Eagles 53-man roster prediction: Version 1.5

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By SportsRadio 94WIP

One week from today the Eagles will be taking the field for their first real practice of the 2020 training camp. 

When that practice does get started, the Eagles will be tasked with one of the toughest and most complicated challenges they have ever faced when it comes to putting together their roster due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only will the team have no OTAs or minicamps to go off of, but practices could look very different. There is also an argument to be made for keeping more players at key positions because of the unfortunate likelihood of positive COVID tests this season. In addition, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and linebacker Jatavis Brown -- two players who very well could have had roster spots -- are now gone, one because of opting out, the other due to retirement.  

Adding to the complications of coming up with a final roster are the new practice squad rules for the 2020 season. 

Under the new CBA, two players on the practice squad can be elevated to the gameday roster each week, essentially making the roster a 55-man roster instead of the normal 53. That player, who can only be moved up twice during the season, reverts back to the practice squad after the game. In addition, the Eagles can have six veterans on the practice squad, which is a major change from past years and will be a factor in how the team constructs their roster. 

So with that in mind, here is my latest guess at what the 53-man roster currently looks like if they had to make cuts today, with a 16-man practice squad as well:

Quarterback (3): Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Jalen Hurts 
Analysis: The quarterback position is an interesting one heading into the 2020 season. Wentz and Hurts are locks. Sudfeld is pretty close to a lock, although the team went into 2019 hoping he would be the backup, and then started the process of trying replace him early on in camp. The COVID situation helps Sudfeld’s chances of making the roster, as there is no way the Eagles will go into the year with just two quarterbacks. There is a better chance they go with four, and play it super safe incase COVID gets in the quarterback room, as opposed to two. The question is whether another quarterback will be added to replace Sudfeld during camp. 
Running Back (4): Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Corey Clement, Elijah Holyfield
Analysis: The battle at the bottom of the Eagles’ depth chart at running back will be interesting. The team has kept five backs on the roster the past few seasons, and could do so again, although they might want to go deeper at receiver than normal. Sanders and Scott are locks, while Clement has a very good chance of landing on the 53-man roster if he can stay healthy. The team clearly likes Holyfield, who they picked up and placed on the active roster at the end of last season. UDFA’s Michael Warren and Adrian Killins will definitely be given a chance to make the roster. If they go surprisingly thin at any position, running back feels like the one. 
Wide Receiver (6): DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, Quez Watkins, John Hightower
Analysis: The most talked about position all offseason will be the most watched in training camp. Jackson, Reagor and Arcega-Whiteside are locks. Alshon Jeffery, who is still recovering from a foot injury that ended in 2019 season, will likely be on the Physically Unable to Perform list. If he isn’t, he’ll have a roster spot. Ward is a solid bet to make the team as he is one of Wentz’s favorite targets and as their best receiver last season. 

If either of the rookies, Watkins or Hightower, show anything in camp they will be on the team. If they struggle early on, it is possible a player like Robert Davis could end up with a bottom-of-the-roster spot -- or a veteran free agent is brought in. 

Tight End (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Joshua Perkins 
Analysis: As always, the tight end position is pretty straight forward. The only potential wildcard here is Noah Togiai, who could push Perkins for that third spot. Considering how often the Eagles like to use two tight ends, this is another potential position they could go deep at. 
Offensive Tackle (4): Andre Dillard, Lane Johnson, Prince Tega Wanogho, Jordan Mailata
Analysis: A new stipulation in the CBA is that teams that dress eight offensive linemen on game days get to keep 48 players active, as opposed to the normal 46. So keeping, and dressing, offensive linemen will be encouraged. Trying to find linemen for the Eagles to keep, however, is not easy. The top two tackles are locks, and Tega Wanogho is likely a lock as well, although he could probably be put on the practice squad if needed. Mailata really needs to show something in training camp. If he doesn’t, his spot — which is very much up in the air — will be taken by a veteran free-agent signing. It is also important to remember that Jason Peters is likely the top backup at tackle. 
Interior Offensive Line (5): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumao, Jason Kelce, Jack Driscoll, Matt Pryor
Analysis: Peters being in the “guard” section of this roster prediction is certainly new, and watching how he adjusts to his position will be very interesting. The Eagles are somewhat deep at guard if Peters can be a competent starter. Driscoll and Pryor are locks. The only wildcard in this group is Nate Herbig, who could make the team if the Eagles decide to go deep at interior offensive line and thin at tackle — which will only happen if Mailata is a disaster. 
Defensive End (5): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat, Genard Avery, Vinny Curry
Analysis: The Eagles depth at defensive end is not what it used to be, as Graham is the only real impact player they have at the position. After the addition of Vinny Curry, Graham, Barnett, Sweat, Avery and Curry are all locks, although Avery could play more of a hybrid DE/LB position. Rookie Casey Toohill could win a roster spot, as he comes to the NFL with a strong set of pass rusher moves, although the signing of Curry is going to make it tough for him to land on the 53-man roster. His only path on seems to be through an injury from one of the top defensive ends. This feels like a make-or-break training camp for Shareef Miller. 
Defensive Tackle (4): Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Javon Hargrave, Hassan Ridgeway
Analysis: The Eagles are deep at DT, although both Cox and Jackson have some question marks heading into the 2020 season. Can Cox rebound from a disappointing 2019 season? Can Jackson stay healthy? Those two questions might decide how good the Eagles defense really is. There is a chance they keep five defensive tackles, and if they do, Anthony Rush feels like the fifth — but we’ll put him on the practice squad for now. 
Linebacker (5): Nate Gerry, TJ Edwards, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley, Duke Riley
Analysis: The Eagles are only going to play two linebackers the majority of the time. It seems those two will be Gerry and Edwards. Taylor might not be ready to play right away, but his status as a third-round pick locks him into a roster spot. The same should be the case for Bradley, who might be ready in Week 1 to come in and play in obvious running situations. Riley is a strong special teams player. 
Cornerback (6): Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Cre’Von LeBlanc
Analysis: The Eagles have a chance to have a much better secondary this season — if someone steps up and plays well at the second cornerback spot. The only potential surprise cuts at corner are either Jones or Douglas, but either one would have to have a terrible camp to not find themselves on the roster. 
Safety (5): Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Will Parks, K’Von Wallace, Grayland Arnold 
Analysis: Safety is going to be an extremely interesting position to watch in training camp, as Mills, Parks and Wallace all battle for playing time. All three are locks to make the roster. McLeod is the leader at the safety position right now, but has no locked in backup. Look for Arnold, who the team made a priority free agent signing, to land the backup spot to McLeod. 
Special Teams (3): Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato 
Analysis: The Eagles can rest easy knowing they have one of the best kicker, punter, holder trios in the NFL. 
PUP: Alshon Jeffery 
16 Practice Squad Players (12): RB Michael Warren, RB Adrian Killins, LB Dante Olson, CB Tremon Smith, LB Alex Singleton, DE Shareef Miller, OG Nate Herbig, OG Sua Opeta, WR Robert Davis, QB Kyle Lauletta, DT Anthony Rush, WR Deontay Burnett, TE Noah Togiai, TE Caleb Wilson, DE Casey Toohill, DE Joe Ostman
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!