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!