How the Philadelphia Eagles’ Roster Should Look for the 2009-2010 Season V2.0By
With the first round of cuts taking place today in about 15 minutes and the final round of cuts taking place on Saturday, it’s about the right time to take a look at how the Philadelphia Eagles roster will look for the 2009-2010 season.
Earlier in the year—about two months before training camp even began—I laid out my 53 guys to make the roster. Now that the preseason is just about over (the fourth game is looming, but it’s understood that if you didn’t produce in the first three games, you’re only holding a tryout for the other 31 teams in the fourth), it’s time to take a look at the roster again.
Note: this is more an article of how the roster should look, rather than what the roster will exactly look like. Reid’s moves will be taken into consideration, however, such as Kolb staying and A.J. Feeley most likely being moved.
QB 1 – Donovan McNabb
Despite the talk about Vick, this is an obvious choice. McNabb will not lose his job this year or the next. The only way McNabb is not the quarterback of this team is if his contract runs out, or he retires.
QB 2 – Michael Vick
No matter what Reid says, Vick is the second-best quarterback on this roster. Putting him as the third-string quarterback would kill the gameday rosters and really put the Eagles in a bind if McNabb was to go down.
QB 3 – Kevin Kolb
Even though I’m not a fan of Kolb and believe A.J. Feeley should still be the third-string guy for this team, it’s just not going to happen. Kolb will be an Eagle in 2009—next season is up in the air, but for this year, he’s the third guy.
Overall: A.J. Feeley will either be cut or traded, most likely traded. I think the Eagles will carry four quarterbacks for a short while if they’re unable to move Feeley by Saturday. Look for the Eagles to expect about a fifth or sixth-round pick for Feeley.
Running Back (3)
RB 1 – Brian Westbrook
Again, not exactly a surprising option as the No. 1 guy here. Westbrook appears to be heading into this season at 100 percent and could very well have a career year if he’s able to stay healthy throughout the entire season. Many expected him to become a member of the 1,000-1,000 club—perhaps this is the year.
RB 2 – LeSean McCoy
Personally, I believe that McCoy should probably be the No. 1 guy in terms of getting more carries and playing more snaps. Doing that will keep Westbrook fresh for the playoffs and get the rookie some incredibly valuable playing time, which will help when he takes over in two years or so. His blocking will prevent that, but he should be a playmaker.
RB 3 – Eldra Buckley
Buckley has significantly outperformed Lorenzo Booker on offense and contributed on special teams. Buckley is a good third running back and a wonderful option as the second guy were Westbrook to go down for a lengthy period of time.
Overall: Lorenzo Booker has not looked bad on offense, but Buckley has just looked better. Booker should find a team, however. If Westbrook can stay healthy, this may be the best year that the Reid era has ever seen in terms of effective rushing.
FB 1 – Leonard Weaver
Weaver is a very good blocker, runner, and can also catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s the first real fullback the Eagles have had since Jon Ritchie was roaming the backfield what seems like an eternity ago. Hopefully he can be the difference-maker the Eagles expect him to be.
Overall: Kyle Eckel is a good player who could—and should—find a starting job with a team desperate for a fullback. He’s a good run-blocker, and can run the ball. He’s not great catching the ball out of the backfield, but not many teams ask that of their fullback.
Wide Receiver (6)
WR 1 – DeSean Jackson
Earlier, I had Jackson listed as the second receiver but with the way he played in camp and the way he has played in the preseason, he’s obviously the best receiver on this team. He’s making the tough catches and showing his first season—with accompanying rookie mistakes—is far behind him.
WR 2 – Kevin Curtis
This could change if Curtis is unable to get healthy, but for now he gives the Eagles a great option either stretching the defense deep or getting some yards after the catch on a simple slant or dig pattern. Hopefully he can get to 100 percent before the season and get back to 2007 form.
WR 3 – Jason Avant
Avant is certainly coming into his own as the slot receiver. He is able to go up after the ball, and may have a pair of the strongest hands in the entire league. He’s very good at extending and snagging the ball out of the air and going across the middle, something you like to see in a slot receiver.
WR 4 – Jeremy Maclin
This will of course depend on how much of the playbook he has perfected by the time the season begins, but if he can get the plays down he will be the fourth receiver. Given the “receiver-by-committee” approach the Eagles use, the fourth receiver still sees plenty of playing time. Hopefully Maclin is up to it and moves up the depth chart throughout the season.
