With NFL rosters due to be cut down to 75 in just 4 days and the deadline to get to 53 just 8 days away, the race for Eagles roster spots is in the home stretch. 15 guys will lose their jobs after the next preseason game and another 22 will be gone after the final game against the Jets. If a guy hasn't locked down a roster spot yet, his time is running dangerously short.
Kevin Noonan of CBS Sports did his full 53 man roster projection for the Eagles and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at an outsider's perspective on the major roster battles.
RB -- In: (3) LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown. Out: Chris Polk. Analysis: Polk has impressed the coaches with his toughness and they may decide to keep him on the 53-man roster, since he would probably be signed off the practice squad by another team. Hard to see Eagles keeping four RBs and suddenly Dion Lewis isn't the lock he was just a week or two ago.
I agree with this one. The Eagles aren't going to keep 4 backs and while they certainly like Chris Polk, I can't say as though he's been so good that he'll displace either Brown or Lewis. That said, I do think Noonan has a point here that Lewis could be the odd man out if Polk earns a job. I am skeptical though, about Noonan's thought that Polk would be signed to another teams' 53 man roster.
There are also a few interesting battles lower down the depth chart at WR.
WR -- In (6): Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Marvin McNutt: Out: Chad Hall, McKay Jacobson, Mardy Gilyard, Brian Hernandez, Jamel Hamler, Tiger Jones, Elvis Akpa. Analysis: Damaris Johnson wasn't drafted, but he makes the team because of his return ability. But several talented young WRs will get caught up in a numbers game. At the least, players like Gilyard, Hamler and Akpa could end up on somebody's practice squad. And one of them could make roster because Riley Cooper has been sidelined almost all of camp with a broken collarbone and that could end up costing him a job.
I've been less convinced by Damaris Johnson the more I've seen of him. After a great camp, he's dropped a couple passes in the preseason and also muffed a punt. He was able to get the ball back, but it wasn't a good sign. He did have a nice return and a 70 yard TD catch against the Steelers though. I just think he has more work to do to get a sure roster spot. Mardy Gilyard is challenging him and Marvin McNutt right now.
Defensive line is the deepest position on the team and its very likely that the Eagles will need to let go at least one player they really like.
DL -- In (9): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon, Brandon Graham,Vinny Curry, Phillip Hunt. Out: Darryl Tapp, Frank Trotter, Monte Taylor, Cedric Thornton, Ollie Ogbu, Xavier Brown. Analysis: This is the deepest and most talented area on the team and some good players aren't going to make it, including Tapp. It appears Patterson won't be ready for opener and will start season on PUP list, which should open the door for Hunt, who has played as well or better than any d-lineman in camp.
For one, I can't see the Eagles cutting Cedric Thornton to keep Antonio Dixon at this point. Thornton has had a great camp and a strong preseason and has played himself onto this roster in my eyes. Dixon is more likely on the bubble between the two. Tapp will be a tough cut as he's also had a good preseason, but so has everyone else. He could be trade bait, but he also has versatility and can play both inside and outside. That could save him a spot over an extra WR/CB/LB.
None of Noonan's other projections are much of a surprise. He has the Eagles keeping the much maligned Jaiquwan Jarrett, which I actually agree with simply as a numbers issue. I think they'll keep 4 safeties and he'd probably make it by default. Where he could be in trouble is in the days after final cuts and around the first week of the season. There's a chance a decent veteran safety gets cut that the Eagles could jump on.