Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who Will Make the Eagles 53?

Every year there are many articles trying to project each team's 53 man roster that they will take into their first game.  They usually make for a fun read and lets the writer show how close he/she can get to guessing how the team will look.  I always enjoy reading them.  However, this year, I am going to not try to guess which players will make the initial 53 man roster (there will certainly be changes in coming weeks) but will offer who I think should make the team.  I offer for anyone to chime in and give their opinions too.

Quarterbacks (3) - Michael Vick and Nick Foles are certain to make the team and more than likely will be one-two on the depth chart to start the season.  Who will be the third quarterback is the big question.  My vote goes to Trent Edwards.  I think that with the unexpected development of Foles, the Eagles can't rely on two guys that have virtually no experience to back-up the often injured Vick.  That's why I would keep Edwards over Mike Kafka in case Vick gets hurt for an extended time and Foles shows some rookie growing pains once given real time against game planning defenses.

Running Backs (3) - For me, this is a no brainer.  Lesean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Bryce Brown should all be safe.  The shiftiness and explosion that Brown has shown makes him possibly the second best back on the team.  Chris Polk has been impressive but is probably behind these three and it's hard with other roster log jams to keep four RB's.

Full Back (1) - For the first time in many years, the Eagles are considering not keeping a full time full back.  Stanley Havilli has been good in this role but, again; with other positions of strength, you might see them not keep any.  There is also a possibility of keeping Polk and using him in some two back sets.  I would keep Havilli and use him to help lead block since there will be a drop off in the run blocking with the absence of Jason Peters.

Wide Receivers (6) - Jeremy Maclin, Desean Jackson, Riley Cooper, and Jason Avant are all safe.  I think Damaris Johnson is safe too.  He was undrafted but has looked fast and is valuable in the return game.  I think the Eagles should keep Marvin McNutt as the sixth receiver whom they drafted in the 6th round this year which would spell the end of Chad Hall.

Tight Ends (2) - Brent Celek and Clay Harbor are the two tight ends that will play and both will see the field often.  Brett Brackett, the converted Penn State QB/WR, could make this a tough decision.  He has played well this preseaon and if they decide to not go with a full back, he is someone who could be the beneficiary.  I think they can probably squeak Brackett onto the practice squad so that's what I would do.

Offensive Line (9) - For this unflashy and underappreciated group, there is a lot of guys that can play multiple positions.  That helps them keep only nine guys which will allow them keep more defensive lineman.  Demetress Bell, King Dunlap, Todd Herramans, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Dennis Kelly, and Danny Watkins are all safe.  I don't like giving up on draft picks (the Eagles don't usually either) so I think Julian Vandervelde is safe.  I think the last spot is between Steve Vallos and Dallas Reynolds whom the Eagles have maxed out his use on the practice squad the last few years.  My guess is that they keep Reynolds whom they have groomed as long as possible as the ninth lineman.

Punter (1) - I think the Eagles should keep Matt McBriar as their punter.  I think they are very seriously considering it too but, again; they will be hesitant to give up on a young player that they brought in last year and tried to groom into their long time punter.  McBriar brings lots of experience and some good numbers to the Eagles.

Kicker (1) - Alex Henry will be the kicker this year and expect him to build upon his impressive rookie campaign.

Long Snapper (1) - Jon Dorenbos continues to be one of the top long snappers in the NFL and will enter his seventh season for the Eagles.

Safeties (4) - Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman remain the starters and, to me, the biggest question marks on the team leaving camp.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles scan the waiver wire at this position.  Although he was hurt most of camp, I think the Eagles should and will hold onto free agent signee O.J. Atagwe.  The big question is whether or not they will keep 2011 second round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett.  He still doesn't seem to move instinctively but with only three other safeties, I think he is safe.

Corner Backs (5) - Nnamdi Asomugha and Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie are the two starters.  Brandon Boykin is fighting veteran Joselio Hanson for the nickel corner spot.  Boykin will be involved in the return game.  If I were making the decisions, I am saying goodbye to Hanson all together.  They Eagles really like Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes so I think they fill out the five CB's while they also give up on third year man Trevard Lindley.

Linebackers (7) - This is a position that the Eagles may load up on players as much for hope of finding guys that may step up as anything.  The starters, as of today, are DeMeco Ryans, Akeem Jordan and impressive rookie, Mychal Kendricks.  Casey Mathews and Jamar Chaney look to be safely on the team, as well.  Brian Rolle, who was the starter at the WILL position until earlier this week is in danger of getting cut but I think he has shown enough big play ability to make the team.  Finally, Kenan Clayton has shown he is a big time special teams player at the very least and should round out this group.

Defensive Ends (5) - So far in this roster, there are some thin spots such as tight ends and even wide receiver.  The depth at defensive end and tackle is the reason.  I would keep the top five defensive ends.  This includes the veteran starters of Jason Babin and Trent Cole, the second group of Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt along with rookie Vinny Curry.  They may choose Daryl Tapp over Hunt and they may also choose to keep all six but I would keep five ends and five tackles especially with the ability of Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox to swing outside if needed.