WR 5 – Reggie Brown
Yes, that’s right. Reggie Brown. Word is there’s not much interest for Brown as far as a trade goes, so he will be the guy to stay. The lack of interest is probably not as much about a perceived lack of talent as it is a fairly big contract for a fifth receiver, and the fact that he has been a bit injury-prone over the past couple of seasons.
WR 6 – Brandon Gibson
Gibson is a guy who I wished could stay since day one, and his training camp/preseason has done nothing to make me think otherwise. In fact, I like him even more. He’s a smart guy who uses his physical abilities to put himself in position to make the catch. He will be a playmaker in this league one day, hopefully very soon.
Overall: Hank Baskett will more than likely wind up getting traded. Word is that their is some interest but that the offers have not “blown the Eagles away.” A fourth-round pick would probably blow them away, but they may have to settle for a conditional sixth, or at most a fifth-round pick for Baskett.
Tight End (3)
TE 1 – Brent Celek
By allowing L.J. Smith to leave via free agency, the Eagles were making Celek the No. 1 by default. He showed up huge in the NFC Championship game and should be able to continue that success into the 2009 season. Look for Celek to be a favorite target for McNabb in the redzone.
TE 2 – Rob Myers
The rookie free agent, who is only getting a shot on this team because of the injury to Cornelius Ingram, is certainly making the most of it by showing some speed and good hands. He proved a surprise this offseason, and hopefully can keep surprising into the season.
TE 3 – Matt Schobel
Much like you, the reader, I’m not a fan of Matt Schobel. He has good hands, but unfortunately he can’t get off the line or get open long enough to be able to use those hands. However, even with the signing of Tony Curtis, Schobel will probably be the choice here because he knows the offense and the Eagles would like a veteran presence around for a rookie and a first-year starter.
Overall: While Tony Curtis is the best choice for the third tight end position, he doesn’t know the Eagles’ offense and came in rather late. He could still make the team in place of Schobel—and my hope is he will—but at this point I don’t see it happening. Eugene Bright is still on the team, but he hasn’t shown enough to warrant a place on the final roster. Maybe a practice squad guy.
Offensive Line (9)
LT 1 – Jason Peters
The Eagles traded for Peters this offseason so he could come in and be the team’s starting left tackle, and that’s just what he’s going to do. He’s had some issues in the preseason with his speed off the line and picking up blitzes, so we’ll just have to wait and see how he does.
LG 1 – Todd Herremans
Herremans will be the guy when he returns from foot surgery. So, technically, he’s the No. 1 left guard heading into the season. He made some strides during training camp, so it was a real setback when he was hit with this injury. He should, however, be able to make a full recovery and be just fine after missing about two or three games.
C 1 – Jamaal Jackson
Many people have been calling for a demotion for Jackson, but the fact is he’s the best center on this roster by a long shot. He knows how to put his guys into position, and is a big reason why the Eagles can shuffle their offensive linemen in and out (because of injuries) and still be successful. In short, he does a whole lot more than you’d think.
RG 1 – Stacy Andrews
Stacy has been impressive when he’s been able to line up and play. He’s at 100 percent right now, and isn’t a health concern heading into the season. He won’t play this week, so he’ll have plenty of time to rest up and prepare for Week One against Carolina.
RT 1 – Shawn Andrews
To hear that Shawn was back at practice and feeling good may have been the best news of the entire preseason. With him on the field, the offensive line is just a different unit. He adds an attitude to the line that is incredible to watch. Let’s also not forget that as far as pure talent goes, he’s one of the best in the league.
LT 1 – King Dunlap
A seventh-round pick a year ago, Dunlap has stuck on with the Eagles because of his athleticism and potential. However, he won’t be an Eagle much longer if he can’t keep his weight under control, which—oddly enough for a linemen—is too low, and be able to use his feet better in pass protection. For now, he’s a project worth keeping.
LG 2 – Max Jean-Gilles
The former fourth-round pick has slimmed down a bit and increased his athleticism so he could become the linemen the Eagles wanted him to be. The loss of weight will help his ankle problems and should help him be a better pass protector. He’s a road-grater and a great guy to run behind, so that’s not a problem. He’ll probably get the start until Herremans is healthy.
C/RG 2 – Nick Cole
Cole, on most other teams in the NFL, is a borderline starter at right guard and a serviceable backup at center. Versatility is something that Andy Reid loves, and loves is so much he requires it of his linemen. Cole brings that and will keep a spot on this team because of it.
RT 2 – Winston Justice
Justice has picked up his play so much it’s really incredible to watch. Seeing him play during training camp was like watching a different guy. He’s not the same puppy he was when Hugh Douglas called him out a couple years back. This guy has realized it’s time to pick up his game, and could be a starter if Shawn Andrews is not ready for the season.
