Now that the NFL Draft is over and teams are even starting to open up training camp, it’s the time of year for roster predications. Yes, by the start of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles will have a 53-man roster in which they feel most comfortable with in order to compete for the 2012 Super Bowl. With a few position battles already in line, let’s take a look into the depth chart and see who the final 53-man team will be. Keep in mind, it’s only the beginning of May. There is still four months left until September and with $19 million in cap space still available, I expect the Eagles to land one or two more acquisitions to boost the roster. However, the Eagles currently have 89 player while the limit is 90…that means 36 names must be cut. Who will be the ones suiting up in Week 1?
Quarterback: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Mike Kafka
Obviously, Vick will be the starter in 2012. I think Nick Foles will surprise a lot of people in training camp and snag the backup spot from Mike Kafka. Trent Edwards was recently signed by the Eagles, but after drafting a QB in the third-round and Kafka being the experienced man, that leaves Edwards the odd man out.
Running back: LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Chris Polk
Backing up Pro-Bowl running back LeSean McCoy will still be second-year man Dion Lewis. Lewis was taken last year in the fifth-round out of Pittsburgh and is a promising man when given the opportunity. He has unlimited highlights in college and just needs the chance to bloom into a proper NFL back. However, his 5′ 7″ size doesn’t help. Chris Polk was signed last week after going undrafted and has a lot of potential. The Eagles did spend their last pick on Bryce Brown, but Brown will most likely be used as a practice-squad member.
Wide Receiver: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Marvin McNutt, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper
Hopefully, D-Jax bounces back in 2012 and brings that elite presence similar to 2010. Backing him up will be Jeremy Maclin, a great weapon that just needs to stay healthy. Now here comes the battle: who will be the 3rd option? Either rookie Marvin McNutt or Jason Avant will fight it out for the slot position. We all know what Jason Avant brings to the table, and thats a solid receiver with sure hands. However, he does lack speed and height, but that’s where McNutt comes in. If McNutt comes out and has a great training camp, I’d expect to see him get some quality playing time in 2012. But don’t rule out Riley Cooper who made some spectacular plays last season. The Eagles surely have some weapons, it’s just how they use them.
Tight end: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor
These two guys will be keeping the familiarity as they have over the recent years. Nothing new here.
Offensive tackle: Demetress Bell, Todd Herremans, King Dunlap, Dennis Kelly *(Jason Peters IR)
Offensive guard: Evan Mathis, Danny Watkins, Julian Vandervelde, Brandon Washington
Center: Jason Kelce, Mike Gibson
With a lot of depth on the offensive line, the Philadelphia Eagles have plenty of options up front. Thomas Welch was recently signed, but whether he makes the team or not is to be seen. After the crushing injury to Jason Peters, the Eagles re-signed King Dunlap and signed Demetress Bell from Buffalo. With Howard Mudd on the team coaching these guys, have no fear Mike Vick.
Defensive end: Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Phillip Hunt
Talk about power. All five of these guys bring something special to the table and we have Jim Washburn to help mentor them. Couldn’t ask for a better group! Trent Cole and Jason Babin are the definite starters who teamed up for a total of 29 sacks between the two last season. With Brandon Graham sitting out last season due to an injury and Phillip Hunt getting rare playing time, I expect 2012 to bring a healthy, dominant rotation. Rookie Vinny Curry looks real promising and Washburn will turn him into an NFL end in no time. QBs are dreading this line-up for sure.
Defensive tackle: Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Antonio Dixon, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri
Another dominant group, making the Philadelphia Eagles one of the most powerful teams on the line. The addition of Fletcher Cox is crucial, as he brings a perfect combination of speed and power, perfect for penetrating the line. Still expect Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson to be the starters going into the season, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the time split equally between Patterson and Cox after people see what this rookie is capable of.
Linebackers: Brian Rolle, Demeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Casey Matthews, Keenan Clayton, Jamar Chaney, Akeem Jordan
Last year, it was no secret the Eagles couldn’t stop the run if their season depended on it. The main reasoning behind that was a lack of experience and depth at this position. In order to address this issue, the Eagles added Demeco Ryans from the Houston Texans and drafted a promising player in Mychal Kendricks. With Brian Rolle the only starter last season to keep his starting job, I think he’ll have an even better season in 2012 than he did last year. The four backups in Matthews, Clayton, Chaney and Jordan will be great, as they all have had time filling in during last year. I do have faith in the starting three, and I think this defense will be more stacked than anticipated.
Cornerbacks: Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes
After getting rid of Asante Samuel a few weeks ago, 2012 will bring a more steady and confident feeling. Now, Asomugha and DRC are the main two corners in Philly and after learning from their mistakes last year, they know what is needed of them in order to bring perfection in 2012. Rookie Boykin was added in the draft and is a quick guy, great for covering the slot. He is very young and rather small at 5′ 10″, but after a few weeks in training camp under these guys, he’ll be taught the way.
Safeties: Free Safety- Nate Allen
Strong Safety- Kurt Coleman
Jaiquawn Jarrett, Colt Anderson
This may be the only weak spot on the roster. Very similar to last season, these men will be familiar with their spots and are ready for the upcoming season. I’m a fan of what Kurt Coleman does at SS, and I think he’ll make even more of an impact in 2012.
Special teams: Kicker- Alex Henery
Punter- Ryan Tydlacka
Long Snapper- Jon Dorenbos
Really not much to say about special teams. Alex Henery was the most efficient kicker in NCAA history and the Eagles drafted him last year after letting go David Akers. Even though Henery didn’t come out and do amazing things as hoped, he still had a rather effective season.