Predictions are oodles of fun, but are equally impossible. There are several changes from my pre-camp prediction – big ones starting with the backup QB.
Quarterback: 3 (total 3)
Original Picks: Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles
New Picks: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Trent Edwards
Close But No Cigar: Mike Kafka
Why: Knee-jerk reaction? Probably, but hear me out. Mike Kafka has that tricky word attached to his name: potential. Yea that’s great and all, but potential starts to have a negative connotation come the player’s third season. By then potential needs to turn in productive and Kafka has not been that. It especially hurts that Foles has outperformed him and thrown for more touchdowns that Kafka has ever thrown (4-2) in about one-fourth the games. Kafka was supposed to be the reliable backup while Foles was the rookie with potential. The change is not solely about Foles either; Trent Edwards has played extremely well with very limited practice reps. So well, that Edwards, not Foles or Kafka, could be the Eagles backup QB. The viscosity at the QB position is like water and no one, not even Eagles coaches or management, know what to do yet.
Odds Of Changing: 92%
Running back: 3 (total 6)
Original Picks: LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown
New Picks: LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown
Close But No Cigar: Chris Polk
Why: McCoy is clearly a lock, and Lewis who made a poor decision off the field this offseason, has played extremely well and deserves his role as backup to McCoy. Brown looks like a 7th round gem for the Eagles. If he can learn how to read and pick up blitzes (which should be no problem with his frame), Brown will have a great career in the NFL. Polk, who had a very productive college career, will likely land on the Eagles practice squad. Make no mistake, Polk is very talented and hopefully he will not be picked up by vulturous teams.
Odds Of Changing: 3%
Fullback: 1 (total 7)
Original Picks: Stanley Havili
New Picks: Stanley Havili
Close But No Cigar: Emil Igwenagu
Why: Havili finally had a statement game – the first of his young career. He had a perfectly timed, bone-crushing hit on special teams. He blocked well in the run and pass game – where he picked up blitzes perfectly for Foles. He even got a carry that went for a first down and near touch down. His run came from a formation where he lined up more like a tight end. This is significant because the Eagles will likely keep a combination of 3 TEs and FBs. More on TEs later. Also, Igwenagu is a virtual lock to make the Eagles practice squad.
Odds Of Changing: 21%
Wide Receiver: 6 (total 13)
Original Picks: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt, Damaris Johnson
New Picks: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt, Damaris Johnson
Close But No Cigar: Chad Hall
Why: Jackson, Maclin and Avant will be on the Eagles roster on opening day. Cooper, if healthy, and he likely will be, will also make the Eagles roster. Damaris Johnson had a bad drop in each preseason game, but has rebounded with a solid catch shortly after each drop. He needs to be more consistent catching the ball, but his return ability is the real reason he makes the roster. Chad Hall is currently better than McNutt, but here we go with that word potential again. McNutt has more of it. On the other hand Hall is a known quantity: a small player who is solid in all facets with elite hands. McNutt has a huge frame and great red zone ability. However with Jackson and Johnson being severely undersized and Cooper – who is currently hurt – being the only receiver over 6 feet tall, keeping the 5 foot 8 inch Hall just doesn’t make sense. Also hurting Hall’s chances of staying with the Eagles in 2012 is the fact that there is more depth everywhere else. He won’t be needed as a returner or halfback any longer.
Odds Of Changing: Coin-flip
Tight End: 2 (total 15)
Original Picks: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor, Brett Brackett
New Picks: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor
Close But No Cigar: Brett Brackett
Why: As previously state, the Eagles will keep a total of 3 FBs and TEs. Brackett did nothing against New England, so little that I am not even sure he played, and Havili played lights out. It’s that simple. Brackett could steal a roster spot back, but he will likely end up on the practice squad.
Odds Of Changing: 21% (same as fullback)
Offensive Line: 9 (total 24)
Original Picks: King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason “man’s beard” Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, Dennis Kelly, Brandon Washington, Steve Vallos
New Picks: King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason “man’s beard” Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, Dennis Kelly, Julian Vandervelde, Mike Gibson
Close But No Cigar: Brandon Washington, Steve Vallos, D.J Jones
Why: The starters, and I am including both Bell and Dunlap as starters here, have been locks all offseason. Kelly has played well enough to earn his first career start and lock up a roster spot with the Eagles. Side note: he could be the future at right tackle. The final 2 spots, predicting the Eagles keep 9 offensive lineman, are completely in the air still. Vandervelde gets the nod because Howard Mudd selected him in the draft and has learned the center position well enough. Plus his last name just rolls off your tongue. Gibson gets the spot over Washington because of his concussion problems. He will likely land on the IR or practice squad.
