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Eagles 53 man roster prediction defense edition

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This is part two of my Eagles roster prediction. If you need to catch up on part one, just follow that link. As I said before, these predictions are purely speculative and based upon past performance and projections of future performance. In addition, I will only use players on the Eagles official roster on their website.

I will be listing the players by position and I will also list the players who were cut so that you can see exactly who makes and doesnt make the roster.

Defensive end – (6)

Make the roster – Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Josh Sweat, Joe Ostman

Cuts – Danny Ezechukwu, Aziz Shittu, Steven Means

Defensive end is the strongest position on the Eagles roster, besides quarterback. The obvious returners are Graham, Long, Barnett and Bennett. They are joined by promising fourth-round pick Josh Sweat and undrafted free agent Joe Ostman. I would not be surprised if Sweat works his way up to become the first rotational defensive end behind Graham and Barnett. He has incredible length, speed and talent. All he has to do is put the work in and stay healthy.

Michael Bennett is in the defensive end section because he is listed as one. However, I would not be surprised if he started the season playing inside next to Fletcher Cox as a way to make up for the extended absence of Timmy Jernigan. I believe Ostman can make the cut over the other players currently on the roster, it was surprising to me that he was not drafted in the first place.

Defensive tackle – (5)

roster
Eagles defensive line. Photo by Eric Hartline of USA TODAY Sports

Make the roster – Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan* (Reserve/PUP), Haloti Ngata, Elijah Qualls, Destiny Vaeao, Winston Craig

Cuts – Bruce Hector

Yes, I know six players are listed and it says five. The reason for that is that Jernigan is going to be out four to six months. This means he will most likely start the season on the Reserve/PUP list. Which means he will not count against the 53 man roster limit.

Now, to the analysis, Fletcher Cox, Jernigan and Ngata are all as close to locks as can be. The last spot should end up being a battle. Qualls showed enough last year for me to put my faith in him earning this spot. Vaeao made the roster last year so him making it again this year is not a surprise. He has talent and is a good rotation player should the Eagles have injuries. Craig is making the roster here but he will be the likely cut when Jernigan returns.

Linebacker – (6)

Make the roster – Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Nathan Gerry, Corey Nelson, Kamu Grugier-Hill

Cuts – Asantay Brown, Joe Walker, Paul Worrilow

Hicks Bradham and Kendricks should end up the main starters in the base defense. In the nickel, just like last year, expect Kendricks to come off, leaving Bradham and Hicks.

The last three spots are not out of reach for any of these players. However, I expect Corey Nelson to land in one of them and I believe Nathan Gerry’s versatility will land him one if he continues to develop. Grugier-Hill is a great special teamer which will most likely get him a spot on the team. However, the other linebackers seem better at actually playing linebacker.

Corner – (5)

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Photo by Michael Leff/Getty Images

Make the roster – Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox

Cuts – De’vante Bausby, Randall Goforth, Chandon Sullivan, Elie Bouka, D.J. Killings

Jones and Darby figure to be the outside starters next year with Mills sliding in to play the slot. The backup on the outside should be Douglas and the slot backup figures to be rookie Avonte Maddox.

This position group seems like one of the easiest to project. Barring a trade of Ronald Darby, this will be the group the Eagles carry into next year.

Saftey – (4)

Make the roster – Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Tre Sullivan, Stephen Roberts

Cuts – Ryan Neal, Jeremy Reaves, Chris Maragos, Dominick Sanders

Jenkins and McLeod will be the starters next year. Tre Sullivan will likely serve as the primary backup. Chris Maragos normally makes the team as a special teams ace. However, this year the Eagles go for a youthful player they can develop at the position. After all, Maragos is 30 years old and costs $2 million a year.

The only changes I could see happening to the top three are if two of the undrafted free agent rookies in Neal, Reaves, Roberts or Sanders have an amazing camp and preseason. Then I could see Tre Sullivan losing a spot to one of them. Stephen Roberts gets the last spot because he more athletic and faster than the others in this group. In addition, he has versatility as he has played both strong and free safety for a big SEC school in Auburn.

Special Teams – (3)

Kicker – Jake Elliott

Punter – Cameron Johnston

Long snapper – Rick Lovato

The Eagles figure to have a solid special teams unit once again. Kicker Jake Elliot was crazy good last year as a rookie. He should only get better. Cameron Johnston got the fast track to the job when Donnie Jones retired and then last decided he did not want to retire yet and requested his release. Finally, Rick Lovato is a good long snapper and doesn’t even look to have any camp competition.

There you have it 24 players on offense, 29 players on defense and special teams. 53 man rosters predictions are known to be especially volatile so I could be way off. However, this is who I believe will be on the team heading into the regular season.

 

Featured image from FAST Philly Sports

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