Overall: Mike Gibson, Mike McGlynn, and Fenuki Tupou are all guys the Eagles would like to keep, but unfortunately some of them are destined for the practice squad as they lose a numbers game.
Defensive Line (10)
RE 1 – Trent Cole
Cole is a top-flight NFL talent, so it’s obvious he would be the starter at right end. Hopefully, Cole can get some more help from the rotation at left end in order to get him some more sacks. Even without a whole lot of help, he’s put himself into the elite for defensive ends.
DT 1 – Brodrick Bunkley
Bunkley has become a dominant run-stuffing defensive tackle, but he can also get after the quarterback on occasion. He put on some weight in order to become the space-eater he is, but still has held on to the athleticism he had at Florida State that caused the Eagles to draft him with the 14th overall pick in 2006.
DT 2 – Mike Patterson
Another former first-round pick, Patterson has really stepped up his game. After being a good starter for a couple years, Patterson is now a guy who is expected to make the Pro Bowl this year after getting snubbed last year. Like Bunkley, he’s a space-eater with the ability to get to the quarterback.
LE 1 – Juqua Parker
The Eagles wanted the job to go to Victor Abiamiri, but with his injury it’s not going to happen this year. Parker will be the starter for Week One and beyond, but—if Abiamiri outplays him—Sean McDermott certainly wouldn’t hesitate to start Abiamiri. Parker has done well at starting fast, but then he disappears after Week Eight. If he can finish strong as well, the Eagles are in good shape.
RE 2 – Jason Babin
Babin has gone from an outcast first-round pick to Trent Cole’s backup on the right side. Usually, a first-round pick being a backup isn’t a good thing. However, when you can pick that first-round pick up off the scrap heap and put him behind one the best ends in the league, you’ve got yourself a good deal.
DT 3 – Trevor Laws
The second-round pick from last year (picked two spots before DeSean Jackson) didn’t get a whole lot of playing time, so it’s difficult to judge where he’s at in his NFL career. He also spent a good portion of training camp with the training staff, so he may not be counted on too much this year either.
LE 2 – Victor Abiamiri
To this point, Abiamiri has been a disappointment. A second-round pick is supposed to contribute a lot more than what he has produced to this point. Injury after injury has hampered his progress, but even with the injuries he probably only has this season and the next to show he has what it takes to keep him around.
RE 3 – Bryan Smith
The former third-round pick probably doesn’t belong on this team. He didn’t suit up for a single game last season and hasn’t shown much progress this year, but given that he’s a third-round pick Reid will probably keep him on board one more season to see if he has any surprises.
LE 3 – Chris Clemons
To put Clemons on one side or the other—or to call him the third guy—is probably a bit deceiving. He will play much more than a normal third-string guy would, as he’ll be called upon in passing situations to get after the quarterback on whichever side McDermott needs him to play.
LE/RE/DT 4 – Darren Howard
It’s difficult to give Howard a position or a number depth-wise. He’s all over the line, literally playing everywhere. He would come in before guys like Clemons and Smith, but may also come in before Trevor Laws at defensive tackle. Howard is incredibly important to this team, and—no matter where you list him—he’s going to be an Eagle.
Overall: If the Eagles pull a surprise move and cut Bryan Smith, it will only be so that they can keep Dan Klecko as the fourth defensive tackle. However, because of Howard’s versatility, the fan-favorite Klecko could be on his way out.
SAM 1 – Chris Gocong
Personally, I don’t believe Gocong has progressed the way he should have at this point in his career. He still can’t cover a tight end to save his life and just doesn’t make enough big plays to be a starting linebacker for this team. He may never be any better than this, and if that’s the case then it’s time for the Eagles to look elsewhere. Let’s hope I’m wrong.
MIKE 1 – Omar Gaither
Gaither showed some ability in 2007, and it should lead to a successful stopgap for 2009 until Stewart Bradley can come back in 2010 from a torn ACL. Gaither isn’t the prototypical middle linebacker, but it’s the position he wants to play, and he’s certainly intelligent enough to do it. Players see him as a leader and he embraces the role.
WILL 1 – Akeem Jordan
Jordan is fast and good at shedding blocks. However, he needs to focus on tackling and reading an offense better in his first full season as a starter. If he can do that, he could quickly be in talks for a Pro Bowl bid. The physical ability is there, so if he can tie-in the mental aspect of it he should have a very bright NFL career.
