starts. RED
DE: Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Genard Avery, Casey Toohill – Both Graham and Curry play the run well and get plenty of heat on the QB. (Though neither is a sack machine.) Barnett has yet to put it all together, and has been average at best to this point in his career. Sweat showed flashes last year, and may be nipping at Barnett’s heels for his starting spot in 2021. Avery is an OLB/DE tweener who relies on explosive brute force to get to the passer. We saw a tiny sample of that in 2019, but there’s a lot of buzz about him from coaches this year. Toohill is still here because a 250 pound DE, who runs a 4.62 forty, is a nice thing to have on Special Teams. This isn’t a flashy position, but there are at least 4 players here who are NFL caliber starters. GREEN
DT: Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Hasaan Ridgeway, Javon Hargrave – Three of these four demand frequent double-teams. That alone will to open up many, many one-on-one opportunities for edge rushers this season. And what’s scarier: All the players at this position are all finishers. GREEN
OLB: Nate Gerry, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley – Gerry is going to start. Beyond that, everything is a question or just speculation. As if to further fuel that very thing, the Eagles have taken down the depth chart section of their website. There’s a lot of speed here, but Gerry is the only one with significant experience playing NFL defense. Bradley and Taylor are both rookies. Singleton and Riley are career Special Teamers. Communication breakdowns are going to be a regular occurrence here. RED
MLB: T.J. Edwards – The Eagles don’t make a distinction between OLB and MLB. At least on paper they don’t. Fact is, with Edwards’s limited speed and range, he has to play the MIKE if he wants to play in this league. YELLOW
S: Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Rudy Ford, Marcus Epps, Will Parks, K’Von Wallace – While I’m still peeved over letting Malcolm Jenkins walk, Mills will provide a little more speed. That means it won’t require McLeod to over-extend himself in deep coverage. Ford and Epps were here in 2019 and they combined for 17 games and 11 tackles. No passes defensed or nothing. Parks was brought in and moved into third on the depth chart, but he’s injured, and it remains to be seen how he bounces back. Wallace is a rookie. YELLOW
CB: Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Craig James, Darius Slay, Nickell Robey-Coleman – Slay isn’t quite “shutdown” level, but he’s the next best thing. Or at least he has been so far in his career. Maddox seems to be the second starter. He’s feisty and will gamble for the ball, but his stature (5’9”, 183) could become an issue. With Robey-Coleman being brought in to play the Nickle, it raises some serious questions about the role (and future) of LeBlanc. James just got a one year contract extension. YELLOW
K: Jake Elliott – Has been on a two year slide since 2017, and no one was brought in to challenge him. YELLOW
P: Cam Johnston – Needs to give his coverage time to get to the returner. YELLOW
LS: Rick Lovato – Must be awesome. You never hear his name. GREEN
Again, this is just the first edition of the roster. So there’s no need to freak out, and no reason to reserve Super Bowl tick- oh right. Covid.