Defensive Tackle (5) - I think this position became easier in recent days with the addition of Mike Patterson to the PUP list and the knowledge that he may not be back at all this season.  That being said, Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri have looked very solid as the starting group this summer.  First round pick Fletcher Cox will mix in and basically be considered a starter as well.  I would keep Cedric Thorton and Antonio Dixon as well.  Thorton has looked great in camp and Dixon has been a good run stopper through the years which they will miss without Patterson.  If they decide to keep six ends and only four tackles, I would keep Thorton and waive Dixon.

There you have the 53 man roster I would submit to the league office come this Friday.  It will be interesting to see what happens and, as usual, the intial 53 man roster will change many times throughout the year, sometimes even between submission and the first kickoff.

Feel free to add comments here, on Facebook or Twitter with your own picks at some of the bubble positions, would love to hear them!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Browns Game Observations

Here are my thoughts about the Eagles thru their first three preseason games.
  • Overall I'd say that the rookie class has been the story thus far.  It's still early but it already looks like this draft class could rival and even surpass the 2009 group that yielded Jeremy Maclin, Shady McCoy, Moises Fokou, Brandan Gibson, and the picks used to acquire Jason Peters. So far Nick Foles has been the story of camp and maybe one of the big stories of the preaseson.  His poise, accuracy, intelligence and arm strength are not just a mirage.  This goes along with Mychal Kendricks,, who is always near the ball and first round pick Fletcher Cox who will be part of the tackle mix.  Add in Vinny Curry, Dennis Kelly, Brandon Boykin, and Bryce Brown, all of which could see playing time as rookies.
  • I tried to isolate on Demeteess Bell during the Brown's game.  He looked slow and unathletic.  He was beaten on two plays in a row, one a running play, one in pass coverage.  If he can't be a solid tackle, the offensive line could be mediocre at best.  King Dunlap has been nothing more than a journeyman in his career.  This is no way to protect Michael Vick's blind side.
  • I continue to be impressed with the defensive line.  No matter who is in, they are bringing pressure.  I really think when they are playing games that count and a few blitzes and stunts are mixed in, this team will create a lot of sacks and turnovers.
  • I think 2010 first round pick, Brandon Graham, is ready for his breakout year.  After two injury plaqued years, he looks healthy and very quick.  I predict, if he can stay healthy, he will accumulate around 8 sacks in a rotation role.
  • Could Bryce Brown be the steal of the draft?  After not playing much college ball but being rated the top running back out of high school, the Eagle's brass did their homework and were impressed with what they found.  He looks like the second best back on the team and could be a good compliment to McCoy.
  • I think that the special teams will be much improved in 2012.  With the addition of Boykins and undrafted rookie Damaris Johnson (another player that needed significant research after embezzlement charges ruined his senior year at Tulsa), the return game should be much improved.  Between the improved return game and the development of second year kicker Alex Henry, the special teams should help steal a game or two this year.
  • With Trent Edwards playing solid so far, I think there is a real chance that Mike Kafka gets cut.  This would also allow the team to have a more veteran back-up in case Foles faltered during a long term injury to Vick.
  • Phillies mix in - When did Kyle Kendrick and Roy Halladay switch bodies?  Halladay has looked very human all season.  Kendrick has a 0.82 ERA in his last three starts and that was only because of a two run homer that ended a 21 inning scoreless streak.
I will be projecting the final Eagles roster later this week, or at least what I think it should be.  Feel free to give your feedback, even disagreements.  Would love to hear your opinions.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Patriots Game Observations

Here are my thoughts about the Eagles and their pre-season game against the Patriots.

  • Nick Foles continues to impress.  And I mean REALLY impress.  He showed incredible poise for a rookie, a strong arm and toughness to hang in the pocket under pressure.  I do remember feeling similar about Bobby Hoying but there was something much more fake about those expectations.
  • This has to be the deepest defensive line in the NFL.  They just keep coming after the quarterback.  The second and third teams too.  They have some serious number issues with how many ends and tackles to keep because unless there are injuries, there are two or three guys getting cut that will end up playing on other teams.
  • Phillip Hunt had the best game amongst the lineman.  I thought Fletcher Cox looked good too.
  • Mychal Kendricks is a total beast!  He was all over the ball right from the first snap.  Can you imagine him turning into a Terrell Suggs type playmaker?
  • Demetress Bell has looked totally lost in limited action so far.  Not playing with instinct at all. 
  • Both starting corners looked solid.  I really think they will have a much better season in a man to man system.
  • Demeco Ryans through two games has not been the game changer that all Eagles fans were hoping he would be.
  • I loved seeing some fire out of Big Red when calling out his defense.
  • The Eagles have got to get better on 3rd down.  They will lose every game if they keep giving up 3rd down conversions especially via penalty.
  • These replacement refs have got to go.  If not, we are in for a lot of 4 hour games this year.
  • Ryan Howard has 13 RBI's in his last 12 games.