SAM 2 – Moise Fukou
The seventh-round pick was an afterthought without much of a chance to make the team, but now is looking at becoming the primary backup at all three positions. He’s gotten some reps at MIKE and looked pretty good during them, but he’s young and not ready to “drive the car,” as Omar Gaither put it.
MIKE 2 – Joe Mays
Mays was supposed to be the starter entering the year, but a poor preseason has doomed him to backup yet again as Omar Gaither looks to take the starting role for the Birds. If he can pick up the defense a little better to the point he doesn’t need to think as much, he may be able to supplant Gaither at some point. It will be a continuing battle.
WILL 2 – Tracy White
White makes the team because of his contributions to special teams, but if Akeem Jordan were to go down there would probably be a shuffling of linebackers to take over the spot rather than making White the starter. Perhaps a move for Gaither to WILL and Mays would step in at MIKE.
Overall: Matt Wilhelm is the wild card here. If he can play WILL he might take White’s spot, but if he can’t then I don’t forsee him getting a spot on this roster. The Eagles are already cutting it close, so Wilhelm will have to really show something in the final preseason game.
Defensive Backs (9)
CB 1 – Asante Samuel
Outside of Nnamdi Asomugha and possibly Champ Bailey, Samuel is the best cornerback in the league. He’s a ballhawk and should be able to top his six interceptions (including postseason) from last year with another year in this defense under his belt.
CB 2 – Sheldon Brown
Brown may be unhappy with his contract, but he’s a professional and has acted as such. He’s not whining and crying like many other players will do, instead showing up to practice, do his job, and not let his personal issues with the front office affect his relationship with the players or in the lockerroom. He’s the obvious No. 2 option.
*SS 1 – Quintin Mikell
Mikell made some All-Pro teams last season, but got snubbed for the Pro Bowl. He’s shown that his time under Brian Dawkins has really paid off as he’s made his mark as one of the hardest hitters in the league at the safety position. He can also make some good plays in the passing game and should get his first Pro Bowl nod this season.
FS 1 – Sean Jones
Demps has been the starter, but Reid said the competition for the free safety spot will extend into the fourth preseason game. Jones just needs to make a couple plays and he’ll have the starting spot wrapped up. The Eagles obviously don’t have faith in Demps for this year any longer, so Jones should be able to step right in.
FS 2 – Quintin Demps
Demps is a good backup and will probably return kicks as well, but if you’re familiar with my writings, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of Demps as a starter—at least for right now, and perhaps ever. He’ll have to show that he’s not afraid of contact first.
FS 3 – Victor “Macho” Harris
Harris is a ‘tweener as either a safety or a corner, so the Eagles will probably utilize him as a backup as both positions. He should be a good safety one day, and the Eagles are excited at the prospect of seeing Harris grow into that role.
*Note: The reason that there is no backup for strong safety is because in the event Quintin Mikell were to go down, the Eagles would slide Sean Jones over to strong, and play Demps at free. Macho Harris would then become the backup at both spots.
CB 3 – Ellis Hobbs
Hobbs was traded from New England because he was unhappy about his contract, but now all he has is the same contract in a different city—and a demotion on top of everything else. I’m sure he’s not happy about his role as the team’s nickel corner, but as such he gives the Eagles the best nickel corner in the league.
CB 4 – Joselio Hanson
A shiny new 4-year $20 million contract for your dime corner? Well, it’s only because they don’t anticipate him being a dime corner past this season. Hobbs is more than likely going to walk after the season for a starting job, and Hanson will resume his duties as nickel corner. Until then, there’s not a fourth receiver in the league that Hanson can’t cover.
CB 5 — Dimitri Patterson
Patterson has been incredibly physical during his time with the Eagles, and has gone from long-shot to the probable fifth corner. He’s a guy who’s not afraid to hit anyone, whether it be a receiver, running back, quarterback, or even scrap with an offensive lineman. He’s oddly reminiscent of Al Harris during his time in Philadelphia.
Overall: Jack Ikegwuonu has just not shown enough to warrant a spot on this team. Once thought of as the steal of the draft, he has not been able to regain his speed after tearing his ACL, which is evident watching receviers run away from—and around—him all preseason and training camp. The Eagles may not keep a fifth corner if they decide to keep 10 offensive linemen.
K 1 – David Akers
P 1 – Sav Rocca
LS 1 – Jon Dorenbos
Overall: No surprises here. The only competition for the three was Ken Parrish as a kicker/punter, but he was cut in order to bring in Rob Myers.
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