Odds Of Changing: 88%
Special Teams: 3 (total 27)
Original Picks: Alex Henery, Chas Henry, Jon Dorenbos
New Picks: Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbos
Close But No Cigar: Chas Henry
Why: I am focusing on punter here because it’s the only battle. The other two don’t even have competition on the roster. McBriar was added after my original posting and is clearly boasting a healthy foot after surgery last season. He will win the battle because he is reliable and has a stronger leg. The only reason he could faulter is if he can’t hold well. To date Henry has not messed up a hold of Henery. Don’t let the small percentage of possible change fool you though. Henery has been punting very well, especially accurately within the 10 yard line; McBriar simply has a stronger leg.
Odds Of Changing: 17%
Defensive Line: 10 (37)
Original Picks: Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox, Antonio Dixon, Mike Patterson
New Picks: Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox, Antonio Dixon, Cedric Thornton
Close But No Cigar: No one…yet
Why: Wow, just wow. The defensive line is going to be a joy to watch this season. The stars are what we expected, but the depth is phenomenal. In the first preseason game against the Steelers the entire starting line did not play, yet there were 7 sacks by the defensive line. That’s a highly impressive statistic. Over the course of the preseason Hunt, Graham and Thornton have played their way into a roster position in emphatic fashion recording 6 of the 9 preseason sacks. Hunt also has 2 of the Eagles 3 forced fumbles. Offseason locks to make the team were and still are Cole, Jenkins, Babin, Curry, Cox and Patterson. Speaking of Patterson, his brain surgery recovery is keeping him out of practice and games which means he will likely start the season on the PUP. With 2 positions left for the Eagles to fill, one of which will be temporary, both Tapp and Dixon make the roster. Whoever makes the most impact in the first 6 weeks of the season stays, while the other is traded or cut – likely Tapp.
Odds Of Changing: 69%
Linebacker: 6 (total 43)
Original Picks: Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Rolle, Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney,
New Picks: Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Rolle, Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Akeem Jordan
Close But No Cigar: Keenan Clayton, Ryan Rau
Why: The first five are locks and have been locks all preseason. Jordan has played his way onto the roster with outstanding special teams play and solid, but not flashy defense. He has been a special teams ace since he arrived and will continue that role this season. Add in the fact that he can play all 3 linebacker positions and is a great locker room presence and Jordan deserves to play with the Eagles for his 7th season.
Odds Of Changing: .09%
Cornerback: 6 (total 49)
Original Picks: Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Joselio Hanson, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Cliff Harris
New Picks: Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Joselio Hanson, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes
Close But No Cigar: Cliff Harris
Why: Asomugha and DRC are the clear cut starters. Even though Boykin has played incredibly well, Hanson has not had a negative play all preseason and deserves his nickel spot. The multi-talented Boykin will remain as the dime corner, be a gunner on special teams and primary kickoff returner. Marsh has had a great offseason as well and he rightfully will be the first man to replace one of the starters on the outside. Hughes makes the team for his special team play, but likely won’t dress. Harris unfortunately has been slowed by a high ankle sprain after an exciting offseason. Hopefully he can be safely stashed on the practice squad until next season.
Odds Of Changing: 73%
Safety: 4 (total 53)
Original Picks: Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Jaiquawn Jarrett, O.J Atogwe
New Picks: Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, O.J Atogwe, Phillip Thomas
Close But No Cigar: Jaiquawn Jarrett, Tom Nelson
Why: Allen and Coleman are the starters and are locks. After that it gets murky quickly. Atogwe is a reliable veteran and therefore probably makes the roster. I previously stated that Jarrett would make it but he had a terrible game against the Steelers, and I do mean awful. I am throwing Phillip Thomas in there for no good reason other than Jarrett can play football at an NFL level, Nelson is a borderline NFL player but has a gimpy ankle and Colt Anderson will start the season on the PUP. Anderson, if healthy will replace Thomas when he is allowed to be activated. Lucky for the Eagles the NFL draft has studs at safety coming out next year and will be available throughout the first round.
Odds Of Changing: 42%
What does everyone think of my Eagles roster prediction?